This famous saying is attributed to soldier, politician and frontiersman Davy Crockett, as quoted in David Crockett: His Life and Adventures(1874) by John Stevens Cabot Abbott. It’s advice well worth heeding in the reporting of criminal conviction histories, whether during a background investigation on a witness in a pending civil or criminal trial, or in the course of a pre-employment screening for a business client. A few screening companies have learned that lesson the hard way. One case that made the national press comes to mind.

In 2014, a New York City doorman was denied a job because a background screening firm provided an incorrect criminal record to the hotel where he had applied for a job. The screening company, a large national firm, failed to provide verification on a criminal conviction on an individual who had the same name and birthday as the job applicant, but with a different middle name and prior employment and residential histories with no commonalities to the applicant. Unfortunately, this is not an unusual occurrence when screening individuals with common names. You always have to “drill down” when reviewing criminal histories, to make sure the information provided by the job applicant is a “strict match” to the criminal record. Although it is rare to find a match with both a common name and a date of birth, it is doubly important to have failsafe procedures in place when screening common names.

A class action law suit resulted from the bad background investigation, a cautionary tale for all businesses and their screening vendors.

When you need assistance establishing a background screening program, contact the professionals at Trace Investigations at 800-310-8857.