What is a Social Security Trace and why is it important for a complete Background Screening?
The Social Security Trace is a fundamental tool and helps verify that your job applicants are who they say they are and safeguards that you are not the victim of a deceitful applicant who may have something to hide.
Each of component of a background screening contributes one puzzle piece to an applicant’s history. But how does an employer know where to look for criminal records or under what names to search? Without a Social Security Trace, this information would be provided by the applicant on an employment application. That means searching for critical information about the applicant relies solely on that person’s full disclosure.
When an applicant wants the employer to verify their educational achievements or favorable work history, it is in their best interest to give the employer complete and accurate information to search. But what if the applicant has something to hide? This is where the Social Security Trace comes into play . . .
What is a Social Trace?
The Social Security Trace is a search based on the social security number submitted by the applicant. Adam Safeguard’s Social Security Trace uses a database complied from hundreds of different sources – including credit headers. This does not mean a credit check is being run and credit header information is not the equivalent of a credit report. Some other sources include US Postal Service, utility bill records, voter’s registration records and other similar sources. The information returned on a Social Security Trace are all names, including aliases, dates of birth and all address history associated with that SSN. The Social Security Trace serves as a locator tool to establish likely jurisdictions to search for criminal history.
The Social Security Trace may also provide the state of issue and time frame of issue along with if the number has been used to file a death claim. If the SSN was issued after June of 2011, unassigned numbers were placed in a pool and are now assigned randomly so we are no longer able to track the state of issue on these newer issued numbers.
Social Trace is not without its flaws . . .
The records obtained can include information that is incorrect or belongs to another person as some of the information obtained relies on accurate data entry and should never be used by itself as the basis to make an employment decision; however, the records are extremely helpful to develop locations to be searched for criminal history.
Because consumer information is entered and compiled countless times from various consumer databases, inaccuracies such as typos, transposed digits, misspellings, are not uncommon. Additionally, the following scenarios must be considered in reviewing the contents of a social trace.
• Names of other individuals such as parents, spouses, family members may appear on the social trace if they have ever co-signed for the applicant or if the two individuals’ names appear together on an application for credit.
• The names and DOBs of both father and son may appear on the same social trace for men who are second, third, etc. generation and bear the same name (e.g. John Jones II & John Jones III)
Sometimes, an SSN will not return any results on a social trace due to:
• The applicant’s limited credit history, often a result of their young age and absence of credit history
• The applicant’s limited credit history if s/he was only recently assigned a social security number
• Data entry error by the client
• Reporting error by the applicant
• Fraud by the applicant
In the interest of ensuring a proper and complete background screening, Adam Safeguard provides the following service:
• If the Social Security Number is flagged by our data system, which means that the SSN doesn’t match the subject name:
o Adam Safeguard will check the social security number provided by your Applicant directly with the Social Security Administration
If SSA validates the number (based upon name and date of birth match) we will note the information in the data platform and clear the Trace.
• Adam Safeguard will supply you with information that can be provided to the Applicant to help find out why the discrepancies appeared
If the SSA cannot verify the name associated with the provided SSN, the search will Fail and Social Security Trace will be flagged, which will indicate to you that the number provided DOES NOT match the subject and; therefore, the entire Background Check is not valid as it was completed with false information.