In what is being called a case of indirect identity theft, a Maryland man’s job prospects were compromised following a routine background check at a potential job. Christopher Jenkin’s background check quickly uncovered a list of felony offenses, including grand theft auto, on his record. The problem: the record was for a man of the same name and birthdate, but who lived in Florida. The Christopher had never been to Florida let alone committed any of the crimes listed.
The Importance of Searching Local Registries over FBI Databases
The FBI reports that between the years 2014 and 2016 there were more than 1 million requests for FBI identity history summaries and of the results, about 2,300 contained errors. With more than 300 million people in the United States today, the odds are simply too great that identity mix-ups will occur and identity theft experts agree that better systems must put in place that will allow consumers to challenge and correct these mistakes more easily.
For his own protection, Christopher Jenkins of Maryland must carry a folder containing a litter from the Florida police department confirming that he is not the felon of the same name, a notarized affidavit explaining the case of mistaken identity, and a copy of his own fingerprints. He must present these things at traffic stops and job interviews and reports that the issue has led to undo stress and depression. Hopefully, with clarification, his employment prospects won’t be negatively impacted in the future, but the mix-up highlights the importance of thorough employee screening.
Additionally, for consumers it is crucial to remember that the FTC protects consumer rights to question and correct inaccurate information. In the event that a background is failed, you can request to see the report and contest the information.
When your background check company cuts corners, neglecting to do a proper identity check, the worst-case scenario, and the one that too often plays out, is that an innocent person gets caught in the middle. Christopher Jenkins is far from the only person a careless mistake of this nature has affected.
In 2012, a man in New York City by the name of Kevin Jones was unpleasantly surprised when his prospective job came back with failed background check, uncovering a supposed rap sheet full of convictions for drunk driving, larceny, forgery and two separate jail stays. His potential employer then sent him a letter, placing the onus on him to clear his own name, or they would no longer be offering the job to him.
Similar to the Jenkins case, Kevin Jones had no criminal history to speak of, and in the eyes of this botched background check, was taking the blame for another Kevin Jones with the same birthday, living in another part of the state.
With the surprisingly high number of cases like these, it is of the utmost importance that background check services are called upon to perform a proper identity check.
Valid Forms of Identification
In the United States there are a few forms of government-issued photo ID that can be used for identity checks. These, and other documents, are crucial to background check companies when verifying beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are dealing with the correct person. Among these forms of identification are:
State-Issued ID Cards
A standalone photo ID card issued to an individual by the state. This document is purely for identification purposes, and does not grant the owner any rights or privileges, such as operating a vehicle.
A state-issued photo ID card that also grants the holder the privilege of driving a motor vehicle. This is often used for identification purposes, as well as detailing the specific classifications of vehicles that the holder is authorized to handle.
A document issued to a person by the United States government, authorizing them to travel internationally and verifying their identity and citizenship to other governments.
Military ID Cards
A photo identification document issued to members of the armed forces, which grants the holder access to a variety of government assistance, as well as verifying ID in many government or military contexts.
In the world of background checks, it’s crucial to be thorough with identity checks. This is the only way to prevent identity mix-ups and ensure that innocent people are not met with undue penalties for the crimes of others.