Instant and Cheap Aren’t Always the Best Options

[Phone rings]

Ann: “Cutting Edge, this is Ann.”

Customer: “I have got the BEST DEAL EVER on background checks. It’s the Nationwide Super Search.”

Ann (flips through mail): “Mmmm-hmmmmm. Is it cheap?”

Customer: “Way cheaper than those court searches you’re so fond of. It’s like pocket change. I can still buy donuts and not miss a beat.”

Ann (rolls eyes): “Is it fast?”

Customer: “It’ll make your pretty little head spin.”

Ann (turns on computer): “Let me tell how all those things are a bad idea—for you.”

Instant criminal searches (a/k/a database searches) are a fantastic tool. For your background screening company.

At Cutting Edge we use them to point out jurisdictions that may not have turned up in the trace report, we use them for quality assurance to be sure we catch all the cases the need to be reported.

They go by many trade names: InstaCrime, QuickPast, etc. They are all comprised of information that has been scraped (or “mined”) from the Internet. Court records, sex offender registries, incarceration reports, etc.

Why, then, aren’t instant criminal searches valid as a sole source for a background check?

  1. The data can be stale. It can be a couple weeks to months to years old. Cases may appear where the individual has actually had the case expunged. Alternatively, cases may not appear because the case was too recently filed and the database is old.
  2. We see a LOT of records that are simply name matches. There are a lot of Michael Johnsons and Nancy Torres in the world. We have to go to the court of original jurisdiction to make the identity match. It would be a crime (pun intended) if you denied Michael Johnson a job because of a simple name match.
  3. Not everything is on the internet. You may think it is. (even updates on the NBA draft and kitten videos). But no. Most records from big jurisdictions from New York to San Diego to Los Angeles to Cook County, Illinois cannot be mined from the Internet. Let along smaller jurisdictions like Weston County, Wyoming or Gallatin County, Montana.

Finally, Cutting Edge is part of an organization, Concerned CRA’s. We won’t report information based solely on a database scraping. We go back to the court of original jurisdiction and check the veracity of that information. It’s the right thing to do.