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What’s the Deal with Address History?

by Rahul

Why does every job application, loan application, or rental application ask for an address history? Is it really necessary to list every place you’ve lived with a full street address? Do these organizations really need to know where you live? Won’t the reports they request provide an address history for me?

The truth is that addresses are an important part of background checks. Let’s take a closer look.

Background Checks

Background screens can do the following:

  • Verify education and employment history
  • Verify SSN and eligibility for legal work
  • Check credit history
  • Uncover a criminal background
  • Provide a motor vehicle record

Background check vendors offer customizable services to help their clients get the reliable information they need to make wise decisions. SMB background checks can be tailored to fit the needs of a small business, just as background screens can be scaled up to meet the needs of large organizations. What role does address info play in all of this?

Current Address

Having a correct, current address from the applicant has a big impact on the quality of the final report. Here’s why. 

Missing Info

There are many ways an individual’s address could get into a database. When you apply for credit, your current address might go into a database. If you subscribe to a magazine, your address might make its way into a database. If you pay for trash pickup, your address could land in a database. A background screen searches a variety of databases to find all addresses associated with a given name, birth date, and SSN. That said, sometimes addresses aren’t reported, and sometimes they aren’t available. Is the applicant barely 18? Chances are, their addresses won’t be found anywhere yet. 

A Solid Starting Point

Of all an applicant’s addresses, the current address might be the most likely to be missing from any history report. Asking applicants to provide a current street address gives background screeners a solid starting point. 

Recent Criminal Activity

Addresses are used to uncover criminal activity. Screeners begin their search of criminal records with the records for the counties in which the applicant has lived. When it comes to using criminal records as criteria for hiring decisions, recent criminal activity is the most relevant, which is why a current address is important. In fact, it’s essential to fair hiring practices that time passed be considered when weighing an individual’s background check and eligibility. A crime committed in the past year should reasonably have more bearing on employment than a crime committed ten years ago. 

Previous Addresses

Asking an individual to provide previous addresses is also important for a background check. We mentioned two things earlier relating to this:

  1. Background checks can miss address info if it was never reported to a database
  2. Addresses are used as a starting point for criminal searches

Asking the applicant to provide an address history is a safety net. It helps fill in gaps from missing databases, ensure that criminal records searches are thorough, and verify that the individual is telling the truth on their application. 

In Summary

Little things matter when it comes to accurate background checks. Taking the time to get addresses correct yields more complete, more reliable background check reports. 

Taking Time for the Little Things

You’re probably familiar with the importance of the applicant’s name and how it is used in a background check. Entering a name – you’re always going to enter it on every search, so making sure it’s correct comes with the territory! Entering the address takes a little longer… but it is nearly as important!!!

One of the most difficult but arguably most important parts of the background check is the criminal history search. We run criminal history to avoid negligent hires, protect our business and increase safety in the workplace. Without providing the current address, you run the risk of missing recent criminal records by not searching that county at all or because of unavailable identifiers.

Include the address and double-check that it was entered correctly on all of your searches.

Choice Screening emphasizes compliant, comprehensive, and accurate background screen results. Do you have questions about improving your searches?

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