Government Court Database Glitches Affect Background Checks

When is a no record a record? When the government database has glitches, flaws, software bugs and you're returned with no record found where there should have been a record. Find out how Straightline International deals with this hidden problem.
Dec. 4, 2012 - PRLog -- An interesting set of circumstances occurred recently.

A court database had a glitch (bug, virus, flaw, etc....).

It went like this:

We ran the name ... it came back clear.

We sent the result as clear.

The customer called and said that the applicant admitted he had a criminal record.

So we ran the name again and got a hit.

We ran the name again to double check the result and got the hit again.

What's interesting is at my company we prepare for just this type of happenstance.

Believe me, it doesn't occur often, but....

As part of our quality control program, we save copies where and when we can of search results from courts, police, government entities, etc.

This was a case where we had the backup.

There in black and white, the glitch, flaw, whatever it is, showed up on the different result pages we had; both dated, one clear, one a record from the same court.

And that reminds me of a story when I was a court record retriever in DuPage County, IL.

I would check hundreds of names daily. This was when they first computerized the records in the early 1990's.

There would always be hits. Every day. At least, there should have been.

But one day I ran all hundred some names and they all were clear.

I became a little bit suspicious. Actually, I became quite paranoid.

That's when I remembered an old friend, Professional Ex- World Heavyweight Championship Boxer, Leon Spinks.

I knew, as well as everyone else in Chicagoland, that Leon had moved to the Chicago area from St. Louis and had several DUI cases in DuPage County.

It then struck me to check his name on the database.

And he came back clear - I mean, no record.

That meant all 100 plus name results ywrfnu were flawed. I'd have to run them again.

For this instance though, I paused and asked the clerk what, if anything, they knew about a problem with their database.

To which the she replied that yes they were aware of it.

It was something their IT department was working on.

That was it, non - chalantly , they're working on it.

So that day I had her manually check on 'their' system, not the public access system, the list of names.

She did all of them that day for me.

I had her check Leon Spinks' name first.

The record was present.

And from that day forward every time I did names in DuPage, which was daily, I always, and I mean ALWAYS, checked Leon Spink's name first to make sure that the computer system was working.

And it was never completely fixed; at least back then it wasn't.

I had forgotten that story until today.

This is a problem that is not well understood in our industry.

It is not widely publicized in governmental data processing circles, either.

I am not even sure if anyone is working on it.

What I can say is that the lesson I learned then, we still practice today.

At least at my company we do.

We take into consideration as many flaws that we are aware of and offset them with various means of search types.

We might check multiple sources; adding or refining methods combining to get you the best result.

Real results. Higher hit rates. Less problems down the road.

That's what our XR2 Puerto Rico Search does.

We try to eliminate as many flaws as possible.

And like I wrote, earlier, we keep the result data as backup.

Lessons might be forgotten. That's why we practice improvement-  to remember, even while others might not even be aware.

That's why I believe you should know, be sure of,  that your research company is not just a source  that's maybe a few dollars cheaper, maybe a few hours quicker - but someone that you can count on and trust for the utmost service and quality day in and day out.

You can contact Steven Brownstein at The Background Investigator or Straightline International.  Call Steven Brownstein directly at 1-670-256-7000 or by E-Mail at
Source:The Background Investigator
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Tags:Background Check, Pre-employment Screening, Criminal Record, Background, Court Record
Industry:Security, Human resources, Legal
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