We’ve all been there – you come to an online form that is asking for dozens of pieces of information. So naturally you look for the standard little red asterisks that tell you which fields are required and you just fill in those fields. It saves time, right? Well in the case of background screening forms you may end up spending more time review the results once the report comes back.

It is possible to perform background searches with as little as first name, last name and date of birth. But did you know that by providing a middle name and/or an address that you could improve the quality of your results? How, you ask. While it is true most criminal records are matched by name and date of birth, criminal records will often contain the offender’s full name as well as a last known address. By comparing the information in the criminal record to the information submitted as part of the background check request, your background screening company can potentially remove records from a report that do not belong to your applicant (these are known as false positives). But your service provider cannot compare to what isn’t there. Spending a few extra minutes transferring all of the data over to the application form is worth it if it saves you from having to make calls about multiple records on each report.

It is especially important to provide as much information as possible if your applicant has a common name. You would be surprised at the number of people named, “Michael Jones” born in a given year. The background check report came back with a violent felony for a Michael R. Jones. Is that your applicant? No, your applicant’s name is Michael A. Jones but you didn’t fill in the middle name. Fill in that middle name. It’s worth the effort.

It may seem silly to point out that putting in wrong information can lead to bad results but it happens every day. Putting the reversing the first and last names on the application form or misspelling a name are common mistakes. PeopleFacts’s automated search tools employ a robust set of matching logic to counter some of the common mistakes. Our BroadScreen criminal search (multi-jurisdictional) looks for common name variations Robert – also searches for Rob, Robbie, Bob, Bobbie, etc. But some county searches where there is a charge for each name searched are performed using the name as provided. When in doubt, enter the information of the applicant’s government-issued identification. Enter “Elizabeth” even if your applicant introduces herself as “Beth.”

Accurate output requires accurate input. Slow down, take your time when filling out the background check request form. Pay attention to the confirmation screen that pops up when you submit. A little time on the front end will pay off in the form of better results.

PeopleFacts customers: watch for the next edition of InsideTrak. We will show a real-world example of how better data entry produces better results. The difference will surprise you!