While your name might not show up with a criminal record in a background check, what if an advertisement for a background check service used your name stating, “John Smith, arrested.” Although there may be someone with a criminal record under that name, you don’t have a criminal record. How would you feel if you saw this advertised while doing a simple search on the internet?
A few cases have shown up recently for professionals with ethnic sounding names finding that their names are listed in Instant Checkmate’s advertisements typically with the word, “arrested” or something equally misleading. This points to suspicion that the website, Instantcheckmate.com is using profiling in their advertisements. One example is Ebony Jefferson. When her name was found in an Instant Checkmate advertisement, it read, “Ebony Jefferson, arrested?” But when a similar name, Emily Jefferson was listed in an ad, it simply said, “We found Emily Jefferson.” Coincidence? Perhaps. However there are many instances where similar results were found in relation to ethnic sounding names being associated with listing words like “arrest” with those names in particular. Another example is the case of Latanya Sweeney,a Harvard University professor of government, whose name was found by a colleague while searching for an article Sweeney published. The ad listed her name alongside, “arrested” much like Ebony Jefferson.