Databases Have Known Holes, But Would You Guess They’re More Expensive Too?
June 5, 2009
One of my favorite weekly pieces in The Wall Street Journal is the “Cranky Consumer” feature. It’s mystery shop kind of article; picking a product or service, 4 or 5 competitors, and evaluating each on the basis of quality, service and price. Recently, they hit close to home.
Investigating Online Private Eyes
CRANKY CONSUMER MAY 21, 2009
A Google search takes you only so far. If you really want the dirt on potential suitors, business partners and tenants, you have to dig deeper. Services that conduct background checks say they can find everything from a subject’s prior addresses to credit-card use and even criminal records.
We tested four Web-based background-check services, Intelius, InfoRegistry, US Search, and NetDetective, to see what they could tell us about our chosen subject, a 50-year-old medical technician in Washington state who agreed to review results with us. Some facets of her life we thought would be easy to research, like the fact that she has lived at the same address for more than two decades. More complicated, a woman in our subject’s hometown shares the same name — it’s a pretty common one — albeit with a modified middle-name spelling.
To a qualified employment screening company, there’s actually nothing complicated about that. It’s a very good piece though. Look at the variances in the type and quality of information provided by these databases. We know where much of this information comes from so the lack of quality wasn’t a shock. But I have to be honest. employeescreenIQ sells these services for far less money that these four companies charged!
It was also interesting to see some of these firms charge a flat fee for unlimited usage for a set period of time. And maybe it’s a good deal if you’re using it 100 times, but it’s a bad one if you’re only using it a few. And more so, it is surprising to see fees range from $30 to $50 without a promise that information requested will actually be provided. You’re basically paying for the attempt, not success, of the effort.
But surprising and interesting becoming worrisome at the user’s intent.
Looking to find someone you’ve lost touch with? Perhaps. Using this to hire your next latex salesman? Bad, bad, bad idea. The article includes several examples of false positives, which are positively common for companies that do not use a reputable employment screening company. Ironic when no info is better than wrong info!
Have a great weekend everyone!
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