What Can Prince Teach Us About Alias Names and Background Checks?

Nick Fishman

Many employers struggle with the question of whether they should perform a criminal background check under the candidate’s current name or if it should be expanded to include alias names or AKA’s (i.e. maiden name, nick names, etc.).

Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that nearly every U.S. court files records by the name the person was using at the time of the conviction.  However, in some very rare instances you could pick up convictions that were filed under an alias name.

For instance, famous pop music star Prince has also gone by the following names: Prince Rogers Nelson, Jamie Starr, Christopher, Alexander Nevermind, Joey Coco, Prince logo.svg (not a typo, he actually referred to himself as this symbol), The Artist Formerly Known As Prince and The Artist.  So if your conducted a background check on “Prince”, you wouldn’t find a record that was filed under the name Joey Coco.  Just to clarify, I am not aware of any crimes committed by Prince.  By all accounts, he a normal (maybe not), law-abiding citizen.  Now, this is a fairly ridiculous example because who has this many names and in fairness, only a couple of these would have been legal names.

That said, we wholeheartedly tell our clients that if you want to conduct a comprehensive search, it is always best to include additional names.  These names can be identified using a combination of that which is provided to you by the candidate and that which is found on an address history or social security number trace.

Based on our exhaustive research, here are the numbers that should guide your decision.

Records Found Under Alias Names Only (for any type of criminal record search: county, state, national, etc.)

  • If a record is filed under an alias name and that name is not searched, you will miss the record 89% of the time.
  • Conversely, only 11% of the time will a record be found under an alias name if that specific name is not searched.
  • On average, 12% of all the records we find at EmployeeScreenIQ are felonies.  However, 25% of the records we find under alias names are felonies.

National Criminal Database and Alias Name Hits

  • 79% of applicants with hits were based on the current name only.
  • 21% of applicants had alias names listed as well as the current name. Zero records were returned with an alias name only.
  • The national database will not find records under alias names, if the alias name was not originally part of the search.
  • The national database will not find records missed at the county level because clients declined to run alias names.

So when it comes down to it, the numbers don’t lie.  Any time you conduct an employment background check, you should definitely consider all of the names identified by the candidate and on the address history search.  Do this and you will dramatically increase your ability to thoroughly vet the candidate and hire with confidence.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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