“I’d rather be in the position of not hiring someone because of what I found than having to explain why I did, and they did something wrong,” Ty Ann Osborn director of human resources for the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation is reported as saying.  Employers have a good reason for such care because of a negligent hiring suit or theft and embezzlement, at worst, or just having a lazy, useless employee.  Landlords have similar concerns and take care because of the possibility of a negligent renting suit and an all-around bad tenant.

The problem becomes, though, what if you can’t find anything?  They seem like the ideal applicants.  Trouble is, they don’t exist.  When you run their credit, it comes back “No Record Found.”  That is cause for concern because in this day and age, you don’t “exist” if there’s no record.

What we’ll look at here are ways to overcome the “No Record Found” problem.

Should “no record” immediately disqualify an applicant?  No, there could be three reasons that hold the applicant blameless and a fourth that means “Reject.”

First, they might not “believe in credit” and have never have applied for credit (credit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc.) while keeping their money buried in a can in the backyard and paying cash for everything.  Second, they might be a young adult with a fresh out of the box high school or college diploma who has never succumbed to a credit card and whose mom and dad paid for everything.  Third, the information in their credit report might have been inputted incorrectly.  They really do exist, but their name is spelled wrong.  That could be the fault of the person entering the information or the fault of the messy handwriting of the applicant.

Then there’s the fourth reason: the applicant is trying to deceive you.

At the point where nothing comes back, you could certainly reject the applicant.  Not coming up with a record is a red flag that entitles you to send him or her out the door.  But this applicant seems like a good fit, but you aren’t sure.  And if you aren’t sure, you don’t have enough information.

We have several options to clear the matter up.  First, ask to see picture ID, then check the spelling and note the address on the ID.  Now ask to see your applicant’s social security card.  Does everything match the application?  If not, it’s obvious what to do. Before going any further, though, ask the applicant why the information is different.  The answer had better be good.

But say the information matches.  We have access to several other avenues to verify the existence of this person.  The easiest one is the Social Search.  With a Social Search, the Social Security Administration will report every address where this person has lived and every employer this person has worked for.  If you get a “No Record” there, run up 10 red flags. If the record comes back as someone else or someone else and that person, this story had better be good, too.  Assuming this person wants a job and has listed previous employers, you have reason to reject immediately. There’s obviously something off beam.

Then there’s the criminal records search.  That may be a wealth of information or nothing at all.

All that done, there are social media searches.  Start with Facebook.  If you have a less-than-honorable applicant, Facebook may provide “interesting” and useful information.  Crooks, for example, are not the sharpest tacks in the box and like glory in bragging about their various nefarious activities.  So pull up their Facebook account and see what they are bragging or complaining about.  Bragging about a fraud they have committed would not only run up a red flag and also make you dig out the rejection letter, fill it out, and send it.  They also might complain about something such as being fired or evicted.  Enough said there.  Another post might be a sigh of relief about not being caught committing some illegal or unethical activity.

Linkedin might be worth checking, too, but that’s mostly for people who have jobs and own businesses and services.  Even so, it’s worth a check.  Likewise Twitter might turn up something.

The important thing here is not to let this person talk you into hiring or renting to him or her if you aren’t sure.  Be sure or reject.  It’s that simple.  Employers and landlords are under no obligation to prove an applicant worthy of working for or renting from them.  That burden is on the shoulders of the applicant.

Credit reporting expert and attorney Sonya Smith-Valentine warns that the driving force behind credit checks (and all verifications, for that matter) is litigation protection.  If an employer is sued for negligent hiring or a landlord for negligent renting and is sued, if either “did not do an appropriate background check, [the plaintiff] can use it at trial.”

By Robert L. Cain

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