The Importance of Alias Names in Background Screens

, , , | November 14, 2022 | By

Besides making a name change for marriage or divorce, there are several reasons people can have aliases or also-known-as (AKA) names. Some choose to go by a middle name, while others may go by a nickname or some other variation of their legal name. These aliases are critical to the background check process because you want to check for all names associated with an individual, not just their current legal name. To do that, you’ll need to ask for aliases during the background screening process. You should also use software that enables fast and comprehensive searches on all names and aliases for a person.


Why Searching Alias Names in Background Screens Is Important

Believe it or not, the most common criminal record identifier isn’t always the social security number. Many court systems—the original source of most criminal records—use first and last names to enable individual record searches, in part because social security numbers aren’t usually provided or verified during an arrest. Other identifiers such as date of birth and driver’s license number are also helpful, but first and last names are often the starting point.

When individuals have unique names, they’re easier to find in databases and physical court records. But if you want to hire an applicant named Stephen Jones, you may also find records for Steven Jones, Steve Jones III, Stephen William Jones, and several other variations, including misspellings. More than one of these name variations could apply to the same person, which is one reason why it’s always best to know upfront what other names applicants have used in the past.

Variation of the same name is just one example of an alias. Other people change their names completely. For example, an estimated 70 to 80 percent of women change from their maiden name to their spouse’s name after marriage. But there are other reasons someone may use more than one name over the course of their education and professional career. Examples include:

  • Being adopted by a new family
  • Making a gender identity change
  • To make a name easier to pronounce

Given the many reasons an applicant may have one or more names, it’s critical to conduct a background check that includes all alias names for an individual. In doing so, you’ll ensure a more complete and accurate background check result.


How Background Check Software Enables Alias Searches

A comprehensive background check includes several core elements, including: 

  • A social security number (SSN) trace, including all names, aliases, and addresses associated with an applicant’s social security number.
  • A county criminal history search.
  • A criminal history database search. 
  • A search of all sex offender registries.

To ensure these searches are accurate, it’s essential to work with a screening provider that uses effective background check software. Software enables multiple searches for a single individual with greater speed and accuracy than manual searches. For example, a social security number trace performed via background check software can quickly yield every name, alias, and address associated with an individual for the last seven years. From there, this data serves as a foundation on which you can add additional searches. These can include:

  • Motor vehicle records searches.
  • Additional court searches, including federal courts.
  • Professional license and employment verifications.
  • Education history verifications.


Check All Names for a Complete Background Screen

The best way to discover all known names of prospective employees and volunteers is to ask at the beginning of the background screening process. A reputable screening provider can help you obtain aliases, AKAs, and former names, so you can ensure a more complete background check. Your provider should also use innovative background screening technology to capture relevant data and deliver results efficiently and accurately.


To learn more about how BIB uses modern technology and proven screening processes to help organizations, schools, and non-profits screen applications successfully, reach out to start the conversation.