The Rising Threat from Bad Data
The routine background check that sent Steven Calderon to jail by mistake may have been an isolated incident. But the inaccurate, rarely verified data that caused the error sure isn't. There's a lot of bad data out there, and the brokers that sell it saySteven Calderon had a clean record, a clean conscience and no reason to think that his new employers routine background check would cause any problem at all. Then the sheriff showed up at the office and took him to jail on warrants for child molestation and rape. A nightmare? Sure, but Calderon figured it was a mistake that could be cleared up pretty quickly. Hed reported the theft of his Social Security number and birth certificate in 1993, so it was obvious that the bad guy was whoever had stolen Calderons identity. A week later he was still in jail, a victim of bad information from data broker ChoicePointand of the blind belief held by his employer, the police and everyone else involved that he was more likely to be lying than the data was.
ChoicePoint says its data is troublesome in only a tiny fraction of the millions of background checks it performs every year.