Los Angeles Court’s Revised Search Procedures On Criminal Background Checks

The recent revision in the search procedures by the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, eliminating the use of date of birth as criteria in criminal name search engines, carries significant implications for the landscape of criminal background checks.

Navigating Changes

Effective starting February 23, 2024, DOB is no longer available on LA County courthouse records, and extends to both courthouse kiosks and the Court’s website, prompting individuals and organizations reliant on background checks to adapt to the ensuing changes.
Underpinning this shift is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a federal law governing consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) and their handling of consumer information, including criminal background checks. A pivotal aspect of the FCRA is the mandate for CRAs to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information they report.

The removal of birth month and year from search criteria poses challenges to accurate matching of consumer data. This alteration amplifies the complexity of matching consumer data, particularly impacting scenarios with common names, aliases, and data overlap. Common names may now generate more false positives, requiring careful discrediting. The absence of birth date may lead to missed matches for individuals using variations of their names or nicknames, potentially resulting in under-reporting of criminal records.

The significance of personally identifiable information (PII), including birthdates, in ensuring accurate matching cannot be overstated. Birth month and year serve as unique identifiers, aiding in distinguishing between individuals. However, the Court’s decision to redact this information aims to enhance privacy and reduce the risk of identity theft, introducing complexities for background checks.

Adapting to Change

Consumer reporting agencies and employers bear the brunt of the impact caused by the Superior Court’s revised search criteria. Delays in background checks are anticipated due to the removal of month and year of birth identifiers and other PII, making accurate matching more challenging. The comprehensive detection of criminal history is compromised, potentially resulting in incomplete or less comprehensive reports, influencing employers’ ability to make informed hiring decisions.

Employers may need to reassess their risk tolerance and adopt mitigating controls to navigate the challenges posed by the revised search procedures. 

Mitigating controls include:

  • Expanded Interviews
  • Secondary verification through cross-referencing with other sources
  • Documented processes to demonstrate due diligence
  • Loss Prevention Measures
  • Workplace Violence Programs
  • Reconsideration of insurance policies covering employee crimes

As employers adapt to these changes, the landscape of background checks in Los Angeles evolves, requiring a nuanced approach tailored to specific industries and job roles. Risk-averse employers may explore shifting background-sensitive positions to locations where court procedures do not expose them to the risk posed by the revised search criteria.

In essence, the Superior Court’s decision necessitates a comprehensive reassessment of existing processes and the implementation of robust measures to maintain the integrity of background checks in the face of these significant changes.

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Turn’s Blog does not provide legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Companies should consult their own legal counsel to address their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and local laws. Turn explicitly disclaims any warranties or assumes responsibility for damages associated with or arising out of the provided information.

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