The “Social Trace” – What It Is and What It Isn’t

One of the most common questions among HR professionals is: What really is the Social Security Trace?

Good question. We’re glad you asked because it is important to know what the “Social Trace” does and what it doesn’t do.

It DOES find addresses and aliases. It DOES NOT verify your applicant’s identity with the Government, even though it uses the government issued Social Security Number for part of the search. We will cover how to use the I-9 verification process to “match up” the Social Security Number with your applicant’s name in the next newsletter.

The “Social Trace” takes the information found in the credit headers of the three major credit bureaus and “bounces it off” 400 separate PRIVATE data bases. Here’s the information that can be returned:

  • Previous names, AKAs, alias names, misspelled names, and changed identity.
  • Whether the Social Security Number is a valid number, when it was issued and what state it was issued in. This is based upon how the Social Security Administration classifies its numbering system, and not based on applicant’s data.
  • Whether the person with that number has been reported as deceased.
  • Additional addresses where the applicant has lived or might be living now.
  • Other names that could be associated with a particular Social Security Number.
  • Extraneous “junk data” that can be ignored.

This information can provide the HR Professional with additional addresses to search for possible past criminal activity and other names that may have been used in committing a crime.

Expanding searches to undisclosed counties – where all but federal court information is stored – and to undisclosed identities can help provide a more complete Background Screening Report.

At ESR, we provide the Social Security Number Trace along with examination of the “Social Trace” by our in-house experts to help determine whether any of the names on the trace are associated with your applicant.