Background Check Expert Explains Problems with Michigan DOB Redaction

Background Screening News

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

“Michigan plans to omit personal information from future court records, but the background checking industry says the change will make accurate screening nearly impossible,” according to an article posted on MLive.com that interviewed several background check experts, including screening industry veteran Dawn Standerwick.

“Background checkers can’t report a criminal hit unless they’re positive they have the right person,” explained Standerwick, the vice president of strategic growth at Employment Screening Resources® (ESR), a leading global background check provider that is headquartered in the San Francisco, California area.

MLive.com reported that Michigan planned to “remove information like dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, passport numbers, and financial account information in hopes of curbing identity theft as more court records move online. Background screeners say keeping dates of birth, specifically, off public records is a bad idea.”

On June 30, 2021, the Michigan Supreme Court issued orders to delay the implementation of ADM File No. 2017-28 and ADM File No. 2020-26 that would redact the Date of Birth (DOB) in the criminal records of job applicants used for background checks. The implementation date has been changed from July 1, 2021, to January 1, 2022.

A spokesman for the Michigan Supreme Court said the six-month extension would give more time for Michigan’s courts to figure out the changes and that the purpose of the delay was not to reconsider the change. “Screening agencies have had two years to adjust their processes to allow for the change,” the spokesman told MLive.com.

The article explained that the state suggested the background check industry use the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT), but that background screeners claimed ICHAT was less accurate than files from the court. “Michigan’s ICHAT is squarely on the unreliable list,” Standerwick said.

“Other states have considered removing dates of birth from public records but have decided against it after understanding the consequences,” added Standerwick, who served on the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) Board of Directors and was recognized as the longest serving board member in PBSA history.

The article titled “Background checks could become inaccurate under new Michigan court rule, screeners warn” written by Taylor DesOrmeau is available at www.mlive.com/public-interest/2021/07/background-checks-could-become-inaccurate-under-new-michigan-court-rule-screeners-warn.html (subscription needed).

In June 2021, the PBSA sent a letter to the Michigan Supreme Court to explain how the rule affects background checks: “If implemented, this rule will likely cause a halt in hiring and rental housing placements in Michigan. It is not merely inconvenient; it is set to upend all rental housing and employment decisions in Michigan.”

The letter continued: “Background checks are a critical component of the employment and rental process. Employers, property managers, and consumers alike depend on our members to search public records to determine whether a particular record belongs to a candidate being considered for employment or housing.”

The PBSA represents the interest of more than 880 member companies that offer employment and tenant background screening services, advances excellence in the screening profession, and is the trusted global authority for the background screening profession. To learn more about the PBSA, visit https://thepbsa.org/.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a founding member of the PBSA that was ranked the number one screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – is accredited by the PBSA by successfully completing the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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