Photo of a judge using a gavel.

February 25, 2021

Investigative Identifiers: What, Why, How

With recent court decisions putting the research of arrest records squarely on HR and candidates, it’s important to understand exactly how criminal records are validated… especially if you’re crazy and not using Atlantic, since some screening companies are now expecting you to do the research. Atlantic provides only validated reports using an extensive verification system. Our research team will only report once we are confident that the report belongs solely to your candidate. Here are some examples of what type of identifiers are out there in the criminal investigation world.


While it may not seem like an identifying factor, there’s a huge difference between a John Smith and a Johnathan Polk Smith. It’s why you may receive an e-mail requesting a middle name. While some records may be under nicknames, most courts will enter them as an alias rather than the prime moniker.

Date of Birth

Court-reported information varies from county to county, but almost all records are guaranteed with month/date/year, month/date, or at the very least, year of birth. While common names most definitely need additional identifiers, it’s a first signal that a record could possibly belong to the person currently being screened.


A place where someone has once resided is perhaps the most distinguishable verification point. A vast majority of courts will report addresses on affidavits, booking sheets, and plenty of other court documents to match criminal records to a candidate. A perfect example is the sex offender registry, where each offender must notify the state of their current residence, giving researchers access to an attribute that is solely characteristic.

Exclusive Numbers

We could all agree the most distinctive identifier would be the social security number (be it the full number or the last four). Unfortunately, most courts do not report such personal information on public documents. But those are not the only identifiable numbers belonging to a singular person. A drivers’ license number could be used as an identifier in many cases when an address is not listed. In several instances, criminal identification numbers (such as a Department of Corrections number, a Bureau of Prisons number, Criminal Investigations Division number) will be tied to a particular person, and can also be used as a sure-fire identifier.

Distinguishing Factors

Identifiers such as signature, listed tattoo, and even car make, color and/or license plate number could make or break a validation process. The investigative process can even show phone numbers or e-mail address matches in research.

While the rest of our industry is constantly changing with litigation, Atlantic has absolutely no plans to change our validation system. Instead of receiving a data-dump, you’ll receive a completed report with the offense and full disposition details; you can rest assured knowing that the records reported do belong to your applicant. As you can see, there is extensive research that needs to be completed before that can happen.