If you’ve been reading our articles lately or even just skimmed our homepage, you’ve probably noticed we use the phrases “close to the data” and “closer to the data” quite a bit. It has almost become our mantra, “close to the data,” repeated over and over again across our website, marketing collateral, tradeshow booth, etc.
Why are we so obsessed with “the data” and your proximity to it?
Simply put, because connecting background screening companies like yours directly to the original sources of criminal records and court data is our mission. And, we believe, this is what sets us apart in the employment background screening industry.
What Is ‘The Data’?
In the context of a criminal background check, the data is the official and definitive source of criminal conviction information: court records from the county level on up.
It’s important to recognize that there is no single source — or even just a few sources — of criminal background information. Each county-level jurisdiction (or in some cases, each state) in America oversees access to its own data.
What Does It Mean to Get ‘Close’ to the Data?
When we talk about getting your background screening firm (and, by extension, your end-users) close to the data, we mean eliminating any unnecessary layers between you and the county-level court records.
It’s a fact of doing business that the more people involved in any process, the longer it will take, and the more chances for human error there will be. The same logic applies to criminal background checks.
Very often, third-party providers of criminal background screening data will team up with other third-parties who actually perform the research, especially when the research requires visiting courts in person.
When a record is found, the data may pass through several hands before it reaches the end-user. Each step along the way is an opportunity for someone to make a mistake — misspell or transpose a name, for example..
Extra layers also mean less transparency and communication.
Third-parties typically serve multiple clients, and there’s no guarantee they will prioritize your data or respond directly to your inquiries. If a third-party gets bogged down with someone else’s work, you may simply have to wait your turn.
Getting close to the data means breaking through all of that and putting you, the consumer reporting agency, in control. This will help your CRA succeed in a hypercompetitive market by satisfying your end-users in the five performance areas they value the most: accuracy, turnaround time, customization, transparency, and cost-effectiveness.
How SJV Gets Background Screening Companies Closer to the Data
At SJV Data Solutions, we don’t think a third-party with conflicting priorities should define your relationships with your end-users. We aim to give you complete control of the data, and we can because we have absolute control of our data.
For the past two decades, we’ve worked to break down the barriers that separate our CRA users from the direct sources of criminal records data. No other data provider can offer the level of flexibility, customization, and transparency we provide.
As we wrote above, every criminal jurisdiction in America controls access to its own records. We designed (and are continually improving) our three-tiered research system to get the information from these sources directly into your hands in as few steps as possible while accounting for the different technological capabilities and processes present in each jurisdiction.
Level 1: Automation
Automated criminal background checks get you closer to the data than any other research method.
Our software engineers have pioneered a system that “scrapes” county-level data for criminal information, replacing human researchers with automated bots. Software automation eliminates middlemen — and therefore, delays and human error — from the criminal background screening equation.
Not every court website is up to our standards for automation. And not every court even has a website. Nevertheless, our direct-source automated court research solution covers nearly 1,800 county-level jurisdictions through real-time court data extraction and screen scraping.
Currently, we can perform criminal record searches in about 60% of counties in the United States through automation — and we expect automation to cover a greater percentage in the near future.
Level 2: Our Proprietary Research Network
To handle the vast majority of cases in which courts lack the proper websites for automation, we maintain a network of full-time trained criminal background screening researchers who work only for SJV.
Every member of our proprietary research network is a graduate of our rigorous researcher certification program, which includes classroom and on-the-job training. They all work within our in-house search management and reporting tool (SMART), which uses powerful error-proofing mechanisms to ensure the data’s integrity and quality.
When our proprietary network is on the job, no outside entity will ever touch your data. Every link in the chain of transmission must meet our sky-high standards for quality, accuracy, and efficiency.
Level 3: Our Certified Third-Party Vendor Partners
Between our automated solution and our proprietary research network, SJV’s internal research processes cover about 90% of county-level court data in the United States. The remaining 10% is located mainly in remote or less densely-populated areas where it would be inefficient to assign a team of full-time researchers.
To make sure that no stone goes unturned for your end-users, we cover these hard-to-reach areas by partnering with reliable, highly qualified, fully-vetted third-party researchers.
These researchers are the best in the business. Each of our third-party partners has completed our vendor certification program and meets the same high standards we set for our internal team members. We demand responsiveness, accuracy, and professionalism.
Whenever possible, we choose to partner with local background screening researchers who understand their jurisdiction's nuances and who don’t answer to administrators in far-away cities. When there are issues, delays, or special requests to discuss, we prefer to communicate with our partners directly rather than wade through layers of go-betweens.
Learn More About SJV’s Industry-Leading Criminal Records Research Platform
This article has provided a high-level overview of the best-in-class three-tiered research network we use at SJV to get you and your end-users closer to the original sources of criminal records data than any other provider.
Our latest online guide offers a more detailed explanation, along with an assessment of the current market for criminal background screening and tips on positioning your CRA for growth and profit in 2021 and beyond.
Click below for your free copy.