Does a Name Change Affect an Employee Background Check?

by Anna Green
You may need to disclose any name changes for a background check.

You may need to disclose any name changes for a background check.

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Whether you have divorced, married or completed a voluntary name change, a background check will still show any criminal convictions, civil lawsuits, bankruptcies and job changes regardless of your current name. Thus, even though you may have legal or professional records listed under a previous name, your credit and legal history will still be available to employers unless the information has been expunged or sealed from official record searches.

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Background Check Basics

Many employers use professional background check services to verify an applicant's criminal history, credit history and work history. These private services frequently use official FBI and state and local law enforcement records. Employers are prohibited from conducting a background check without an applicant's written consent. The background check consent form will outline all of the information the employer is seeking, such as conviction record, work history or credit report data. Some background checks will also require you to have your fingerprints taken by a law enforcement office or other government agency.

Name Changes and Other Identifying Information

When you consent to the background check, you will generally need to provide your current full name, date of birth, Social Security number and previous addresses. Even if you do not list all of your previous names, other identifying information, such as your birth date, Social Security number and fingerprints, bring up your background information even if it is listed under a different name. Thus, even if your legal name or alias is not connected with your Social Security number, previous places of employment or a majority of your records, the prospective employer will still be able to find the information he needs.

Disclosure of Other Names

As part of the background check process, employers often ask applicants to list all of their previous legal names and aliases. In other words, employers recognize that workers may change their name over the course of their careers. Further, many background check forms require employees to certify that they are providing accurate information. Thus, even if you believe the employer can access your full background history by providing only your current name, failing to disclose other legal names and aliases may lead an employer to disqualify you from employment. This holds true even if you did not intend to conceal information. It is therefore important to give prospective employers all of your past names, even if you do not have any employment, credit or criminal records under your old name.

Database Checks

Some employers may also ask their background check providers to look at city, county, state and national databases for applicants’ previous names or changed names. These checks might not just include former legal names but also aliases and alternate spellings of your legal name. These databases are thorough and can cross-check data based on the information listed on your job application. This will give employers a broader look at your credit, work and legal history.