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What is a SSN Trace Report and How to Use it

March 31, 2020

A background check is the fundamental first step in employment verification. For health care organizations, verifying the identity, history, and other important information about a provider is essential to patient safety.

A social security number trace report is a component of the background check that provides information about the names, addresses, and dates of birth associated with a social security number.

Here is more information about what you can find in a social security number trace report, how it is useful, its limitations and reliability.

What is a social security trace?

A social security trace report is the first step in a background check. It verifies a provider or individual’s social security number and matches it to names — such as maiden names or possible aliases — addresses, and dates of birth associated with their record. If an applicant has concealed a name or identity, a social security trace is a good place to start for discovery.

Who should order the social security number trace?

A social security number trace is commonly used for employment verification. Anytime a background check is required for employment or credentialing, a social security number trace is included.

The information provided in a social security number trace can be used to find other names or aliases a person has used and provide a more complete picture of an individual’s identity. Aliases, other names, and addresses can be used for more thorough database searches.

What is the information source for a social security number trace?

A social security number trace has hundreds of information sources, both public and private. Some of these information sources include:

  • Credit header information from credit bureaus
  • US Postal Service (USPS) mail forwarding records
  • Voter registration records

This information is aggregated from many different sources and is not a substitution for or equivalent to a credit report and does not include a credit score.

Is a social security number trace dependable?

The information provided by a social security number trace is as dependable as the information reported to credit bureaus and other information sources. Since the data is aggregated, it can include information that is incomplete, inaccurate, or even belonging to another person. It may also not return any information depending on the age and credit history of the person associated with the social security number.

Because of these shortcomings, a social security number trace shouldn’t be used as a sole source of data for any hiring decisions or to complete a background check.

How many years back does the social security number trace go?

A social security number trace can recall records for up to 3-10 years, depending on the type of information and the information source. Address histories are available for up to 10 years.

What is included in a typical employee background check?

A typical background check pulls data from the following sources:

  • Social security number trace
  • State, county, and national criminal records database
  • FBI fingerprint database
  • Sex offender registry
  • Federal exclusions lists and databases

This is not an exhaustive list, and some background checks, including those offered by Verisys, search thousands of public and private databases.

What a social security number trace does not do

A social security number trace does not verify or confirm a social security number’s owner. The trace report provides all of the associated names and addresses with the number and it’s possible, either through error or fraud, to have incorrect information associated with a social security number.

It is also not a comprehensive source of information on a person. It is the applicant and the employer’s responsibility to further verify and source out any suspect or misleading information in the trace.

A social security trace report is one component of a robust employment and verification process. Verisys utilizes thousands of databases and millions of records to create a complete picture of an individual’s background, work history, experience, and other important information. Using hundreds of records allows our clients to accurately match data with the right provider or entity and fill in the gaps left by individual queries alone.

Heather Lynn GillmanWritten by Heather Lynn Gillman
Director of Healthcare Communications
Problem Solver. Designer. Wine Maker. Writer.
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