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8 Key Considerations for Selecting a People-Data Provider

By Greg Jones

People data can reveal important information for business risk management and help assist with making valuable business decisions. This makes selecting a people-data provider for comprehensive background information crucial. 

Unfortunately, this can be challenging if you’re new to the background screening industry or even if you’re a veteran in the space. With so many background data providers out there, where do you even start?  How do you measure data vendors against one another?

To make things even more difficult, the industry has shifted from the impact of the pandemic, and so have the search criteria for selecting a people-data provider. This makes knowing what to look for in a provider even more critical.  Keep in mind, you can always work with more than just one people-data vendor to fulfill your extensive background data needs!

The Changing People-Data Landscape

With criminal records dispersed throughout the United States across federal, state, and local courts, finding the data you need has always been difficult. Traditionally, this information could only be retrieved manually by court runners, who physically went to the courthouses. Now, people-data providers are more advanced in their ability to quickly provide data-driven insights leveraging automation for faster turnaround times and better accuracy.

These options for retrieving data have evolved as the criminal justice system continues to see process changes.  When the COVID pandemic forced courthouses across the country to pivot their operations to remote, essentially overnight, it delayed important court operations.

This pushed courts to adapt to innovative processes to meet the pressures of the pandemic, including investing in technology to improve e-filing, virtual hearings, and case management. Digital tools helped courts streamline processes and adapt to survive in unanticipated circumstances.

This of course had enormous impacts that trickled down to the people-data landscape as court and criminal data moved increasingly online. It also influenced how consumer reporting agencies and other background screeners search for the people-data they need.

The Primary Elements to Look for in a People-Data Vendor 

So how do all of these changes influence how you select a people-data vendor?  Well, you need to find one that operates in the ways of the world today, and not in past processes, which may be full of delays.

Here are the 9 top considerations to think about when selecting a data insight agency.

1. Easily Accessible, User-friendly Search Experience 

Searching for people-risk data can be quite challenging on your own. This makes having a reliable people-data provider with an intuitive interface increasingly important. A search experience that is hard to navigate can take up valuable time and resources. Meanwhile, a simple, user-friendly interface can streamline the research process, helping you find the information you need quickly. 

Ideally, people-data providers will offer flexible options to search their data to allow you to find the data you need within your current workflow, whether that be through an API connection, background screening platform, or even their own portal or app. 

2. Customizable, Flexible Search Options

Working with a people-data vendor who offers customizable, flexible searches helps them fit your ever-changing organizational needs.  Sometimes you need full-scope background screening options, other times you may just need to verify someone’s identity.  Select a vendor who offers most of the search options you need to continue to streamline your search process. 

3. Advanced Technology Available

Using real-time technology, like automation, to directly access court records can streamline criminal background checks.  You’ll be able to access criminal records the same day – no more waiting for those long turnaround times seen from sending someone directly to the court.

And, with automation, you won’t need to worry about missing out on the most recent criminal records.  They’re coming directly from the court into your queue!

4. Extensive Source Coverage & Transparency

Finding data records dispersed throughout all 51 jurisdictions in the United States is challenging.  You’ll want to ensure your people-data provider has access to as much pertinent data scattered across federal, state, and local courts as possible.  This will minimize your need to look elsewhere for missing data and keep your background checks on time.

The best way to understand a data provider’s coverage is to ask for their source list.  The jurisdictions they cover can be combined with other key resources to provide full transparency into their sources.  Find out if they have a current status page where you can check for source outage updates, or maybe even a Tier Map to better understand the data you’ll receive from each jurisdiction.  Source transparency is critical to finding a great people-risk data partner.

5. Reliable Information

Before selecting a people-data vendor, make sure to test their data!  Having data sources you can trust will help you protect your business and reputation, while allowing you to run more accurate background searches the first time.

6. Fast Turnaround Time

Whether you’re leveraging court runners or using automation, finding a data provider who can meet your tight turnaround times is crucial.  Of course, if you’re looking to expedite your turnaround times, automated retrieval methods can certainly help and minimize the need for manual processes.

7. Cost Effective Searches

Finding a background data provider who can work with you on pricing is important.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you should go with the lowest cost provider, but rather finding a provider with a combination of searches that allows you to search and pay for only what you need.

Maybe this means leveraging automation to save money on clears rather than sending a court runner each time you need to access criminal records.  This type of cost-cutting measure can be incredibly beneficial to your bottom line.

8. Dedicated Customer Support Team

Having a strong line of communication with the customer service team is another valuable consideration. Support should be easy to get a hold of and ready to assist, if not already proactively addressing customer issues. After all, customer support should be one of the client’s most valuable points of contact to fix any issues in a timely manner, so that background screenings are not further delayed. 

The data provider’s support team may even offer a proactive approach to help alleviate service disruptions that can impact turnaround times, such as communicating source outages, maintenance, or other support notifications to customers with the same urgency as user-specific issues. 

Tessera Data Offers Full-Scope, Data-Driven Insights

Gain full scope insights through a comprehensive people-data provider.  Tessera’s solutions help you access people-data without the hassle. You decide when, where, and how you access our expert data-driven solutions. 

Discover Data that Makes the Difference 

The Tessera team is committed to improving the people-data research process to help communities identify potential risks. Our innovative retrieval and mapping methods streamline the background screening process through:

  • Faster Turnaround Times: Perform rapid real-time record retrieval and instant searches for same-day results.
  • Analysis-Ready Data: Tessera’s remote data solutions are scalable with customizable, flexible customer search experiences.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Search data from 10,000 sources with access to 99% of the United States population’s criminal data.
  • All-in-One Data Insights: Discover the data-driven insights you need from a single provider with technology that can access criminal, court, and motor vehicle records.


Let us show you the difference.

Talk to a member of our sales team for more information and a demo on how our solutions compare to traditional data vendors to make selecting a people-data provider easy. 

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