As a licensed minister, motivational speaker, and author of several books continuously in the public eye I take my reputation pretty seriously. While temporarily transitioning professionally after just getting married, I sought to take a job as a public school teacher at a local high school. I was immediately hired.
After completing orientation at the local county school board, I was ready begin the following Monday. That is until I received a phone call from the personnel investigator requesting that I appear before him at the local school board for a face to face interview before I commenced work.
Not knowing what this was about, I felt all weekend a bit nervous, like I was going to the principal’s office back in high school. The suspense was eating at me as the investigator refused to talk about the matter over the telephone. To comply with his request, I made the hour-and-a-half drive to the local county school board and appeared to answer his questions.
After the initial greeting and giving my driver’s license to the investigator, he began questioning me. Curiously, he asked if I had ever been to Parkridge, Illinois. I couldn’t say I had, nor had I ever heard about the place (which I was later told was a small suburb of 30,000 people outside of Chicago).
Later I learned that someone bearing my same name and nearly my same birthday (assuming it wasn’t identity theft, which I had experienced with a credit card the last time I stayed in Chicago when passing through for a day) had been arrested for a sex offense.
Knowing assuredly it wasn’t me, I immediately went home and visited the State of Illinois’ website and navigated to the sex offender link. Upon typing in my name, I found three males all who were sex offenders. Thankfully there pictures were also visible, further verifying they were not me. Of course that was a relief.
I immediately phoned the Parkridge Police Department and informed them, asking them to clear my good name. I also printed out the description of these three men along with their photographs and faxed them along with my driver’s license and passport to the Parkridge Police. Detective Ware told me “this is ridiculous” commenting on the fact our images didn’t match, neither our fingerprints.
Yet the FBI file was showing me whenever my social security number was being pulled up. The moral of the story is if you have a common name, or a name that someone else also bears; you may be unpleasantly surprised to find crimes on your criminal FBI report. It was then I realized why for over 2 years whenever Homeland Security and the U.S. Government ran background checks on me for high level governmental jobs, it was taking so long.
Thankfully I now am working through this and correcting the inaccuracies on record.
For God sake before you judge a person, do some thorough research and know the facts. Unfortunately investigator Chandler who did my background check for Homeland Security in 2007 told me that most likely few agencies or employers will be diligently enough to actually check and verify the records, and tend to believe whatever they pull up.