SSC BSI would like to make our clients aware of a concerning court ruling in Michigan that will impact ALL criminal searches in that state.
The state of Michigan has issued a rulemaking that requires redaction of date of birth (DOB) from public records effective July 1, 2021. This means that only one identifier (name) will be available on court records. Federal law and industry standards require at least two identifiers (for instance, Name + DOB or Name + Partial SSN). Therefore, this change will impact all criminal background checks in Michigan until further notice.
Despite significant opposition from our trade association, the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), the Michigan State Court Administrators have elected to move forward with this unsettling decision and prevent the proper release of information utilized to conduct background checks. Please note this is impacting ALL background screening companies nationwide.
For more information, you can view a PBSA alert HERE. If you would like to get involved and help influence change, we have included a sample letter template from PBSA for you to communicate to Michigan legislators. Please click HERE to download the letter template.
In terms of potential workarounds, please be advised that SSC has elected to offer the ICHAT system as an alternative option for conducting criminal checks in this state. ICHAT is the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT) and is the only public source for Michigan name-based criminal history searches. Please be advised this is NOT equivalent to a county criminal search. The cases found in this tool are limited to those offenses for which state law required the defendant to be fingerprinted, which does not include lower-level and some mid-level offenses. Please note SSC’s default protocol effective 7/1 will be to automatically convert your Michigan county criminal request to the ICHAT system. In addition to your base rate, there is a $10 court fee for this service. If you do NOT want to use the alternative ICHAT system, please immediately inform SSC and we will cancel your request in the system as there is no other known way to produce records at this time.
All ICHAT results will now communicate the following language in your background check report:
“You ordered a county criminal search in Michigan. Effective July 1, 2021, the state Supreme Court of Michigan ordered the removal of all personal identifiers from public court files other than the defendant’s name. A single identifier does not meet the requirements identified in the industry association’s accreditation program nor the standards as set forth by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for common names. Therefore, we have substituted a search of the Michigan State Police’s Internet Criminal History Access Tool. The cases found in this tool are limited to those offenses for which state law required the defendant to be fingerprinted, which does not include lower-level and some mid-level offenses. We express no opinion as to whether the ICHAT data is adequate for your needs or satisfies any regulations to which you are subject.”
We understand that this is not an ideal situation for our clients and share in your frustration. We sincerely hope that Michigan reverses their decision, however they do not appear to be budging at this time.
While I wish we could say this is the only state to implement restrictions, recently a number of California courts have begun removing DOB information from Public Access Terminals as well. In these cases, however, clerk assistance is still available to pull files and confirm potential matches. Please note that result turnaround time will be delayed in courts that require clerk assistance.
As always, if you have any questions please contact us.