by Meridith Levinson Helps Employers Find Potential Hires’ Reputations Online

Jul 15, 20013 mins
IT Leadership

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find unbiased people to give their opinions of a potential employee?, launched in January, seems to offer such a service with its 100-plus MB database of the names of 25 million Americans. But don’t count on its helping you in your hiring dilemmas.

Los Angeles-based RepCheck promotes its website as “the most comprehensive source of information regarding the opportunities and risks of interacting with any individual.” Of its 25 million entries (names obtained from the White Pages), just 50,000 may also include the city and state in which they live and comments written about them. CEO and founder Andrew Maltin says that 1,000 names are added each day, however.

Other people-search sites like KnowX and US Search obtain data on driving records and credit history from public databases. RepCheck differs by offering a numerical ranking of the person’s character from -5 to +5 based on honesty, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, compassion and creditworthiness. Maltin says RepCheck developed a complex algorithm to calculate this score based on what others say and the credibility of those others. For instance, if Jim gives Amy low ratings while everyone else has given her high ratings, the system recognizes that Jim might have an ax to grind. Still, it would be easy to taint a person’s reputation. RepCheck also features verbatim comments added to users’ profiles by others who presumably know them, like “Andie is the sweetest person I know” or “Mark beats his wife and kids.” The comments may be libelous, but the company covers its butt with a very long disclaimer.

When I registered (it’s free) and searched for some acquaintances, the database didn’t contain any of the names I typed in. My editor had no luck either. So we decided to browse the profiles. We came upon Laura Schlessinger (a.k.a. Dr. Laura), Joey Fatone (of Nsync) and a certain Ralph Kramden, a bus driver from Brook-lyn, N.Y., who habitually threatens to send his wife Alice to the moon.

Matlin brushed this off as “unfortunate.” He explained that a visitor would only discover such fake identities by browsing, which he says is a temporary function. “Hopefully we can weed this stuff out. Some of the [profiles] that are blatant, as we find them, we’ll delete them over time,” he says.

He’d better. After all, his reputation is on the line too.