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Altenburg, MO

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity
By: CJ Cassidy

Altenburg, MO -How would you feel if a background check on you showed a criminal history, when you don't have one?

An Altenburg woman says that's what happened to her, and now she's struggling to clear her name and reputation.

A spokesperson with the Georgia based company that made the mistake, says it happens on average to one out of every one hundred people.

Still that's scary, because the same company provides information on you and me, to employers, landlords, marketing companies and about 35 US government agencies.

In Marie Brown's case the mistake kept her from volunteering for a good cause.

"Everybody has to have a background check done on any of the volunteers, because they're going to be around kids," Brown says.

So she went through one so she could volunteer with her granddaughter's 4-H Club. When that check revealed a criminal record, she was stunned!

"Under Marie Brown with my birth date I have an address in Greenville, North Carolina in the Pitt Superior District Court a misdemeanor simple worthless check and guilty. And I thought god, these people don't do their work," Brown says.

Brown immediately called North Carolina authorities to verify no one stole her identity.

Turns out it was a case of mistaken identity.

The company that ran the check, ChoicePoint, did not use Brown's social security number, and ended up with someone else's information.

"This could have been a child molester this could have been anything," Brown says.

This isn't the first time ChoicePoint has had problems with personal information.

Last year the company admitted a group of organized criminals may have had access to personal records of more than 140,000 people.

So what do you do if this happens to you?

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle offers this advice:

"A private lawyer could look into filing a civil suit against the company listing you falsely and incorrectly as having a criminal record," Swingle says.

The ChoicePoint spokesperson tells me he regrets the problems Brown's faced.

He says ChoicePoint is obligated to reinvestigate any background check that's disputed within thirty days.

If you want to make sure the information the company has on you, if any, is correct click on the ChoicePoint link, and we'll show you how.

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