When applying for a job, many applicants provide a wrong date of birth to avoid some consequences like age discrimination.
Indeed, in human resources and recruitment departments, the applicant’s age, and by extension, their date of birth, has long been a source of controversy. However, that’s because many employers tend to discriminate based on age by choosing younger applicants.
But since the advent of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, many employers have stopped asking for dates of birth altogether to avoid problems. Still, you could be asked for that date for background checks.
And that’s where the other, less common problem with dates of birth happens: when applicants lie about them. This effectively changes the outcome of the background checks that prospective employers may conduct.
The question here is, can you even do this? And if you can, is it legal? And will it get you off the background check hook?
The Short Answer
Background check companies or other screeners use your full name and date of birth to discover your criminal, commercial, and financial records. Therefore, some people started lying about their date of birth to hide their criminal past.
However, this won’t work. When you provide a wrong date of birth, three main outcomes can follow, depending on the database:
- They don’t find information: This often happens if you have a common name or the database requires a correct date of birth.
- They find another person’s records: If someone shares your name and the (presumably) made-up date you provide, the recruiters can find their file.
- They find you anyway: In many databases, when the searcher enters a name, they get a list of all the matches and their info.
Whatever the outcome is, your recruiters might reject you or ask you to provide the correct date.
Can a Potential Employer Ask For My Date of Birth?
Some people believe that the aforementioned Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects job applicants from discrimination by prohibiting prospective employers from asking about age or other information that can point to it, such as date of birth or graduation.
But in reality, most recruiters will ask for it because they need this information for their background checks, which can show employers things like your criminal history and financial records.
When possible, many of those who conduct background checks omit the date of birth or age from the file they send to the interviewers, so there’s no way the interviewer can ask you questions about your age.
Why Your Date of Birth Is Important to Background Checks
Many people don’t know this, but the primary points when conducting a background check are the full name and date of birth.
And it makes sense when you think about it. Recruiters can’t rely solely on a person’s name when conducting a background check because name similarities happen. And depending on how common your name is, there could be thousands of people with the same name.
But why the date of birth, we hear you ask? After all, dates of birth aren’t unique either. And while it’s unlikely, two people with the same name could also share the same date of birth.
Why Not Use Social Security Numbers?
Your social security number is a unique and private identifier, unlike your date of birth. So why don’t companies or prospective employers use your SSN instead of your birth date when conducting background checks?
The simple answer is that everyone’s SSN is unique and private. Therefore, only you know what your SSN is.
But even if social security numbers weren’t private, you still shouldn’t give them out easily since you’ll risk someone stealing your identity.
Of course, a fraudster can also use other information like date of birth and address in identity theft, but it’s significantly milder than if they had your SSN.
Can I Legally Change My Date of Birth?
While you can change most of your basic info, like your name, you can’t change your date of birth. It’s a strict definition of the day you were born; if you try to change it on official papers, it’s often a criminal offense.
Correcting a Wrong Date of Birth
The only way to legally change your date of birth is if you can prove to the courts that your current official date is wrong. And you’ll probably need a lawyer to help you sort the evidence and submit an affidavit with this.
But until that change happens, you should keep writing your official date of birth on legal documents and other paperwork. Otherwise, you can get in trouble for fraud.
What Happens if I Apply With a Different Date of Birth?
Let’s say you’re using a different date of birth. Perhaps you’ve submitted evidence to change it officially, and it hasn’t passed yet, or maybe you’ve made a mistake or, even worse, are trying to bypass some applicant screening process.
The most likely outcome is that your recruiters won’t find any information about you. But if the date of birth you provided somehow matches someone else who shares your name, they might come across their records.
But even then, it’ll be easy to confirm that these records don’t belong to you since they might have your other details such as address or SSN, then they can cross match it with the results when they search for your name.
In these cases, the recruiters or screeners will know something’s wrong and either get back to you asking for the correct date or conclude that you’re trying to hide something and disqualify you altogether.
Recruiters Can Still Find You Without Your Date of Birth
Another reason why you shouldn’t try to use a different date of birth when applying for a job is because it’s always going to be a futile effort.
Your name is the most essential piece of info about you. And while your date of birth is very important and can pinpoint to your exact records, you can still pop up on database searches in other ways, depending on the database.
For example, if the recruiters or screening company search for your name only, they could get a list of all people with that name with their socials, addresses, and possibly other information.
They could then cross reference this information with what they have on you to get your exact file or court records.
Additionally, if the recruiters can prove that you were intentionally trying to mislead them, they can even push to add another record to your file by suing you. After all, providing false information on a legal document or paper, such as a job application, is considered perjury.
But they probably won’t bother with you unless they take offense to what you did. Instead, they’ll discard your application.
There’s no easy way out of background checks. Most criminal records will automatically disqualify you from most jobs. And depending on the severity of your criminal history, it could limit you to menial or laborious work in extreme cases.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to circumvent this, even if you’re the most down-to-earth person. It simply has to be this way because those with a violent criminal history are seen as a potential threat.
In any case, you should never try to lie on legal papers. You can still work up the ladder, but you’ll have to be honest about your job applications.