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posted: 8/19/2016 1:00 AM

Itasca’s Accurate Biometrics seeks to expand fingerprinting services

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  • Peggy Critchfield is president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.

    Peggy Critchfield is president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Peggy Critchfield is president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.

    Peggy Critchfield is president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Peggy is president and her husband, Jim Critchfield, is executive vice president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.

    Peggy is president and her husband, Jim Critchfield, is executive vice president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Peggy is president and her husband, Jim Critchfield, is executive vice president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca. The chief operating officer is Timothy Daniels, top right.

    Peggy is president and her husband, Jim Critchfield, is executive vice president of Accurate Biometrics in Itasca. The chief operating officer is Timothy Daniels, top right.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Accurate Biometrics uses the Integrated Biometrics Kojak and Watson Mini as fingerprint readers.

    Accurate Biometrics uses the Integrated Biometrics Kojak and Watson Mini as fingerprint readers.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The older and larger fingerprint readers, such as the Cross Match ID 1000 and the Cross Match ID 500, have been replace with the much smaller and lighter newer readers, such as the Integrated Biometrics Kojak and Watson Mini fingerprint readers.

    The older and larger fingerprint readers, such as the Cross Match ID 1000 and the Cross Match ID 500, have been replace with the much smaller and lighter newer readers, such as the Integrated Biometrics Kojak and Watson Mini fingerprint readers.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Itasca-based Accurate Biometrics, which serves clients nationwide, is aiming to develop a national collection network that acts as a warehouse for all the fingerprints it collects.

That would allow for data from those fingerprints to be available more quickly and efficiently.

"We're working to get the programming in place and it will completely change the way we do business," said owner and President Peggy Critchfield, 60.

Accurate Biometrics is a state certified woman-owned small business since 2000 and provides fingerprint-based background checks and other identity verification services to clients, including companies and government agencies. The company has so far collected more than 1 million sets of fingerprints for about 1,400 organizations. The national collection network would likely help serve more clients faster, especially as workers go from job to job and need to have their identify verified.

Critchfield, along with her husband, Jim Critchfield, lead a staff of 40 other workers who collect fingerprints in 40 offices, including in Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Lake in the Hills and elsewhere. Critchfield said she also may open a new office in Tampa, Florida, next year.

Technology is key.

"Technology is the backbone of our business," Critchfield said. "We've had three major upgrades as technology has changed. It's just like cellphones when they changed to voice-over internet protocol."

Fingerprinting devices have changed from 25-pound bulky scanners to smaller and sleeker 2 1/2-inch devices, she said.

"It makes us more competitive," she said.

Critchfield attends an array of seminars and conferences to keep up to date. She also attends government and FBI meetings to stay abreast of new legislation involving security and privacy issues.

She explains that she has an eclectic mix of clients that deal with children and need to take precautions on who they hire. Such clients include the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Board of Education, the Chicago Park District, the Illinois Department of Public Health and others.

Other industries, such as banking and finance, medical and weapons, also seek employees with appropriate backgrounds and security checks.

These agencies use fingerprints to help check on the backgrounds of potential new employees and whether they have criminal records.

Companies also want to know if a person is really who they say they are. Fingerprinting is just one of the tools to check on identities, she said.

And with the expansion of controversial businesses, such as medical marijuana and video gaming, fingerprinting also is being widely done, she said.

Accurate Biometrics also sends, or channels, certain sets of finger prints to government agencies, including the FBI.

The FBI said it has about a dozen approved channelers, or companies contracted as vendors, that provide fingerprints and information, said Stephen G. Fischer Jr., chief of multimedia production at the FBI.

"Channelers play an important role in providing noncriminal justice background check services," Fischer said.

The FBI has been a client of Accurate Biometrics since 2006.

While Accurate Biometrics is a B-to-B company, Critchfield is considering a new division that caters directly to consumers. It would allow individuals to fully check on themselves and possibly use the service to help expunge their records of certain information, if needed.

"We are hoping to develop our own end-to-end fingerprinting solutions," she said.