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Adverse media report

The adverse media report screens an individual across a global database of 300+ million news articles to identify any negative or unfavorable information associated with that individual.

Adverse media or "negative news" is defined as any kind of unfavorable information found across a wide variety of news sources — both "traditional" news outlets and those from unstructured sources. The risks associated with conducting business with persons having an adverse media profile are many and varied.

The main use case for this report is for the KYC/AML process. Adverse media screening is a critical part of the customer due diligence process for many organizations. Organizations rely on adverse media screening to know when their clients have been involved with unethical or criminal activities like money laundering, financial fraud, organized crime, etc. These links pose a serious threat to business reputations and can lead to legal repercussions, especially if these firms operate within a regulated sector.

Adverse media also serves as a leading indicator relative to the Watchlist Report. Often times there's a significant delay between when someone has been involved in doing something nefarious vs. when they show up on a Sanctions/Warnings list. The media is much faster at reporting on such activities, and therefore organizations often pair the adverse media report with the Watchlist Report.


Configuring the report

Organizations using this report type can specify the type of adverse media they would like to search for with their report. This is important because there is a LOT of media in the world — and to help make this report more effective, Persona allows organizations to filter through that media for specific, relevant information that they care about most.

Types of adverse media: Organizations can specify whether they would like to search against all adverse media types or only a select few (e.g. violent crime, terrorism, narcotics). By default, Persona includes all types.

Country codes: The country code filter will only return entities that are a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) or a PEP with adverse media, fitness and probity, and/or warnings with at least one country matching the country specified in the search. This will not filter the adverse media results to only be from certain countries.

Search configuration: High false-positive rates are a very common problem among screening providers for this report type. To address this, we have the ability to customize the search configuration. Furthermore, we can configure the search parameters to be different across different sets of lists. For example, John Smith can be searched against Sanctions lists with a 80% fuzziness and against PEP lists with equivalent names. Below is a list of search configuration options.

  • Exact match: We can specify the search to look for matches where the name matches 1-1 with what is on a list.
  • Equivalent names (includes everything in option 1): We can specify the search to look for equivalent names.
    • Hypocorisms (e.g. James <> Jim <> Jimmy)
    • Homophones (e.g. Kearns <> Cairns <> Kerns)
    • Abbreviations (e.g. Robert <> Rob)
    • Transliteration (e.g. Mohammed <> محمد)
    • AKAs (e.g. Alphonse Gabriel Capone, Al Capone)
  • Search fuzziness (includes everything in options 1 and 2): Fuzzy name searching is a technique of finding names that match a name approximately. We can specify a fuzziness ranging from 0 to 100% (in increments of 10%).

Interpreting the report

With adverse media screening solutions, it's easy to run into cases where you have many false positives. This is because when you search for a name and get a hit online in an article, you don't know if this article is referring to the person you are searching for or another person with the same exact name. As such, adverse media screening solutions do their best to do entity resolution and group together articles for which they have a high degree of confidence that they are referring to the same person.

As a result of this, in our adverse media screening solution, we return all the possible matches (dependent on your search configuration) sorted in order of relevance. This allows the end user to scroll through all the possible matches to determine whether or not the person they are searching actually is associated with unfavorable information.

In most cases, with the right search configuration setting, you can get just a single match back. However, for organizations that would like to widen their search radius, they can configure their search setting to have a higher level of fuzziness and therefore surface more matches. Please see below for how to interpret each field that is returned in the adverse media report.


Explains the relevance of the match. The results in the adverse media report are sorted based on relevance. There are four possible results returned for relevance:

  • Matched the name exactly
  • Matched the name with a synonym
  • Matched an AKA name with a synonym
  • Matched birth year filter


The birthdates associated with an individual. If an individual has an undetermined birthday or they have used multiple birthdays, we will surface all possible birthdates.

Adverse media types

We categorize the types of unfavorable media associated with an individual with the below types. Based on the types of unfavorable media associated with an individual, we will surface the corresponding types.

  • Financial crime
  • Violent crime
  • Sexual crime
  • Terrorism
  • Fraud
  • Narcotics
  • General


Alternate names that the individual can also be known as. Our vendor collects this information from various sources they have regarding this individual. These tend to be slight variations in spellings and also the name in different languages based on how the news articles reference this person.

Associated Workflow criteria

You may want to either mark inquiries for review or decline inquiries automatically that have an adverse media hit. In order to do this successfully, you will need to build a workflow. Please contact for help building your workflows and see below for a list of supported conditions:

  • Types of adverse media
    • Financial crime
    • Violent crime
    • Sexual crime
    • Terrorism
    • Fraud
    • Narcotics
    • General (for adverse media that cannot be categorized)


How often are the media databases updated?

The adverse media database is updated within 48 hours of the information being published on the referred website

How does it work?

Organizations pass in a name and can optionally pass in a year of birth. Based on the search configuration and list selection, Persona will search for this name (and year of birth) against the data of lists specified.

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