There are many companies with the same name, and many more people. How do you know you're looking at the right one?
It is essential that you take the time to carefully disambiguate every entity you investigate. The strongest disambiguations will use a unique identifier (e.g. national ID numbers, company name in China) or combinations of identifiers (e.g. full name + date of birth + citizenship).
Examples of unique identifiers*:
- Company names and Uniform Social Credit Numbers in China
- National ID Numbers for companies and individuals in Iran
- RFCs for companies and individuals in Mexico
- CURPs for individuals in Mexico
- Tax ID Numers (INN) for companies and individuals in Russia
Examples of identifiers that are not unique and should not be used as the sole basis of disambiguation:
- Company registration numbers in Iran
- Reason for Registration Code (KPP) in Russia
- Electronic Business Folio Number (FME) in Mexico
* remember that even unique identifiers sometimes are recycled after a company's closure or person's death.
More complex disambiguations are required when identifiers are scarce. In these cases, it is helpful to think about the following:
- Corporate structures. For companies, does the corporate suffix match the entity you are looking for?
- Co-occurrence in relationships. For example, if ten companies all have five shareholders with the same names, it is more likely that those are the same five individuals.
- Business activities or industries of operation. Is an individual with the same name on two companies in Ukraine that both conduct business in the extraction of metal ores? If so, it is more likely that those two individuals are the same person.
- The commonness or uniqueness of names in a specific context or jurisdiction. For example, in Lebanon, you can use voter rolls to determine exactly how many individuals by a certain name are citizens and lend more confidence to your assessments.
If there is any doubt about a disambiguation, it is best to consider those entities as separate but possibly linked.