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 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 with an adverse media profile vary.

The primary use case for this report is for the KYC/AML process. Adverse media screening is critical to many organizations' customer due diligence process. 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 seriously threaten 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 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, so organizations often pair the adverse media report with the Watchlist Report.

Configuring the report

Continuous Monitoring

Just because a person is not a "bad actor" today does not mean that they cannot be a "bad actor" 2 months down the line. Because of this, it's critical for organizations to monitor individuals continuously and to make sure there is no negative news or unfavorable information on a given person.

Interval Seconds

Specify the cadence by which you would like this report to run on a recurring basis on any cadence between 24 hours and 365 days.

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.

Search configuration: High false-positive rates are a widespread 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 categories. 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

Adverse media screening solutions make it 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 refers to the person you are searching for or another person with the same 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 for is associated with unfavorable information.

In most cases, you can get just a single match back with the right search configuration setting. 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. The possible reasons for relevance are:

  • Matched the name exactly
  • Matched the name with a synonym
  • Matched an AKA name with a synonym
  • Matched birth year filter
  • Matched against an AKA name exactly
  • Matched for a complex reason, such as acronym
  • Matched closely to the name
  • Matched the name phonetically
  • Approximately matched search birth year
  • Personal suffixes removed from search input
  • Clerical marks removed from search input


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.


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


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


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 AML/CFT
  • Fraud-linked
  • General AML/CFT
  • Narcotics AML/CFT
  • Property Crime
  • Terrorism
  • Violence AML/CFT
  • Cybercrime
  • Financial Difficulty
  • Other Financial
  • Other Minor
  • Other Serious
  • Regulatory
  • Violence NON-AML/CFT


List of all countries where the adverse media was observed.

Associated Workflow criteria

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


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 category selection, Persona will search for this name (and year of birth) against a set of articles from those categories.


Persona is not a consumer reporting agency and the services (and the data provided as part of its services) do not constitute a ‘consumer report’ for the purposes of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The data and reports we provide to you may not be used, in whole or in part, to: make any consumer debt collection decision, establish a consumer’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, government benefits, or housing, or for any other purpose authorized under the FCRA. If you use any of any of our services, you agree not to use them, or the data, for any purpose authorized under the FCRA or in relation to taking an adverse action relating to a consumer application.