Name matching, while it looks pretty straightforward, is one of the more complex tasks we do at Trestle. As an identity data company, it is one of our core competencies that is used. It’s not only for name matching in Real Contact API, but also for internal purposes to match names when we receive data from multiple providers, and we have to merge them together.
Typically in name matching, the following steps are involved:
- Name Normalization: This includes capital casing, hyphens, Irish apostrophes (e.g., Michelle O’Flanagan), prefixes and suffixes, etc. We get them normalized to ensure we have the right names for matching.
- Name Parsing: A single name can be both a first name or last name (e.g., Brady), and a single letter can be for a middle initial or a last name initial, etc. This gets even trickier when the names are longer (e.g., Maria de los Angeles Martinez or Erich van der Stroheim). So, accurately identifying the first, middle, and last names are critical for any further name matching and avoiding false positives.
- Nicknames and Phonetic Names: An example of this is: Bill and William are in many cases the same person; it’s just that Bill is the nickname for William. Related to that is phonetic name matching, like Emily and Emile. This scenario might be about fat-fingering or name pronunciation not being captured correctly.
- Name Matching: Is John Smith the same as Smith John? How about John S and John Smith? They might or might not be the same person, right? To provide more context, we have 13 different types of matches we do to decide whether the two names match.
- Name Match Ranking: We have the best match if there are multiple names associated with a phone or address.
Hopefully, this gives a sense of all the nuances involved to ensure we are matching the right names and avoiding false positives.
Finally, this is a continuous journey, and we work to improve this every day. It is at the core of what we do – from data merging and ingestion to name matching in our various products. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.