In a system that accepts a given search entity from a user and utilizes a database to identify a possible matching entity from a large list of entries, a method is provided for evaluating the reliability of the matching entity. Preferably, the method is carried out with minimal human intervention. A user inputs a plurality of attributes to identify a given entity, the system identifies a possible matching entity, and assigns a numerical grade to reflect the match quality of each attribute. Thereafter, the method assigns a grade to each attribute score, assembles the grades into a key, uses the key to address a memory, and retrieves a confidence code or quality indicator from the memory. The confidence codes are based on empirical information and reflect the overall quality of the match for the particular entity.