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Is My DMV Record Public? How About My Voting History?? Public Records Checklist.

public-info

With the ease of information gathering these days, we are finding that many people are worried about their relevant data availability to the general public.  Many information brokering sites aggregate personal information from public records and it’s important to realize that most information is gathered through voluntary release from the individual (e.g., your date of birth from a subscription). Below we provide a checklist of common information that is public and that which requires additional permissions.

Personal public records may include some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address.
  • Birth date/age
  • Names and contact information of family members
  • Names and contact information of neighbors
  • Political party affiliation
  • Past arrests, (and current) warrants and wants
  • Businesses or websites owned
  • Listed telephone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Recorded real property records (developed/undeveloped)
  • Recorded motor vehicle records (vehicles, aircraft, boats registration)*
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • Credit header (includes name, dob and address, possibly employment)
  • Litigation history
*Check your state for publicly available vehicle registration and ownership records release. 

Personal information that requires additional permissions:

  • Bank records (require a judgment in hand before processing)
  • Medical records (require signed HIPAA releases from the individual)
    • Doctor’s records
    • Hospital records (including ambulance call sheets)
    • Urgent care facilities
    • Dental records
    • Drug and alcohol treatment centers
  • Credit score and history (require individual’s signed authorization for release)
  • Social Security Number (requires release by the individual)
  • Marriage and divorce records (require authorization from one of the parties involved)
  • Birth certificates (require the party’s authorization)
  • DMV driver’s history (requires the driver’s authorization)

Business/Government Public Records

Business and government public records generally come from information recorded within the business or agency itself. They are often more statistical in nature.

Some information that may be available on a business or government public record include:

  • Revenue
  • Number of employees
  • Fictitious business names
  • Collection items
  • Business credit score
  • Payment history
  • Business ownership

Just a point of information with our presidential election drawing near; currently, only your party affiliation is a public record.  Several states, including Florida and California, however, are fighting legal battles to have these public records include your choice in each election in which you voted.  Aside from marketing purposes by the major parties (and many of those practices are questionable), I see no real necessary purpose for these very personal records to become public fodder.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

 

 

Pros and Cons of Conducting A Pre-Employment Social Media Background Check

social-media-bgc

It is safe to assume that a review of a prospective employee’s social media content will be conducted as part of the new hiring norm as it relates to pre-employment background checks.

It’s also true that, often now, corporate counsel is advising HR managers to be careful with the information they glean from these social media site checks with regard to the manner in which it is used.   Using negative content to reject the candidate may backfire if it appears to be, for example,  racist or misogynistic in nature.  Conversely, one of the first things under the investigation microscope in a workplace violence case is the thoroughness of the background check of the alleged victimizer, to include social media content review.

From my collegaues at “the Background Investigator“:  Research from the Society For Human Resource Management, (SHRM) revealed that 76 percent of employers that don’t use social media when conducting background checks said they avoid this practice mostly because of the legal concerns.
Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris LLP in the employment, labor, benefits and immigration practice group, said that while there are risks in checking out social media when screening candidates, there are also risks in not looking at it.
“Sometimes, lawyers think [businesses] are taking a risk [by looking at social media], but they could be taking a bigger risk [by not looking], because then they hire the person that is dangerous or unproductive,” Segal said.

In May, the FTC gave a company called Social Intelligence the green light to run background checks of your  Internet and social media history. The Federal Trade Commission now allows companies to run social media background checks and to compile your information. Companies such as Social Intelligence. 

Contrary to initial reports, Social Intelligence doesn’t store seven years worth of your social data. Rather it looks at up to seven years of your history, and stores nothing.

It screens for aggressive or violent acts or assertions, unlawful activity, discriminatory activity (for example, making racist statements), and sexually explicit activity. And it doesn’t pass on identifiable photos of you at all. In other words, your drunken kegs stand photos are probably fine as long as you’re not wearing a T-shirt with a swastika or naked from the waist down.

Basically, it just wants to know if you’re the kind of misfit who will cause legal hassles for an employer.

If you do review social media in your employment process, make sure you preserve the items that you considered in your research.  (Don’t assume that the content you considered will remain available.  Many people remove objectionable material from their online profiles once they realize that it could reflect poorly during their employment search or simply, the content can drop off the site during updates.)

We advise all of our clients – when considering a prospective new hire – to have the candidate sign an attestation that all of the information that they have provided is accurate and true to the best of their knowledge and evidence of falsifying any information will be grounds for dismissal.   Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have him sign off on permission to review his social media content.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

 

Not Liking Your Online Profile? Clean It Up & Track Yourself.

online-profile

Cleaning up your online profile―and creating the one you want―is becoming easier for the layperson as we understand how information flows and accumulates on the internet.

First, find out about yourself.

Facts:

1. 85% of search-engine users do not venture beyond the first page when researching someone.

2. Nearly 90% of recruiters conduct some sort of online investigation into recruits, and of these,

3. Almost 45% dropped someone from consideration based on information they found online.

Solutions:

1. Enter your name in the search bar of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, three of the most widely used search engines.

2. If you have a common name, like Susan Smith, do a few different searches, adding your current or past employers or your hometown to your name.

3. Search images as well for any potentially embarrassing sorority pillow fight pics.

If nothing appears about you, that’s great if privacy is your only concern. But if you want to create a good impression for clients, employers, or potential new acquaintances, it helps if results return with positive entries (a blurb about a promotion,  civic association membership announcement, a listing of volunteers at a charity events, etc.)  and these results will be at or near the top of page one if you have few other online notices.

If you see negative results (an embarrassing photo on a friend’s website, an inglorious, angry rant on FB or a really odd purchase you made), chances are others, including prospective employers, will see them, too.  The beer keg handstand that was funny back in the day isn’t so amusing to an HR manager considering you for a company position who may believe it depicts poor judgment.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been brought on to research and then polish up someone’s online profile (or, increasingly, from parents of intern or college-age children).   You can remove the items yourself, ask your friend on whose timeline these goofy pics show up to take them down, push down these unwanted results until they appear way further down in the Google search engine return by running a strong paid social media campaign or pay professional reputation companies or investigation firms that perform this task. But from your desk, at the very least, please keep an eye on your internet self by:

Setting up alerts. To get an e-mail when your name is mentioned in news stories, blogs, or videos, go to google.com/alerts and enter your name, your e-mail address, and how often you would like to receive updates (daily, weekly, as they happen). Again, if you have a common name, add your company, hometown, profession, or job title. This service won’t alert you to everything (Facebook entries, for example), but it will help you keep track of new information that might come up on search engines.

For a service that tracks your mentions on major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, try the aptly-named Mention. The platform can also alert you whenever someone includes your keyword in a post.

The most important advice we can give people is: do not post anything that you yourself cannot wholly control, including the ability to retract the post entirely from the internet.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

 

Top 5 Spy Tools for Fall 2016, Including an Unshredder!

unshredder

1. Unshredder

Just because you’ve spent an hour shredding important documents doesn’t mean that those shredded pieces of paper can’t be put back together again. Unshredder, dubbed the first commercial document reconstruction tool in the world, is a computer program capable of reconstructing documents that have been strip-shred and cross-shred, and documents with torn pages. Instead of aligning each little shredded piece by hand, this Windows-based application automates the reassembly of documents through four simple steps: collate, segmentation, reconstruction, and report. The finished results can then be printed, e-mailed, or copied. Used by government agencies, police departments, lawyers, private investigators, and security agents, Unshredder is available with a monthly license for $90 or a yearly license starting at $950.

2. Motokata Bionic Ear Hearing Amplifier

Wish you could hear the conversation between your boss and the CEO? The Motokata Bionic Ear-Hearing Amplifier uses sound-magnification technology that lets you hear any conversation clearly and distinctly up to 20 feet away. Weighing around an ounce, it amplifies sounds up to 50 decibels and can be easily attached to your shirt pocket or belt. Attach the amplifier to the included stereo earphones to hear spoken words and control the volume. Approx. $49.95.

3. Jakks Pacific EyeClops Night Vision

For the nocturnal spy, Jakks Pacific’s EyeClops Night Vision goggles ($79.99) will let you see objects in total darkness. Gearlog’s Brian Bennett tested the device in a dark room, and he was able to see people and objects pretty clearly. A knob on the right side activates an LED light, letting you see further into the dark. If the green-colored night vision starts giving you a headache, there’s even a switch on the bottom of the right eye piece that toggles your view from green to black and white.
4. Computer Mouse Transmitter
Be careful what you say around this computer mouse. The Computer Mouse Transmitterhouses an ultra-mini microphone and transmitter circuit, which can pick up sounds from up to approximately 32 feet away. For the rich spy, this sneaky mouse sells for upwards of $1,200.o0.
5. Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera
How many times have you been driving on the road, only to witness someone running a red light or pulling right out in front of you? Catch bad drivers red-handed with the Vehicle Safeguard Video Recording Camera ($49.95). Attach the cradle to your vehicle’s dashboard and place the recording unit inside the cradle. Set the recording angle in any direction you’d like, and insert an SD card up to 2GB of capacity to store the recordings. The camera measures 18.25 by 6.12 by 2.25 inches, weighs one pound, and operates on four AAA batteries.
Well, summer is almost over so it’s time to get serious about our spy tools again! (Just make sure you are familira with local governing laws and then, have at it!
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.
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