Asset Searches: Defined By Matter Type and Scope

(Contact Beacon Network Investigations)

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s tangible assets-  quite often, ordered by a guardian ad litem to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets when injuries exceed insurance policy limits, and just as often to determine financial stability of a prospective partner or employee, (the latter in a position of fiduciary trust).

 

A basic checklist for the legal professional is to:

1. Relay the need-to-know reason to your investigative specialist. A business partnership dissolution v. a medmal case requires a very different focus.

2. Obtain as much lead information from your client as possible. The more information the investigative specialist is given, quite often, the more she can return and, in a more cost-effective manner.

3. Local hard records are often more reliable than those compiled into generalized databases. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” database information. The drawbacks to commencing an asset search on a “dumping ground” database basis first, however, are

a) records update lag (delays up to 18 months),

b) incorrect data collection errors (many nationwide databases can return results only with exact names – misspellings will often register “no hit” status) and

c) incomplete information.

Another aspect of an asset search is a true analysis of the date factors. For e.g., a real estate asset search may return with a negative hit for current property ownership but check the sale dates of the subject’s latest residences.  All too often we’ve come across a recent home sale, leaving the subject with a large sum of money.  Always pay attention to timelines.

So now you, the attorney,  have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a CPW pied-a-terre, a home in the Kensington section of Great Neck and a boat docked at the Huguenot Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint should be to determine if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation, and from there, conduct a full criminal background check.

So how far is far enough with an asset search? Assess the potential settlement/judgment. For a large settlement/judgment, request a full background and asset search (certain convictions can prohibit a person from holding officer position in a business); medium settlement/judgment: basic background and asset search and for a small judgment: a basic asset search.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Favorite Tools Of The Professional P.I. – And Others Who Work For A Living

pi-tools

I’m often asked which tools simplify my life as a private investigator. The top three on my list are:

  1. Truthful witnesses
  2. Forthcoming clients
  3. PayPal for Business

Aside from that:

Evernote – I scan and save important documents and things I may want to refer to later when browsing the web.

Bitly – I share links on social media, in emails and when writing reports dozens of times daily. Bitly helps me shorten those long, ugly links. I also have a cool branded link for my business if that is interesting for you.

Zapier – This helps me automate tasks between web apps. So if I put a new client into QuickBooks, Zapier automatically adds their contact details into my client newsletter in MailChimp or WordPress. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Social Media and Content Marketing

Constant Contact – With Constant Contact, you can schedule, publish and analyze all your social media posts in one place.

Canva – I use Canva to create images for social media, blog posts and just about anything else. It can instantly turn you into an amateur graphic designer.

Feedly – Add your favorite blogs and websites to start filling up your feed with content that rocks.

Google Analytics – Easily track site traffic and visitor behavior to see how your content is performing.

File Sharing

Dropbox – Dropbox has become synonymous with online file sharing, and for a good reason.

Business

QuickBooks Online – We switched from QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online about four years ago, and have not looked back. It’s become better and better every year.

Google Docs – I use Google Apps for Work and Google Docs to collaborate with other investigators on documents. It’s the best collaborator that I have worked with for things like word processing documents and spreadsheets.

Microsoft Office 365 – Even though I am huge fan of Google Docs, I still use Microsoft Office to write reports. In part, because Google Docs does not have all of the advanced formatting options that Microsoft Word does.

Security

LastPass – With access to hundreds of databases and websites, it’s not easy keeping track of passwords. But LastPass stores difficult-to-crack, encrypted passwords in the cloud that can be used on multiple platforms.

Google Authenticator – I am a huge proponent of two-factor authentication, which protects your accounts with a second form of authentication by adding an extra layer of security to your account. Google Authenticator protects your account with both your password and your phone, by providing a “secret” code so that nobody can get in.

StrongVPN – A VPN secures your computer’s internet connection to guarantee that all of the data you’re sending and receiving is encrypted and secured from prying eyes. I have been using StrongVPN for several years without a glitch, primarily because it allows me to have a static IP, but there are a number of great services out there.

Website Hosting / WordPress Theme

Synthesis – I used a number of different web hosts for the first few years until I came across Synthesis. It’s probably not the cheapest service out there, but it’s reliable and fast, and the support is great.

StudioPress Themes for WordPress – If you like the way this website looks, then you need to have a WordPress site from StudioPress. These are the best WordPress themes out there.

Editing

ProofreadNOW.com – I can write like the wind, but I am no grammarian. I leave that up to ProofreadNOW.com. For a nominal fee, they will have professional proofreaders make sure that every blog post I write has every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.