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Basics Of An Employment Background Check

background check

The professional investigator should conduct an employment background check from an experience-based template, outlining his/her methodology.  Aside from the consistency of results, wire-framing the investigation will ensure that the basics of a background check are researched and, serves as a solid springboard once the information pipeline begins to flow.  Starting with the very first step – in all cases – from an entry level employee to a potential new partner, all references and work history should be verified.

Below we will outline the various type of background checks and the situations wherein which they should be conducted.

 

New Hire (Non-Management Level, excepting positions involving access to client and or other financial information:

The most relevant and important features of a comprehensive background check are the:

1. Address, SSN and DOB verification.

2. Criminal history  (This level hire will not include criminal charges – only convictions.)

3. E-Verification clearance ensuring that the potential new hire is in fact legally allowed to work in the U.S.

4. Driving record, if relevant.

New-Hire (Management, fiduciary trust or client financials access and C positions):

A more comprehensive search than a basic new hire background check, those conducted for potential management, C positions and employees with access to client financial information should include the above and:

1. A full credit check.

2. Assets search.

3. An in-depth criminal records review.

New Partner:

In taking on a new partner, including all of the above searches, the following investigations should also occur:

1. Full litigation history.

2. Previous positions and conditions of departure verifications.

3. Professional license search (to ensure licensure validity and uncover professional sanctions, if any).

4. Full criminal check to include researching the backgrounds of the new partner’s former associates.

5. Develop the subject’s public and private profile.  (There are many methods employed by professional detectives that will allow the investigator to acquire the comprehensive information necessary to develop a 360 degree assessment of the subject.)  This is a critical part of  checking the background of a potential partner.  In today’s information age, no one can control all visible aspects of one’s life and there will be the inevitable professional and personal disclosures online.  While no single posting (unless of course it’s of a truly damaging event), will reveal the subject’s true character,  subsequent to assessing the all of the tangible search results, a pattern should become obvious to the investigator which will allow for an accurate analysis of the subject’s behavior.  The past portends the future.

The above recommendations for employment consideration are, as the title states, the basics of a new hire/partner background check.  Each industry – from transportation to healthcare – has in place employment policies specific to the field. By way of example, businesses involved in financial transactions – wherein the personal identifier information of a client may expose her to identity theft –  may have to impose an extra layer of records protection to ensure that this information is not accessed or used in a fraudulent manner.   (See the FTC Red Flag Laws.)

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

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Working Around Invisible or Partially Available Social Media Profiles

As part of our due diligence during a subject’s comprehensive background check, we generally begin with a review of social media.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are primary and initial stops in the identification verification aspect of a background check. (For the purpose of this week’s article, we will concentrate on business connection site, LinkedIn.)
Searching for your subject through Linkedin may return an invisible profile if you’re not in your subject’s connections network. Your Linkedin network consists of your 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections and your group members. The more connections, the more full profiles available to you. You can also see attachments such as resumes.

Once you have your subject’s Linkedin profile, Google the name or search for it through bing.com to get the profile URL.

Linkedin Profile at Bing

Paste that URL into a private viewing web browser.

Private Linkedin Profile

This result is what we want to view and download.

See Resume

If the Linkedin resume is stored at their slideshare.net account, you can find it via a quick Google search- while in an incognito browser session:

Slideshare Resume Search

Select the top entry link and you will be taken to the full resume.  Download.

Slideshare resume download

Mission accomplished! The above method is a viable workaround to the limitations placed on profile sharing by social media.  Where there’s a will…

BNI Operatives; Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Anatomy of a Background Check; Information In An Initial Sweep.

background-check-2

With a fairly healthy dose of humor and an equal measure of alarm, I’ve listened, read, heard,  have been Tweeted, Facebooked and Tumblred to by representatives on all sides of the “gun control” (the gun has control – it is immobile and its product possesses kinetic energy only when put in motion) issue.  Almost all parties agree that an enhanced background check should be required for persons wishing to purchase firearms. That’s a throwaway sentiment.   How many people, besides those that have already been through a gun purchase background check, actually understand the process and the information contained in such a search?

We conduct background searches daily; the majority are on domestic subjects, and we also provide international services.  Our clients request background searches for a multitude of reasons ranging from pre-employment prerequisites, (I’ll get into the government-mandated employment eligibility program, EVerify, in another article. Althoug,h if you search the archives, I’ve already posted several on the matter.), to hiring a nanny to personal  financial stability of potential business partners. (We do not conduct background checks for purposes of investigating a potential personal partner, locating mistresses or suitability of a date.)

To follow is the bare bones information contained within a comprehensive check (the minimum required to possess a firearm, aside from the NCIC fingerprint and DNA checks):

COMPREHENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECK

DOE, ARMANDO J.

Subject Information:

Name: ARMANDO J. DOE

DOB: 5/20/1979

Age: 33

SSN: 123-45-6789 issued in New York between 5/20/1979 and 12/31/1979

Names Associated With Subject:

ARMAN DOE

ARMAND J. DOE

J. ARMANDO DOE

ARMAND JOHN DOE

A.J. DOE

Others Associated With Subjects SSN:

(DOES NOT indicate any type of fraud or deception)

THOMAS ROBERTSON DOB: 4/9/1967

================================================================

Address History:

135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742                      (Jan 2011 – Dec 2012)

14-01 121st , COLLEGE POINT, NY 11356-3765                                          (Aug 2010 – Jan 2011)

P.O. BOX 5106, COLLEGE POINT, NY 11356-5106                                      (June 2007 – Dec 2012)

149-21 71ST ST, COLLEGE POINT, NY 11563-9823                                    (Feb 2003 – Nov 2008)

7 SUMMIT STREET, MALBA, NY , 11357-3476                                            (June 1990 – Mar 2006)

Information on Affiliated Addresses:

135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742                      (Jan 2011 – Dec 2012)

Name Associated with Address:

ARMANDO J. DOE

Current Residents at Address:

ARMANDO J. DOE

DINA C. DOE

SARA DOE

718-555-1234   ARMANDO DOE

Property Ownership Information for this Address

Property:

Parcel Number – 50-40-21-09-1001

Book – 4761

Page – 1243

Owner Name:  SMITH, HERMAN

Owner Name 2: SMITH, ANNA LIA

Property Address: – 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742

Owner Address: 13247 SW 43RD ST,  PLANTATION,  FL 33309-2742

Sale Date – 02/03/2011

Sale Price – $320,000

Land Usage – MUTLI RES

Total Market Value – $438,850

Assessed Value – $438,850

Land Value – $100,950

Improvement Value – $118,010

Land Size – 16,789 Square Feet

Year Built – 2000

Seller Name: RIVINGTON, IAN & JANICE

Legal Description –  182-2400 B LOT 270

135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742                      (Jan 2011 – Dec 2012)

Possible Properties Owned by Subject: 

Property: None found.

(THE REPORT CONTINUES LISTING ALL OF THE ABOVE INFORMATION – owner, owner address, sale date… – FOR EVERY ADDRESS ON RECORD FOR THE SUBJECT.)

Emails Associated W Subject:

AJDOE520@FLASH.NET

ARMANDOJD520@GMAIL.COM

ARMANDOJD05@HOTMAIL.COM

Phones Associated W Subject:

Name: ARMANDO DOE

Address: SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420

Phone Number:  718-555-1234

Phone Type:  Landline

Carrier:  Verizon

Name: DINA C. DOE

Address: 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742

Phone Number:  347-555-9518

Phone Type:  Mobile

Carrier:  VERIZON WIRELESS

Criminal Record Profile:

 National Criminal Record Search (Felonies & Major Misdemeanors):

       New York Arrest Report:

              Name: DOE, ARMANDO J.

              SSN: 123-45-6789

              Address: 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 

              State of Origin: New York

              County of Origin: Queens

              Case Type Description: Queens County(NY)Arrest

              Arrests: 

Arrest #1

Arrest Date: 09/21/2010

Arresting Agency:  109, NYPD

Arrest Disposition Date:06/29/2012

Court Fine:          Offense: INTENT DIST/2Nd

Agency Case #:2011-675835G

Arrest Level/Degree: FELONY

Arrest Disposition: BOOKED


(The arrest will undoubtedly carry several charges.  Possession, attempt to distribute, resisting arrest, etc.  Each arrest charge will be separately defined – from charge to disposition.)

       New York Department of Corrections:

              Name: ARMANDO J. DOE

              SSN: 123-45-6789

              State of Origin: NY

              Inmate Number: 137869

              DOB: 05/20/1979

              Race: WHITE

              Sex: Male

              Eyes: GREEN

              Height: 6′ 00″

              Weight: 205

              Case Number: 0529234

              Case Type Description: Department Of Correction, NY

              Latest Admission Date: 09/21/2010    

State Criminal Record Search (Felonies & Major Misdemeanors):

(Repeats the Nationwide Search and may include ACDs – Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. In an ACD situation, the offender is on a conditional probation period of anywhere from six months to several years, depending on his/her criminal history.  If the person re-offends for any reason during this adjournment period, s/he can be re-arrested.  The follow up information will include every possible detail from co-defendant(s), arresting officers to court transciptionists to defense counsel/prosecutors to the presiding judges and every motion made on the case.  Per the number of arrests, this portion of a background check can run anywhere from several dozen to several hundred pages.)

Driver’s License Information: 

(Current)

Name:           ARMANDO J. DOE

State: New York

License Address: 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742

DOB: 05/20/1979

SSN : 123-45-6789

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: WHITE

Expiration Date: 05/20/2016

Issue Date: 03/13/2006

License Type: RENEWAL

License Class: Non-Commercial – Class D

Height: 6’00

Data Source: Governmental

(Previous)

Motor Vehicles Registered To Subject:

Vehicle:

Description: Blue 2001 Nissan Sentra – 4dr Sedan

VIN: 5NING01C8ST000001
Engine: 4 Cylinder 152 Cubic Inch — Gas Powered               State Of Origin: Pennsylvania

Anti Lock Brakes: 4 wheel standard

Air Conditioning: Standard

Daytime Running Lights: Standard

Power Steering: Standard

Power Brakes: Standard

Power Windows: Standard

Security System:  Standard Alarm

Roof: Standard

Price: 16750

Radio: AM/FM CD

Front Wheel Drive: No

Four Wheel Drive: No

Tilt Wheel: Standard

Registrant(s)

Record Type: CURRENT

Name: ARMANDO J. DOE

Address: 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742

DOB: 5/20/1979

Sex: Male

Age: 33

Tag Number: CFD9524

License State: NY

Earliest Registration Date: 6/12/2012

Latest Registration Date: 6/12/2012

Expiration Date: 6/11/2013

License Plate Type: Private

Title Number: 0219856887

Title Issue Date: 6/12/2012

Lien Holder(s)

Company Name: CHASE MANH

Address: 150 PARK PLACE, 23RD FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019

 (Report includes every vehicle ever owned or registered by the subject and all associated tags.)

Concealed Weapons Permit:  (This will include target permits.)

[None Found]

Possible or Previous Work Affiliations:

Name: ARMANDO J. DOE

Title: Manager

SSN: 123-45-6789

Company: ABCDE, LLC.

Address: 158-09 Northern Boulevard, Little Neck, NY  11363-4857

Dates: Dec 21, 2005

Corporate Affiliations:

[None Found]

Professional License(s): 

[None Found]

 FAA Certifications: 

[None Found]

FAA Aircrafts: 

[None Found]

Watercraft: 

[None Found]

Voter Registration:  

Name: ARMANDO J. DOE

Address: 135-23 122nd  ST, SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY 11420-2742

DOB: 5/20/1979

Gender: Male

Ethnicity: White

Political Party: UNDECLARED

State of Registration: New York

Status: ACTIVE

Hunting/Fishing Permit: 

[None Found]

Bankruptcies:

[None Found]

 Liens and Judgments:

[None Found]

UCC Filings: 

[None Found]

Possible Associates:  (Business)

Possible Relative Summary: 

>Immediate Relatives
>> 2nd Degree Relatives & AKAs on Immediate Relatives
>>> 3rd Degree Relatives & AKAs on 2nd Degree Relatives

(This section begins at the grandparents and continues through prior-divorce or death in-laws. Each item contains the person’s name, DOB, DOD, last known address/phone number and their 1st through 3rd degree relatives.  Then we run the subject through EVerify – subject matter for an upcoming article.)

END OF COMPREHENSIVE BACKGROUND CHECK REPORT. 

The above described background report is compiled from many diverse sources including, but not limited to,  governmental (federal, state and local) agencies (SSA, DMVs, DHS…),  consumer credit reporting companies and other reporting affiliates that may be indirectly or second/third-party affiliated to the subject (e.g., guarantor).  This is a low to average security level background check. There is additional research that occurs but the above sample report is representative of a first sweep on a background investigation.

Now we at least have a jumping off point to begin discussing enhanced background checks.  Debate away.

There is more to the above subject profiled than meets the eye.  All of the identifiers have been changed but this is a real background check – minus multiple pages of repetitive and unrelatable information.  Armando’s grandmother’s ex-and now dead- husband won’t make a difference. My point is that a comprehensive background check follows through very carefully and leaves enough markers for the reviewing investigator to pick up on if s/he decides there is reason to dig deeper.  I have trust that the security background search systems in place actually do work and have and will evolve as we meet new technological challenges for those wishing to circumvent their disqualifying past as it relates to gun purchases and in general.

Our operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay. safe.

Who Am I Dealing With?? Watching Your Back(ground) Checks.

Lately, we are requested quite often to research the backgrounds of prospective employees, personal and business partners and corporate entities.

With our now internet-enabled reach (not just to locate web-based information but to network with other investigative specialists), we are able to access nationwide data as to the personal, work and credit backgrounds of potential new hires.  We have gained the ability to likewise perform these background search services on a global basis for those seeking new business alliances, products and services.   Today, given the mobility and globalization of people and companies, often the backgrounds of the those with whom we might form potential partnerships are, at best based on hazy anecdotes and very basic, publicly available information.  Unfortunately, these types of non-professionally investigated histories can easily be manipulated, i.e., by net savvy perception managers.  For this, and many other reasons (personal security, access and information verification, to name several) we will always steer people away from the alleged “free” searches available online.  If one is serious about researching a potential employee or partner’s background, get it done right — by an experienced, highly rated private investigator.

Below we outline several types of background searches, their information yield and best applicability situations.

Basic Background Check, Individual:

Primary Uses:  Prospective new hires, subject identification, tenant verification.

Should yield:

  • DOB & Alias Names
  • SSN Verification
  • Address History (20 yr)
  • Address Summaries
  • Others Residing w/Subject
  • Possible Phone #s Associated w Subject (landline/mobile)
  • Email Addresses
  • Nationwide Criminal Profile (Includes State & Nationwide Criminal Databases, National Warrant Databases, Department of Correction Records, Nationwide Sex Offender Check)
  • Property Transactions
  • Civil Judgments, Tax Liens, & Evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Registered Vehicles *
  • DL Information *
  • Voter Registrations
  • Hunting & Fishing Permits
  • Professional Licenses
  • Possible Work Affiliations
  • Relatives & Associates

*In available states.

Recommendation: If the new hire will have access to accounting and or client information, we also suggest obtaining a release to conduct a standard asset search.

Comprehensive Background Check, Individual:

Primary Uses:  Prospective partners, major settlement/award cases, potential private care (nannies, housekeepers, home nursing aides…) and personal/business financial services providers (attorneys, accountants, brokers…)

Should yield:

  • All of the above plus :
  • Credit check (obtain authorization)
  • Financial background (to include but not limited to assets, banking information,  involvement in fraud investigations)
  • Professional background (to include but not limited to being a named party in any legal action, professional sanctions, industry rating)
  • Verified (in person/voice) and thorough reference checks

These are basic searches to conduct in the above referenced circumstances.  Of course, no two files will ever be the same and each search should be geared towards individualization.  A good professional investigator will know where to look and when to dig deeper.

As always, stay safe.

Are You Letting Criminals Into Your Home? Vetting Your Service Person Before He Comes Through Your Front Door.

repairman

Think of all of the repair people who have entered your home.  Did you know them personally?  I doubt it.

Over the course of the past decade, legislation has been introduced – and often passed – to limit an employer’s ability to request a job applicant’s criminal history.  Admittedly, every speeding ticket you’ve received is in some database somewhere and can be found, but how do we as a society balance minor infractions with the right to privacy?  I’m not sure where the balance of publicly available data lies but I do know that every time we let a stranger into our home, we have exposed ourselves to potential danger.  That’s a practical assessment, not fear-mongering, but caution should be second nature to us all.  Unfortunately, life bears out the need for proactive security measures as we sadly witness from the below tragedy:

From the local ABC station:

An exterminator has been found guilty in the murder of a young pediatrician and researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

35-year-old Dr. Melissa Ketunuti had graduated from Stanford University medical school, worked in Botswana and spent about five years at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as a physician and researcher.

37-year-old Jason Smith was found guilty of murder and related offenses Wednesday. Police say he was the last person known to have visited her home.

It happened in a row house on the 1700 block of Naudain Street in January of 2013. Police say Smith from Levittown, Pa. ended up strangling Ketunuti and setting her body on fire in the basement.Shortly after he was arrested, Smith gave police a lengthy confession.

He told them Ketunuti confronted him in the basement and started questioning his work. He said he eventually became enraged and started choking her.

One such tragic incident is horrible enough but we all know from news accounts of the many instances of homicides, rapes, theft, etc. that have stemmed from letting strangers into our homes.   Giving strangers access to our homes can hardly be avoided as everyone, sooner or later, will have the need for a repair, delivery or pest removal.  We hope and trust that the stranger has been vetted but why would leave such critical background information gathering in anyone else’s hands or go on faith that the repairman is a good guy – or woman. Also, as more concierge services such as Magic emerge to help us in our busy lives, we’re removed another step from clearly being able to identify service or delivery people coming into our homes.  (Magic operates via text.  Customers text 83489 with a request – for anything from pizza delivery to an electrician service call – and Magic agents coordinate delivery/service via partnered companies.  The service calls are still in beta mode.)

Referring back to the homicide of Dr. Melissa Ketunuti,  in the below video, our friend and renowned security expert/analyst, retired law enforcement and black-belted martial artist, Steve Kardian of Defend University – a women’s self-defense institute in NY, outlines several basics of home security when admitting a service person past the front door:

1. Hire from a reputable and known company.

2. Request the full name and, as is now possible, a text photo of the operative coming to your home.  Check this info against a government photo i.d. – not the company i.d.  Of course, s/he has a government I.D. – didn’t s/he drive to your home?

3. Have someone else in the home with you during the repair appointment.

4. If you can’t have another adult with you during the service call, video and audio record the repair person, transmitting in real time to a remote pc or trusted person. (Many service people may object but remember, this complete stranger now has access to you, your family and your home. Tough.)

5. Run your own criminal background check on the repair person.  (Steve suggests various services such as Intelius that perform criminal history searches.)

In any and all cases, as Steve emphasizes, listen to your instinct.  You should be uncomfortable with a total stranger in your home.  Protect yourself as best possible – that is your only true obligation.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Federal and State Employer Use of Arrest And Conviction Records.

job application

(From Nolo.)  Given that nearly 65,000,000 Americans have an arrest history, now more than ever we are seeing new laws to address the legal rights of a potential new hire when it comes to his/her criminal history.

There are two current federal protections in place to shield job applicants from discrimination based solely on an arrest and or conviction history. I.e. :

Federal Protections for Applicants With a Criminal Record

– Title VII: Discrimination Based on Criminal Records

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in every aspect of employment, including screening practices and hiring. Because arrest and incarceration rates are higher for African Americans and Latinos, an employer that adopts a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record might be guilty of race discrimination.

– The Fair Credit Reporting Act: Inaccurate Records

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) addresses the issue of inaccurate criminal records. Criminal background checks may include errors, such as information on convictions that have been expunged, multiple listings of the same offense, incomplete information (for example, failing to report that the person was exonerated of a crime or that charges were dropped), misclassification of crimes, and even records that belong to someone else entirely.

The FCRA imposes obligations on employers who request criminal background checks and on the firms that provide them. Employers must:

  • Get the applicants written consent ahead of time.
  • Notify the applicant if the employer intends to disqualify him or her based on the contents of the report. The employer must also give the applicant a copy of the report.
  • Give the applicant notice after the employer makes a final decision not to hire him or her based on the information in the report.

Each state also has employment laws on the book in regard to hiring those with a criminal past.

New York Law on Use of Criminal Records

New York gives applicants a number of protections when it comes to employer use of criminal records in making hiring decisions. Employers may not ask about or consider arrests or charges that did not result in conviction, unless they are currently pending, when making hiring decisions. They also may not ask about or consider records that have been sealed or youthful offender adjudications.

Employer with at least ten employees may not refuse to hire an applicant based on a criminal conviction unless hiring the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to public or individual safety, or the conviction bears a direct relationship to the job. The law defines a “direct relationship” strictly to mean that the nature of the criminal conduct underlying the conviction has a direct bearing on the applicant’s fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties or responsibilities that are necessary related to the job.

An employer that considers an applicant’s prior conviction must look at these eight factors:

  • the state’s public policy to encourage the hiring of those who have been convicted of crimes
  • the duties and responsibilities that are necessarily related to the job
  • whether the conviction has a bearing on the applicant’s ability to perform those duties and responsibilities
  • how much time has passed since the conviction(s)
  • how old the applicant was at the time of the offense
  • the seriousness of the offense
  • any information the applicant provides about his or her rehabilitation, and
  • the employer’s legitimate interest in protecting property and the safety and welfare of individuals and the public.

An employer who decides not to hire someone based on a criminal conviction must, upon the applicant’s request, provide a written statement of the reasons for the decision. This statement must be provided within 30 days of the request.

Look here for state-by-state hiring regulations and information as they relate to applicants with a criminal history.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, stay safe.

Business & Employee Background Checks – Know Your Partners, Employees & Vendors.

fingerprints

If you run a business, you have lots of worries.  Aside from the normal concerns like competition, pricing, R&D/marketing, location and customer service,  security issues  have become increasingly important.   Instinct can only take a business owner so far in assessing the work relationships in which he becomes involved.   A businessperson can run up against:

  • Employees with compromised criminal/civil litigation histories
  • Prospective partners who are less than truthful about their business (and related personal – divorce, child support, etc.) histories
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Scams
  • Unscrupulous suppliers/subcontractors

In looking at the statistics of employee theft alone:

“In a recent [2014] survey of small businesses, a University of Cincinnati criminal justice researcher has found that only 16 percent of those that have experienced theft by employees actually reported that theft to the police.

That’s even though 64 percent of the small businesses surveyed reported experiencing employee theft.”

Increasingly, security tech companies pitch IT monitoring systems and control to business owners as the most effective means of controlling today’s work environment as it relates to corporate crime.  Now let’s look at the reality:

detection

The vast majority of business thefts, embezzlements and frauds are uncovered by tips, audits and by accident. Accepting these statistics as fact borne over time, what does the employer do proactively and reactively with workplace crimes?

Employee Background Checks Provide the Answer

Certainly there are many free online tools of which prospective employers can avail themselves to research their employees backgrounds, but such a search should just be a cursory check, pre-hire. Working with an experienced investigator will yield formerly-hidden information as the professional background checker knows what to look for and where to look for it  – often in databases that are not easily available to the general public and through a process of key data analysis that can only be borne of experience, inclination and talent.

Here are the types of things a business owner can and should be looking into for the protection of his business:

Criminal Background Checks

Any time your business is dealing with someone you don’t know, you should run a quick check to see if they have any history of criminal activity. It’s very simple to find out about criminal records, FBI records, prison records and sex offender status.  There is access to their entire criminal history if there is one. With violence in the workplace such a major issue, a simple criminal check can be a very effective way to avoid problems before they happen.

Background Check for Employment (Pre-Employment Screening)

If you’ve got a small business, you should be pre-screening each person you consider hiring. No matter how professional, or how harmless, they appear.

A small print shop franchise in Florida hired an especially friendly fellow as their bookkeeper after the owner got too busy to handle it himself. The new employee didn’t offer much in the way of references but he sounded like he knew what he was doing and – big plus – he agreed to work cheap. The owner figured he would save money hiring the guy. He figured wrong.

The bookkeeper drained more than a hundred thousand dollars out of the company before they found him out. Turned out he’d previously been charged with embezzlement.  This is something a criminal background check would have quickly turned up. (Tip: Your investigator should know the positions sought by would-be new hires.  If a crime is directly related to the employee’s duties, [e.g., previous theft charges/accounts payable job], that history would certainly be a direct factor in the hiring decision.)

Background Check Existing Employees – Make it a Condition of Employment

You shouldn’t check only new hires. Over time, employees can develop habits and get involved in activities you’d never suspect. So you should regularly check on existing employees. Note: this is something you should get legal advice for – but generally if it’s a condition of employment and you let them know in writing, it’s not invading privacy. You entrust employees with company funds or materials that can be stolen, or negotiating and purchasing power that can be abused. Keeping an eye on existing employees is just being prudent.

Run a Background Check on Each Company or Individual You Do Business With

You should investigate every supplier or contractor who serves your business. If the possibility of harm exists, then you need to know if someone you’re in business with is likely to harm you. You can check credit, check backgrounds of the owners and managers, check the company itself for any past criminal or questionable activity.

Run a Background Check on Each Partner With Which You Intend Do Business.

Here at BNI we’ve worked with numerous matters involving prospective and current business partners.  Our clients come to a realization during our investigations that either the partner is upstanding or s/he is seeking a working relationship that is covertly dishonest due to personal and professional issues, (i.e., expensive divorces, costly child support litigation, past debt, etc.)  Especially those who are very close to your business  – your means of support –  should be thoroughly vetted and, moreso after the partnership is active and red flags begin to appear.  Our intent and focus during partnership investigations are on collecting information that can be used in potential criminal and civil litigation.

I’m not relating anything in this post that you, as the business owner, have not already considered or experienced but I’ll add the important point that with today’s tech tools, conducting this type of business due diligence is cost-effective and results-effective and is easily set up on an as-needed scheduling basis.

Given the increasing transiency and mobility of our work relationships, it is smart to proactively protect your business, rather than the latter, often very expensive clean-up required in the aftermath of personnel failure.

BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.

As always, be safe.

Asset Searches – How Far is Far Enough?

Generally, an asset search investigation is requested to determine a subject’s tangible assets (or, quite often, to satisfy the court that there are no other recoverable assets beyond policy limits, albeit the injuries sustained may be valued at a much higher award).

Balancing the public’s privacy with informational needs is challenging but ultimately, very doable.

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 is often more reliable than generalized information. The first step in recording any asset begins at a local level. Many information companies provide “nationwide” information, which can widen the asset search scope. The drawbacks to commencing an asset search on a nationwide basis first, however, are

a) record 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.

So now you, the attorney,  have the subject’s tangible assets information. The subject owns a Chelsea duplex, a home in Hyde Park and a boat docked at the Bayside Marina. The next step, from an investigative standpoint, can range from determining if the subject has any liens, judgments, bankruptcies and other pending litigation to a full criminal background check.

In answer to our premise question then: Asset Searches: How Far is Far Enough? Assess the potential settlement/judgment and the likelihood of the subject having seizable assets. 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: One step ahead.

As always, be safe.

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