Background Investigations

Business Background Investigation

As a business executive, you are the decision maker for the organization. You are charged with protecting the interests of your company or corporation. When you engage new vendors or contractors, or hire new executives, it’s important that those people are properly vetted and investigated before they gain access to your assets and customers.

Our investigators conduct in-depth research on potential executives and screen vendors to verify their identity, check for criminal history, verify professional licensing, and evaluate financial stability as well as litigation history. Whether you are a large enterprise or self-employed, the introduction of a partner or contractor requires due diligence. You have to know who you are dealing with; you have to verify information provided, and need to be able to evaluate any information a potential business partner failed to disclose. All too often a business client will reveal that they had been dealing with the person for a long period of time; and thought that they ‘knew him’. While having a history with a partner is great, there is no substitute for having the unvarnished facts that a background investigation provides.

Criminal Records Check

It is important to understand the different types of criminal history searches available.

National Criminal Records Check – For people outside of law enforcement, there really isn’t a National Criminal Records Check. Instead, it’s a limited search based on sources, generally courts, that expose reporting information to the internet. This is NOT comprehensive. For instance, in Georgia, less than half of the counties have courts that report criminal proceedings via the internet. However, it is worth checking so-called national criminal records, to get an idea.

Federal Criminal Records – The federal court system provides access to a name index for activity in the majority of federal districts across the country. However, this is name index only, and additional work must take place to ensure that the individual being vetted is indeed the individual that court records exist for.

State Criminal Records – Many states, including South Carolina, have a state-wide criminal records check that is name based. This can be very useful, and save a good amount of time. It’s important, however to understand the limitations. Some states only provide criminal history of certain severity, or for a limited period of history. Additionally, some states don’t have mandatory centralized reporting, resulting in what is at best a patchwork of coverage.

Local Criminal Records – If you are looking for the best accuracy, it’s at the local level. Local jails have records of incarceration that can be matched up with local court clerk records. Combine this with an address history, and you can gain significant insight into the past criminal behavior of a person.

Information is the key to making informed, intelligent decisions. These critical judgements can affect safety for you, your employees, and your customers, or have long term financial consequences.

Many people believe that if they ‘Google’ a person that they have learned all there is to know. While general Internet research is a good idea, at best it’s only a component of a proper background investigation.

Dating/Pre-nuptial Investigations

Conducting a background investigation at engagement, or even at the start of a dating relationship can be an important decision, and an investment in your emotional and financial future. The increase in internet dating scams and romance scams requires that you protect yourself. A background investigation can provide insight into the facts, and more information than what you are merely told.

Pre-employment Background Investigation

One of our business clients has had exactly that situation; hiring someone into a well paying job, only to fire him within six months for performance issues. Unbeknownst to them at the time of hiring, the employee had a history of violent felonies in a town

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several hundred miles away. The termination resulted in aggressive behavior towards managers at both their place of work and at home. As in scores of similar situations, not knowing the facts about a person’s background can have devastating consequences.

As an employer, you need to know the laws associated with background investigations of prospective and current employees. There are a number of legal risks from a number of statutes including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Graham Liley Bleach Act(GLBA) and the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act(DPPA) if background investigations are not conducted appropriately and within the law.

You should beware of pre-employment screening companies that promise a complete background check in one day and very little cost. In our experience, these services perform database queries of limited scope and with little verification. This can lead to serious omissions, or equally bad, false positives where otherwise qualified applicants are negligently excluded.

Our process begins with having an employee or potential employee sign a general release allowing our investigators to access data about the applicant or employees background. The release also requires that the applicant/employee certify that the information contained in the release is truthful and accurate. We then begin verifying the information on the application and begin putting together a location history of the person.

All too often we see employers and organizations perform a SLED Background┬áCheck on an individual, often ignoring the fact that person may have only resided in the state of South Carolina for a few months. Common sense dictates that if you run such checks without first verifying the identity, that you’ll receive no negative information. Similarly, if you conduct a check on a person with a history outside of South Carolina, you’d be missing a large part of the history.

We also see many employers and organizations that assume that anything printed on a resume or written on an application by a potential applicant is true. Statistically speaking, many applicants inflate, and some outright fabricate qualifications and experience. Verification of resumes and applications is an important step in the process; and sets the stage for information collection.

Finally, we complete our review by preparing a detailed report of our findings. This typically takes a few days to complete as we end up being constrained by responses to verification requests.

Our tiered approach to Background Investigations

Online Sources: Online sources are relatively inexpensive, and rapid. Proprietary databases and open source collections aggregate many sources of data, and this can give you a quick start on understanding the person. The risks and deficits of online sources is that they typically aren’t original sources, often you are seeing second or third-hand records, that may be quite stale or even inaccurate.

Original Source Information: Original source information provides far more detail, and accuracy about a person and events. A single line in an online source, may be the result of scores of pages of documentation at the canonical source. The downside is that original sources tend to be far more decentralized and time consuming to verify.

Human Intelligence: Human intelligence might include things like interviewing neighbors or coworkers, surveillance, or other direct observational methods.

Of course, the process works best when all three tiers are in play, and used to clarify and expand the overall picture.