The Business/Legal Investigator

November 12, 2008

In This Issue:

Background Investigations- What you need to know!

Welcome to the first newsletter devoted entirely to the investigative needs of Florida businesses. Theft, embezzlement, fraud, unfair comptetion, and other bad things do happen here in Southwest Florida. Just watch the evening news! Large firms, insurance companies and most of the Fortune 500 have investigators on staff to cope with these difficult challenges. Small, medium and even many large businesses cannot justify keeping a staff of investigative experts on payroll. Enter the Business Investigator. As an outside consultant, the Business Investigator is called upon only when a specific issue arises. He is licensed and insured, with added expertise in business operations. This investigative specialist is sensitive to your "company culture" and knows how to reach a favorable outcome without risking adverse publicity or unwanted litigation. The Business Investigator confidentially coordinates with management and corporate attorneys to protect profits and prevent losses. So...with this newsletter we offer tips and methods to help you steer clear of the many proverbial minefields in the business world. We hope you enjoy our E-newsletter and when you need special help, we will be there for you! Your feedback is appreciated!


David B. Watts, CLI, CFE

ALLIED BUSINESS SOLUTIONS, solely owned d/b/a of
Interprobe Affiliates, Inc. a Florida Corporation
(Our twentieth year serving our clients in Soutwest Florida!)
FL Lic. No. A89-00394

"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
-Benjamin Franklin-

by David B. Watts, CLI, CFE

In this, our initial E-newsletter, we will guide you to a better understanding of background invesitgations. First, it is true that just about anyone with moderate computer skills can go on-line and come back with data that only imitates a reliable background check. There are lots of websites that offer this information for a nominal fee. Let's set the record straight: You get what you pay for! If you end up with a poor or incomplete report you might just as well have not bothered in the first place. If a felon's criminal record from 6 states away doesn't come up on the report you get, it is because the website that you checked was innacurate or it didn't bother to do a complete check. Its the old "Garbage in-garbage out" adage. You and your company may be held liable for introducing that felon to your workforce, your vendors or to your customers. Further, you can be held liable for using negative data that is actually against another person of the same name. With that in mind, you can see where great caution must be undertaken with common names,"junior" and other suffixes after a surname.

Each of our 50 states has its own guidelines when it comes to releasing criminal and civil filings. Some are relaxed in their privacy view; while others have obstacles for the release of data. Counties within each of those 50 states have criminal and civil records, but not all contribute to their own state files. Some state files report only felonies and leave the misdemeanors to the locals. Then there are local records in thousands of police departments, courts and city halls around the country, each with its own files that may or may not be shared with others. Lastly, there is the U.S. Court System that includes criminal, civil and bankruptcy files, all federal in nature. Given this less-than-perfect data environment, it takes a professional who knows how to navigate through the various systems. Considering all this, knowing that the on-line data sellers makes their living from volume, do you really think they do a diligent job?


Basic and advanced background checks should, first, confirm the identifying data of the person being researched. The data platform from which the research begins includes the name, address, date of birth and SSN of the subject. Initially, it is established that all those criteria fit together and are associated with the person of interest.

Next, past addresses are located and inquiry is made in each of those locations. A credit report provides noteworthy financial details; however, credit reports must be obtained legally and interpreted properly to contribute to your decision process. An experienced Business Investigator knows how to obtain this data and stands behind his findings.

When a negative entry is found, it should not be taken at face value. Those negative reports must be confirmed, so that you cannot be accused of making a false accusation.

Again, just relying upon a quick check of the databanks without any real investigation is the norm for those websites making sweeping claims at bargain rates. Is there follow-up to confirm that data is valid and, indeed, against the right person? You can be sued for making decisions based on false information.

While all background companies are not equal; not all background checks themselves, are equal. You wouldn't invest the same effort into researching an entry level laborer as you would an executive or someone in a fiduciary capacity. It is perceived exposure that dictates the level of background check appropriate in each case. Another way to put it is to ask, "What is the potential to do harm to my business within the duties of this position?" While a truck driver or outside salesperson may not be considered a high level employee; his or her ongoing driving record may be very important information for you!

Be careful! Use a qualified and professional investigation company that has the knowledge and the experience to report accurate and timely data, with the willingness to stand behind it!

return to newsletter archive

Getting the facts…that’s what we do!