Background investigation is a very basic and essential technique in investigations. It is actually the crux of all investigation. It’s values are indispensable and a well performed background investigation can make or break a case.
Why perform a Background Investigation?
Simply, because you need to know something or some things about an individual, a business, or another entity.
Here are a few examples:
- You need to know if your new nanny has had a record of child abuse or abduction.
- You need to know if your potential new employee has been truthful about everything on his or her application.
- You need to know if your client is on the level.
- You need to know if the plaintiff is being fraudulent.
- You need to know if your witness can be impeached.
- You need to know if your opposition’s star witness has a “usable dark spot” in his past
- You need to know if that business you are considering purchasing is being sued or has been sued and has liens against it.
- You need to know if your business partner is involved in other things.
- You need to know if your opposing attorney is going to use the exact same closing arguments he or she used at the last trial.
- You need to know the presiding judge’s biases.
- You need to know the jury members political affiliations.
The list goes on and on . . .
What can I learn from a Background Investigation?
You can learn many, many things about your subject, including, but not limited to:
- A correct name and any aliases used.
- A correct company name and any subsidiaries, etc.
- Correct addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, tax i.d.’s, etc.
- Correct current and previous employers.
- Criminal convictions.
- Civil litigation history.
- Assets and Liabilities, including banking and property info.
- Judgments and liens, etc.
- Automobile/vehicle ownership information.
- Automobile driving records.
- Personal Property Tax information.
- Real Estate Tax Information.
- Neighbors, friends, relatives.
- Credit history (with a written consent).
- Spouse, relatives, friends, associates, business partners, businesses, etc
- In short, you can even find out what kind of deodorant someone uses, as well as other things you may not care to know. But maybe we should save that for another section . . .
What do I need to perform a Background Investigation?
- How about enough money to pay a professional?
- Okay, enough of the plugs . . .
- Time, telephone, pen , paper, car, and some money. These are the basic necessities. Other very helpful items include a computer, information databases, internet access, and directories of private investigators around the country from associates like InfoGuys, NALI, CII, WAD, etc..
- Good common sense and some street smarts. The key is not necessarily knowing where the information is, but it’s knowing who to ask. Most investigations are conducted in this manner. It is impossible in today’s age of information to know where every little snippet of information is, but it is not impossible to know how to find it, and finding it simply requires tenacious inquiry – OR ask around until you find the answer.
NOTE: Please know that most states forbid persons from looking into the reputation or activities of other persons or business as an ordinary course in their business, UNLESS that person is a licensed private investigator, attorney or their employees, or law enforcement. Even if you do it occasionally to check out your nanny or a renter, their may be restrictions. AND if you do violate any laws, aside from obvious repercussions, any information you have retrieved about that person may be deemed inadmissible in a court of law. Please consult the laws in your state.