How Deep Should a Background Investigation Go?

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We often receive calls for background screenings, or background checks; however, at TIN, we purposefully refer to cases such as this as “Comprehensive Background Investigations” for a specific reason. When we initiate an investigation into the background of an individual, we are earnestly investigating the background information of the subject and relevant leads in this investigation, rather than regurgitating information from a database. Many agencies offer low cost screenings, internet searches, or database print-outs to allegedly “investigate” the background of an individual. In situations such as these, what is actually occurring is that names are being entered into a single computer database and then unconfirmed data is being passed on to clients. The problem with this is that the information that is being provided is simply not reliable.

Like most licensed private investigation agencies, Texas Investigative Network, Inc. has access to a variety of proprietary databases, many of which contain criminal history information. The primary difference is that at TIN, we use this same level of information for lead purposes exclusively. We recognize that these types of criminal history screenings or checks are: not factual, not confirmed, not comprehensive, and not conclusive. We believe that information obtained under these circumstances, unless confirmed by a reliable source, is not to be reported to our clients unless we specifically designate the information as a lead and only a lead. For this reason, any information obtained by our proprietary databases, if approved by our client, is then verified with the actual jurisdiction in which it was reported and this jurisdiction is then researched directly for any additional information which was not reported in the computer database. It is not only common, but quite routine to find many additional filings and charges in those jurisdictions which one charge/filing is located by virtue of a database search.

To what level then should one dig when conducting a background investigation? As with all cases, the depth and scope of the research should be determined by the specific objectives of the client. TIN is routinely retained by attorneys, corporations, financial executives, insurance companies and private individuals, to conduct research assignments ranging from our basic Level I Background Investigation to Executive Level background investigations.
An executive level background investigation is a case in which, due to the fiduciary responsibility of the individual being considered for hire or partnership, a thorough and in depth investigation is critical. Examples of these situations are: mergers/acquisition, pre-loan due diligence, CEO/CFO/COO level hires, new business ventures, or any situation in which an individual or company is being considered to manage a high degree of financial responsibility and/or liability.

Depending on the requirements of the client and the circumstances for the executive level background investigation, the research can and should target a variety of pertinent areas: Criminal History, Sex Offender Registry, Civil Suit History, Liens/Judgments Federal History (Civil, Criminal and Bankruptcies) and Residential History so that the records for all relevant jurisdictions are searched. If the individual is applying for an executive level position with critical financial responsibilities, we recommend conducting a non-financial asset investigation on the individual to include Real Property, Boats/Aircraft/Vehicle ownership, UCC Filings, Business Personal Property, etc. Corporations, Assumed Names, DBA’s and Fictitious Business Entities are also routinely searched to for the purposes of identifying any and all businesses affiliations an individual is currently involved with.

If the appropriate releases have been signed, we can also obtain Credit Reports, verify previous employers/references and the education/degrees of individuals. This is a specific area where we have often caught individuals providing false information, credentials, etc.

The ultimate question one must ask themselves before entering into any significant personal or business relationship is not “should we initiate the investigation?”, but rather, “can we afford not to?”