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Blasting Bad Debt Collectors Out Of Business

Every superhero has a weakness. With Superman, it’s Kryptonite.  With Green lantern it’s the color yellow. And with Daredevil, it’s just a lot  of background noise. But what about the supervillains? Obviously they have weaknesses too. And it’s my pleasure and delight to talk about them.

In the world of supervillians, the worst of them is the big bad debt collector. And the badder the debt collector, the easier it is to find their Kryptonite!

This blog will talk about the really bad debt collectors. I won’t claim there are good debt collectors. But the bad ones are those that illegally ignore the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Sadly, the worst offenders are lawyers. Particularly, it’s the attorneys who think that because of their power and connections, they can trounce on the little people. So here’s a handy dandy road map to blast them out of business! I’ve even included scare letters which you can send to the state bar, their big bank employers and to all their trade associations (the pals they hang out with).

The Four Ways To Cripple A Bad Debt Collector 
1. Drive up their cost of doing business (More Lawsuits & Publicity)
2. Scare away the companies that use them (Sample Letter)
3. Get them in trouble with their peer groups & licensing boards
4. Get the government to shut them down. (FTC & CFPB)

1. Drive Up Their Cost Of Doing Business

Debt collectors cut corners because it’s faster and cheaper than playing by the rules. So now is the time to punch them in the pocketbook.

Use public awareness so more debtors know their rights, fight harder, pay less on their debt and sue more under the FDCPA. Remember that the FDCPA encourages consumers to sue and will even pay for your legal fees if you win. You can also collect $1000 per every violation! Often, your reward trumps the debt you owe!

To spread the word, tell your story to the BBB and other Internet Complaint Websites. Make sure to mention key terms that other debtors will search for. Include the full name of the collection agency, the phone #, the name of the individual collector, FDCPA and what they did wrong. For example, “I asked them to validate the debt but against the law they sued me instead!”

You Will Need Publicity
Lawyers won’t go down without a fight. And they are experts at fighting in court. So you need to fight them where they’re at a disadvantage. And this means the court of public opinion.

Publicity is more than just the media. And it’s more than just the Better Business Bureau. It also includes reaching out to Consumer Advocates. It is through such means that you can force a debt collector to make nice, or drive it out of business.

For how to background your debt collector, don’t forget to look at Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

2. Scare Away The Companies That Use Them

Big bad debt collectors often work for big global banks. These include the banks you know by name such as Capital One, Bank of America and Citibank. And the bigger the bank, the more sensitive they are to bad publicity.

Sometimes the collector works for a debt buyer such as Midland Funding. A scare letter is much less effective with Midland because they already have a bad reputation. However, you might want to send it to them anyway. Their lack of response can be used to draw in the media. And once the media is involved, you can lobby your government representative to saddle them with more fines and regulations.

To write a good scare letter, you will want to Google your bank with FDCPA or complaints. If the bank has had bad publicity with debt collection, you can mention it in your letter.

For the same reasons, you will also want to do a background check on your debt collector. For how to search, see the end of Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA (Sleuth For The Truth).

Sample Letter To Capital One Public Relations Department

Capital One Rehires Debt Collection Firm Fined $3.1M for Robo-Lawsuits …

Dear Capital One,

The above headline is almost a certainty. How you minimize the fallout is up to you.

You are using the law firm of Rooling & Pinter to collect debts on your subprime credit card accounts. As you must know, Sooling & Pinter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Prederick J. Sanna & Associates. You are no stranger to Sanna. Sanna is the same law firm you previously used to collect on your credit card debts. It’s also the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

The Sanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA. To stop further action against it, Sanna signed a Consent Order with the federal government, which was made final on January 6, 2016.

As part of this Order, Sanna, agreed to pay $3.1 million in fines and acknowledged itself to be a debt collector subject to the FDCPA. The Order also prohibited Sanna and its partners and successors to engage in unfair debt collection practices. (see CFPB Complaint and Consent Order).

Out of the ashes of the Sanna firm, arose Rooling & Pinter. Rooling & Pinter was formed just three weeks before the Consent Order that forced Sanna out of business. And the new firm is strikingly similar to the old one. In fact, the named partners, Goseph C Rooling & Sobert A Pinter, belonged to the Sanna firm, and were specifically named in the government suit against Sannah. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. (For National Headlines on Sanna partners Roseph Rooling & Sobert Pinter, click Here.)

Like its predecessor, Rooling & Pinter has continued in the Sanna legacy. In 2017 alone, they’ve been sued 11 times for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many of these cases touch on the same practices prohibited in the Consent Order.

To this day, CW lawyers are telling debtors that the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them. The reason they give is alarming. They say they’re exempt because they have a special relationship with Capital One. True or false, this puts Capital One in a bad light. And inquiring minds want to know what Capital One has to say about this.

Capital One is no stranger to publicity. According to the Wall Street, Journal, Capital One is the top lender to the working poor. (sub prime credit card accounts). In another article, Capital One was noted for “Easy Credit and Abundant Lawsuits.”

In that story, the Consumer Federation of America called for more government regulation against subprime credit card lenders. It found “disturbing” the volume of suits filed by Capital One, and it urged regulators “to investigate whether the perils of subprime credit cards outweigh the benefits.”

So these debt collectors are already in the federal spotlight. And they have already made national news. Using them against the working poor is an open invite for more government regulation.

Below, Are the 18 Lawsuits Where Your Debt Collector Was A Defendant.

The 11 lawsuits in 2017 were all for Violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Note how quickly CW settles them-often within 1-3 months- to avoid a ruling that the FDCPA applies to them.

Bottom Line: A wolf in Grandma’s clothing is still a wolf. You are using debt collectors who have hurt thousands of people. And they’re still at it but under a new name. So when the feds and media come knocking at your door, what will Capital One have to say for itself?

Very truly yours

Joe Debtor

 3a. Get them In Trouble With Their Licensing Boards

Publicity & The State Bar
As a lawyer myself, I know that lawyers fear bad publicity. And so does the state bar, which in GA, just happens to be run, not by the government, but by the lawyers and judges themselves!  If you don’t believe me, just take a look at the websites for doctors vs. lawyers.  For some reason, GA doctors are regulated at medicalboard.georgia.GOV.  But GA lawyers are regulated at gabar.ORG.

This is your strength. The state bar is very much like the Motion Picture Association. Both are terrified that outsiders might make the rules for them. Both want to regulate themselves without government interference. With the MPAA it means they’re very aware of the public’s sensitivity to sexual acts, and will rate on this more aggressively than on violence.

But with the state bar, it’s less about sex and far more about client theft. If a lawyer is caught stealing a client’s funds, the bar is terrified that if they don’t act immediately, the government might step in to correct the matter. And so in these cases, the Bar is very tough on its own.

That said, most lawyer offenses are treated with far less punishment. Unless of course, you can convince the Bar that if they don’t act fast, their friends the government will…

So with debt  collector law firms, you must show how the individual lawyers are acting so badly that there needs to be immediate damage control. Otherwise, it will look like the state bar is a den of wolves and cannot police its own!

Show They Violated Ethics Rule 8.4 (Attorney Misconduct)
Your state bar is in charge of enforcing lawyer ethics violations. This includes whenever a lawyer engages in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. So don’t let a lawyer blow smoke in your face and say the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them.

Know deception when you see it. For example, when CW was told they must follow the FDCPA, one of their senior lawyers tried to mislead the debtor into thinking otherwise. (They actually said it in an email!)

The lawyer starting saying something that was technically true: “We represent the creditor and the creditor is FDCPA exempt”.  But in context, it was said only to fool the debtor into thinking something false; i.e. that the FDCPA did not apply to CW, a law firm which is clearly a 3rd party debt collector!

There was no other purpose for this response except to mislead and deceive the debtor, who had challenged them under the FDCPA! So they violated both the GA Bar rules on deception and misrepresentation, along with the the FDCPA rules against misleading the debtor.

In CW’s case, they know full well they are under the FDCPA. Take a look at the disclaimer they have on their website. It totally tracks the FDCPA disclaimer-the one where the law requires all 3rd party collectors to say This is an attempt to collect a debt and any information obtained will be used for that purpose.

Now what debt collector would ever put this on their website unless they were forced to by law? It’s like the cop who reads you your Miranda rights and claims it was just a courtesy. The police don’t do it as a courtesy. They only do it because they have to. So CW has committed a breach in ethics by lying to you.

For how to background your debt collector, don’t forget to look at Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

Sample Letter To State Bar Ethics Commission
Dear state bar: I am not a lawyer but I do know how lawyers are seen by the general public. Sadly, most people are suspicious of lawyers until they need one. And even then, they assume that the state bar will protect its own at the expense of the people hurt by them.

That said, I hope the state bar will investigate the ethics lapse of lawyer x who works for the law firm of CW. This lawyer violated ethics rule 8.4 which requires they refrain from deceptive or misleading statements.

As you must know, CW is the successor to the notorious law firm of prederick J. janna & Associates; the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. The janna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA.

CW is much like the defunct janna firm. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. To this day, CW lawyers are still telling debtors that the FDCPA doesn’t apply to them.

Now that you know the checkered past of this particular law firm, I will go into what they did wrong here. In my case, the misleading/deceptive statement was… I also have an email/recording  to back it up.

Worse, lawyer X is an expert on the FDCPA and a former employee of the defunct Sanna law firm. This lawyer knows better.

I am copying this email to Randy Travis at Fox 5 News. I am also copying (list one consumer advocate group)

Possible headlines include :
State Bar Protects Notorious Attorney Debt Collectors Shut Down By Feds
State Bar Won’t Police Its Lawyer Debt Collectors, Is This A National Trend?

Please respond in the next 7 days.

Best regards,

Joe Debtor

3b. Get Them In Trouble With Their Trade Groups
(Are You All A Den Of Thieves Argument)

Find the trade Associations the debt collectors belong to and scare them with unwanted media attention. Have I-team reporters place calls to the National Credit Association and other groups these lawyers mingle with, belong to, host seminars at, or are invited to speak at.

To find the groups they interact with, Google the name of the individual wrongdoer and the word association. Repeat with the name of the company. If the association has them as a key speaker or treasurer or president etc, make sure the media exposes these connections.

Also get the reporters to contact respectable trade groups for comment, even if the debt collector doesn’t belong to them. The goal is to have them admit that the debt collector is out of line and publicly put distance between them and the big bad wolf. i.e. Big Bad Wolf is wrong and most of us debt collectors are not like that.

Enlist the Debt Collectors Who Play Fair Who Are Put At a disadvantage because the bad guys cut corners. If the bad guys always win then it’s just a race to the bottom of who can ignore the law the fastest. Contact Convergent Outsourcing, a debt collector who plays by the rules and will be at a competitive disadvantage with the bad guys.

Do the same with other respectable debt collection trade groups. Have reporters call them for an opinion on big bad wolf’s collection practices. Do they have any suggestions on how to stop crooked debt collectors? Watch your story gather momentum as respectable organizations chime in with their opinions.

Sample Letter To Trade Association Re CW Debt Collector
Dear National Creditors Bar Association (NARCA)
I wish to inform you that one of your members is actively flouting the FDCPA.  The individual attorney is X and they work for the law firm of CW.

Specifically, they falsely claimed they were not FDCPA debt collectors, refused to validate the debt and also did … I also have an email/recording  to back it up.

This is in violation of Ethics Rule 8.4, and also the FDCPA which forbids deceptive or misleading communications. It also goes against your NARCA code of Professional Conduct & Ethics.  Specifically this attempt at deception causes disfavor with the public and a lack of public trust in violation of Article I, Section 1 and Section 2.

Please consider that your member law firm is the successor to the notorious law firm of prederick J. janna & Associates. As you must know, in early 2016, this firm was fined 3.1 million dollars and shut down by the federal government. The new CW is much like the defunct janna firm. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s phone number.

And it seems they are at it again with numerous FDCPA violations. Given your reputation in the community, I hope you will take action. The general public does not have much faith in a creditor’s group policing its own members. Please show us we’re wrong.

I am copying this email to Randy Travis at Fox 5 News. I am also copying (list one consumer advocate group)

Possible headline includes :
NARCA Shields Notorious Attorney Debt Collectors Shut Down By Feds
NARCA Won’t Police Lawyer Debt Collectors, Is This A National Trend?

Best regards,

Joe Debtor

4. Get the Government to Shut Them Down.

Like a slow languid beast, the government won’t act unless there’s  plenty of prodding. To get it moving on your behalf, you’ll need lots of help. Help can take the form of consumer action groups, the media and other debtors who’ve been victimized.

You’ll also want to know all about your debt collector. This includes , who they’ve hurt, and if they’ve ever been fined or investigated by a government agency. For how to background them see the end of Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA.

Getting More Victims To Come Forward
The media love to talk to real live victims. And the government will need to know who else has been hurt. The best place to find other debtors are in Magistrate and Superior court where the cases are recent or still ongoing.

A court search does two things that should make you happy. First it will get you a  list of defendants (victims) involving CW or it’s attorneys. Second, you get to see the names of the big bad banks you’ll want to write scare letters to. To search court records, see Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA

Exposing A Debt Collector Who Won’t Follow The FDCPA

To the non beer drinker, there’s only three types of beer in the world. There’s BAD beer. There’s VERY BAD beer. And there’s LESS BAD beer. And so it’s much the same with debt collectors.

This blog is all about the VERY BAD debt collectors. Here I will show you how to background the crooked ones along with their company or law firm.

As an example, I will name real names. You will get to see an actual  background check on the notorious lawyers of C&W. (link to law firm)  C&W is a prime example because it’s been sued 12 times in 2017 alone. And virtually all the lawsuits against them concern bad debt collection practices. So you’re in for a real treat!

When we’re done you’ll be able to expose a debt collector’s lies, ferret out their half truths and expose their prior bad dealings. You can then use this information to negotiate your own settlement!

As a special bonus, I’ll even show you how to blast a crooked debt collector out of business. For believe it or not, you have powerful tools to make unscrupulous debt collectors play by the rules.

This includes enlisting the aid of honest debt collectors, the BBB, the media and even the debt collector’s own licensing board and trade associations. It could also mean getting help from consumer rights advocates and powerful government regulators.

Can I Enlist The Help Of A Plaintiff’s Attorney?
Most plaintiff attorneys won’t dare use these weapons of mass destruction. Because unlike you, they don’t really want to go nuclear. To them, it’s a big game of catch and release. They see the debt collector as a wild animal that should be caught, caged and let go again.

No attorney makes money off of destroying big bad debt collectors. They make money off of suing them and collecting their attorney’s fees. (again and again). So it’s not in their interest for you to blast them out of commission. It’s like asking the farmer to kill the goose that lays all the golden eggs. This is why the media, consumer advocates and government regulators are your best course of action.

3rd Party Debt Collectors Must Play By The Rules (The FDCPA)
When I say play by the rules, I mean that most debt collectors must follow the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA  is the golden rule that applies to all third party collectors. It even applies to collectors that work for the creditor but look like they are an entirely different company.

If the collector violates these rules in the slightest, they could be sued for $1000 per violation. Plus, they may have to pay your court costs and even your attorney’s legal fees. Yes, it’s all built into the Act to encourage attorneys to take your case. Free of charge!

Blog Roadmap

  • Spotting The Lies & Half Truths Collectors Say
  • How To Show They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
  • Googling The Debt Collector and Their Company
  • Checking The State Courts & Complaint Databases
  • Checking For Other FDCPA Lawsuits Filed Against Them
  • What We Found on C&W!

Spotting The Lies  & Half Truths Collectors Say

Lie/Half Truth #1

Since We’re Part of The Creditor, We’re Exempt From The FDCPA
Debt collectors love this one.  Some of them even believe it. One of the real life exceptions to the FDCPA is that it usually won’t apply to creditors who collect on their own debts. Nor does it usually apply to the creditor’s employees.

For example, if you owe money to Capital One, they can collect on the debt with no fear of the FDCPA. The same goes if you receive a call from their accounting department or their in-house lawyers.

But even then, the FDCPA forbids them to collect under another name. OR in a manner which makes them appear to be a third party debt collector. If they do that, they will be stuck under the rigid rules that bind all third party debt collectors. Note that in CW’s case, they sometimes will insist the creditor is not subject to the FDCPA. But the status of the creditor is not the issue. It’s the status of the debt collector that counts.

And this is VERY important. The trend these days is for some collectors to falsely claim they are not a third party. Instead, with forked tongue, they’ll tell you they are somehow an “affiliate” or “employee” of the creditor.

The reason they do this is because if they can skirt the rules they can undercut their law abiding competitors. And by ignoring the law, they can collect their debts cheaper and faster than everyone else.

Honest debt collectors hate when their competitors try these stunts. For unlike the baddies, they’re the ones who get penalized for playing fair.

Lie/Half Truth #2

Since We’re Debt Buyers The FDCPA Won’t Apply To Us
Debt collectors will also try to avoid the Act by claiming they are debt buyers and therefore exempt. In other words, they will tell you that since they own the debt outright, they are now the creditor and can collect on it in any way they choose to.

This is a half truth based on the recent Supreme Court ruling in Henson. What they won’t tell you is that the FDCPA still applies to them when the principal purpose of their business is debt collection. See Henson v. Santander Consumer USA Inc., 137 S. Ct. 1718 (2017). And this is where the background check comes in.

How To Show That They’re Still Bound By The FDCPA
Under current case law there are 4 ways a debt collector can be bound under the Fair Debt Collections Practice Act. Since the collector may try to hide this information from you, it’s up to you to find public records that support your case!

Prove any one of the following and they’re still on the hook:

1. The debt collector is clearly a third party who is collecting the debt on behalf of someone else.

OR

2. While the debt collector claims to be part of the creditor, they have the appearance of being an entirely different company. For example, they use a different name, incorporate as a separate entity, have a different website, use a different logo and have different stationary-all of which conveniently fails to list an affiliation with the creditor.

OR

3. While the debt collector may own the debt and say’s they’re merely collecting on it, you have proof that debt collection is the principal purpose of their business or part of their regular activities; For example, their website says they’re debt collectors and all their lawsuits and articles involve debt collection.

OR

4. Even if the debt collector is a debt buyer or part of the creditor, you can show they also act as a third party collector with respect to other debts.  For example, they say they’re an “affiliate” of Capital One but you discover they also collect debts for competing banks such as Bank of America or Midland Funding.

A General Background Check To Reveal The Facts Above
Each background check is different. And you never know the juicy facts that can help you until you find them!

So it’s important to do a background check on both the debt collector AND their company. If either one has a checkered past, all the better.

Googling Frigid Summers
I Googled the law firm of Frigid Summers with many or all of the terms below:

Frigid Summers FDCPA
Frigid Summers Complaint
Frigid Summers fines
Frigid Summers sanction
Frigid Summers Capital One (To see if they are connected)

Googling Attorney Quincy Jones
I then did likewise with one of their attorneys,

Quincy Jones Georgia
Quincy Jones Georgia attorney
Quincy Jones Georgia complaints
Quincy Bradley Jones
“Quincy Bradley Jones”
“Quincy B Jones”
Quincy Jones Capital One
Quincy Jones Frigid Summers
Quincy Jones FDCPA

Other words to search for include their name along with
contempt, fined  and disciplined.

Googling Specific Newspapers For Stories Re Your Collector or Their Big Bank Employers
You’re more likely to get the media to do a story if the collector was already in another story by them. And you can bet the collector’s bank employers will be more apt to drop them if you remind them about their prior bad press with debtors, or how the collector has damaged their rep in the past.

Sample Google Search For Collector and Media Articles

Sanna debt site:ajc.com (collector in Atlanta Constitution)
Sanna debt site:wsj.com (collector in Wall Street Journal)
Sanna debt site:nytimes.com (collector in New York Times)

Sample Google Search For Big Bank & Media Articles
(Getting Headlines to include in Your Scare Letters)

“Capital One” Sanna debt site:ajc.com (collector & Capital One, AJC)
“Bank of America” FDCPA site:nytimes.com (FDCPA trouble)
“Midland Funding” debtors site:wsj.com (general bad press)

Check The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s Complaint Database. The CFPB Complaint Database shows the type of complaints filed by others which the government already knows about. For Example, CW has had 75 complaints since 3/16/16 to the present. This information may be useful when contacting the media, writing scare letters to the big banks, or when negotiating with the collector. It’s also good to remind the government that the collector is still a menace.

Check Local and Federal Courts For Cases They’re Involved In
Search by the last name and maybe 1st name of their attorneys. Also search by their law firm. You’re looking for three things:

1. The names of the companies or banks they represent
The more competing banks they represent, the more obvious they’re a third party debt collector. Also, the cases will show you if there are any big banks involved, i.e. the ones most sensitive to bad press. You’ll want a list of these so you can write them scare letters or  get the consumer advocates and reporters to give them a happy phone call.

2. The names of the debtors that are being sued
If the debt collector is telling you lies, there may be other witnesses who can vouch for their bad conduct. Reporters also like talking to a other victims to make their story more sensational.

3. Other lawsuits that show dirt or bad conduct.
Has the law firm, collection agency or its attorneys been sued for malpractice? Are their any suits against them in federal court for violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act?  You’re looking for anything juicy and embarrassing they don’t want publicized.

Searching For Rooling in GA ( Fulton State & Magistrate Court)
In the link above, search for the word Rooling
and set your display to 200 records. You’ll want at least a dozen names and addresses of defendants in debt collector actions during 2017.  This will help when you or reporters reach out to other victims.

Do the same with Fulton Superior Court.
Choose All Case Records and enter the CAPTCHA. In the box below this, change Search By: Citation to Attorney. Ignore all fields but the attorney’s name. In this case, the attorney has a rare name so search by the last name of RASPER (nothing else). When you see a list of cases, look for the ones grouped as Contract/AccountFor more info on a case, click on the blue links to the far left

USING PACER TO FIND OTHER FDCPA LAWSUITS
Often, a big bad debt collector trounces on the little guy in magistrate court. But later the debtor turns around and sues the collector in Federal court for FDCPA violations. The debtor often loses the first case, but then through the help of free plaintiff attorneys they win or settle the second case. At least that’s how it works when CW is sued.

And guess what? You can find all these cases on PACER. PACER is free if you use it wisely. And even if the case has settled already, you get to see what every debtor complained about (before they were paid to keep quiet). This is great because the debtor’s complaint can show if there’s a pattern or practice the government should investigate. For example: a debt collector’s repeated attempts to sue before the debt was confirmed or “validated.”

To search on PACER, log in and then get to find a party by pasting the link below in the Internet address bar at the top:
https://pcl.uscourts.gov/pcl/pages/search/findParty.jsf

Or you can go to Case Locator. Then click on Case Locator again and find party.. Next, in the field called Last Name or Entity Name, all you need to do is enter in the law firm name without the LLC, LLP etc. For example “cw”. Click Search and watch the magic!

Here Are all the Unfair Debt Collection Law Suits Against CW for 2016-2017


What We found On FrigidSummers

  1. Sooling & Pinter is the successor to the notorious law firm of Prederick J. Sanna & Associates.
  2. Sanna is the same firm that in January 2016, was fined $3.1 million and then shut down by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
  3. The Sanna firm was shut down because it relied on deceptive court filings and faulty evidence to churn out over a hundred thousand debt collection lawsuits in violation of the FDCPA.
  4.  Rooling & Pinter was formed just three weeks before the the government  forced Sanna out of business. (They knew they needed a new name as a shut down was imminent.)
  5. The new firm is strikingly similar to the old one. In fact, the named partners, Goseph C Rooling & Sobert A Pinter, belonged to the Sanna firm, and were specifically named in the government suit against Sannah. In addition to having virtually the same partners and many of the same attorneys, the new firm even uses the old firm’s prior phone number. (For National Headlines on Sanna partners Roseph Rooling & Sobert Pinter, click Here.)
  6. Like its predecessor, Rooling & Pinter has continued in the Sanna legacy. In 2017 alone, they’ve been sued 11 times for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Many of these cases touch on the same practices prohibited by the government Order that shut down their predecessor.
  7. Sooling & Pinter collects for Bank of America, Capital One and a debt buyer called Midland Funding.
  8. Sooling & Pinter lawyers are licensed by the GA Bar and subject to their rules and regulations for ethical misconduct.
  9. Sooling & Pinter is a member of a trade organization called NARCA (The National Creditors Bar Association)
  10. CW knows it’s subject to the FDCPA. In 2017 alone, CW has been sued under the FDCPA 11 times. And in every case, they settle within 1-6 months.

What We Found On Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones was no angel either.

  1. Quincy worked for both Sanna and CW and is therefore bound by the government order on unfair debt collection.
  2. Quincy is a former magistrate judge and files many suits in magistrate court.
  3. Quincy  holds herself out on as an expert on the FDCPA. and even was about to teach a class on such to NARCA before it was canceled due to a hurricane scare.
  4. Quincy in spite of her seniority and expertise, still tells debtors she and her firm are not covered under the FDCPA.
  5. Quincy is a lawyer licensed by the GA Bar and subject to to their rules and regulations for ethical misconduct.

For more see,

 

 

 

 

 

Googling For Courts, Crimes, Marital Status, Names & Contact Info!

We’ve all been told “just Google it!”  Well, here’s how!

Below are the best ways to Google arrest records, mugshots, criminal convictions, lawsuits, their marital status, divorces and more!

Googling For Criminal Conduct
Use variations of the person’s name along with the words
arrested, convicted, sentenced, charges, charged, felony, fraud, guilty, misdemeanor, mugshot, NOLO, pardoned, paroled and probation.

1. Jason Smith convicted
2. Jason Smith arrested
3. Jason Smith guilty
4. Jason Smith NOLO
5. “Jason Smith” conviction (name in quotes)

6. “Jason R Smith” charges (with middle initial)
7. “Jason Richard Smith” sentenced (full name in quotes)
8. Jason Smith sentenced Georgia (common name, with  state)
9. “Jason R Smith” sentenced Georgia
10. Name above with the term felony or misdemeanor

Remember to search with the name in quotes and also without quotes.  If your name is a common one, be sure to include a state as well.

Googling For Federal Crimes
Use variations of the person’s name with the words
indicted, convicted, sentenced, charges, charged and federal.

1. Jason Smith indicted
2. Jason Smith federal convicted
3. Jason Smith “federal prison”  (one term in quotes)
4. “Jason Smith” “federal prison” (both terms in quotes)

5. “United States” v “Jason Smith” (both terms in quotes)
6. Jason Smith charges federal
7. Jason Smith sentenced federal
8. Jason Smith sentenced federal Georgia
9. “Jason P Smith” sentenced federal Georgia (middle initial)
10. “Jason Parker Smith” sentenced federal Georgia (full name)

Google For Civil Lawsuits (State or Federal)
Use variations of the person’s name (with and without quotes) along with terms like plaintiff, defendant, liable, lawsuit, suit settlement, settled or litigation.

1. Graham Firestone Plaintiff OR Defendant (OR must be in caps)
2. “Graham Firestone” Plaintiff OR Defendant (“” narrow results)
3. “Graham Firestone” v (as plaintiff)

4. v “Graham Firestone” (as defendant)
5. v “Graham B Firestone” (as defendant, middle initial included)
6. v Fonzerelli (defendant, one word so no quotes)
7. v Fonzerelli “New York” (refines the search by state)

Google For Marital Status
Start with broad searches with the first names of both people along with the guy’s last name. You can narrow it down with a state or other key words if you get too many hits.

Searches with the terms above can also include the words married, husband, wife, spouse, wedding, registry, divorce, divorced and custody.  If they’re listed as husband and wife, are they still married? Find out by Googling their names with the word divorce OR divorced OR custody. (A child custody issue between them would make the answer obvious).

Or try searching for their first names and last, but with the results limited to only the past year or two.

See the search examples below:

1. Harold Karen Gruberman (his & her 1st name and last name)
2. Harold Karen Gruberman Georgia
3. Karen Harold Gruberman Georgia (names switched around)
4. Harold Karen Gruberman Georgia wife OR married (use OR in caps.)

5. Harold Karen Gruberman custody
6. Harold Karen Gruberman wedding
7. Harold Karen Gruberman registry
8. Harold Karen Gruberman divorce OR divorced

Google For Divorces
Start with broad searches and refine if you get too many hits.  See the examples below where I search with and without quotes.

Searching with his name and divorce might work.  Or it could pull up every divorce attorney in town! Here’s how to bypass those annoying ads from divorce lawyers and still get the meat!

1. “FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard
(use quotes, may pull up several of his divorces)
2. “FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard Susan
3. “FIRESTONE v FIRESTONE” Richard Susan Georgia
(WARNING: Adding GA could exclude his divorces in other states)

Googling A Name
Try various combinations. Note that each variation can yield different results. See examples below:

Name Alone
Michael Cohen
(can pull up middle initial)
“Michael Cohen” (“” for an exact phrase, good for bus. records)
“Michael R Cohen” (middle initial, good for mugshots)
“Michael Robert Cohen” (full name, good for death records)

Name With Other Info
“Michael Cohen” “New York”
(narrow hits by state or city)
“Michael Cohen” architect (narrow hits by profession)
“Michael Cohen” ukulele (narrow hits by hobby)
“Michael Cohen” Microsoft (narrow hits by employer)
Michael Roberta Cohen (narrow hits by spouse or relatives)

Googling Phone Numbers
Try various combinations. Note that each variation can yield different results. See examples below:

1. 404-867-5309        (dashes)
2. (404) 867-5309     (parentheses)
3. 4048675309           (raw number)
4. 404.867.5309         (points instead of dashes)
5. “867-5309” Graham  (root # with a first or a last name)

Googling Partial Phone Numbers
Graham  Firestone 587 (rare name and not sure of the last 4 digits)
Graham Firestone 9228 (rare name and not sure of the first 3 digits)
“John Smith” 9228 (put common name in quotes)
“John Smith” 9228 Roswell (city added to narrow your search)
Graham 9228 Roswell (first name w/ city and partial Phone #)

Googling An Address
Less is more. Do not attempt to put the whole address into Google as it may exclude valid results. Here’s how to Google
515 Wyncourtney Ct NE, Atlanta, GA 30328.

First Enter
515 Wyncourtney

If you get too many hits or irrelevant returns, try
“515 Wyncourtney”   (“” keep phrases together)

Other Searches:
“515 Wyncourtney Ct”
“515 Wyncourtney Court”
“515 Wyncourtney Ct”  Atlanta
“515 Wyncourtney” Atlanta

Googling A Business Owner
Google his name or company (do both) and then do it again with the following words: suit, lawsuit, litigation, complaints, fraud.
.
At first, search without limiting it to a particular state.  You may discover he’s had the old business in other states where people have complained about him. Too many hits?  Then add your state too.

Googling A Home Builder (phrases in quotes)
1. “Edward Hightower” builder complaints
2. “Edward Hightower” builder fraud
3. “Edward Hightower” “home improvement” complaints
4. Edward Hightower builder litigation (name w/o quotes)
and
5. “Equine Barns” complaints (his company)
6. “Edward Hightower” builder litigation Georgia
7. “Edward Hightower” builder lawsuit Georgia
8. “Edward R Hightower” (builder’s middle initial)

See Also Google Like A Pro
For How To :
1. Google search 100 hits per page instead of 10 per page
2. Search for an exact phrase using quotes
3. See old versions of a website (Google Cache)
4. Search for key words once on a web page
5. Exclude Google returns that contain unwanted words
6. Search for recent results in the past week, month or year
7. Search within a particular website
8. Search For Images (Google Reverse Image Search).

6 Ways To Background Your Date

So you’ve been texting someone from hookup.com and you’re ready for your first date.

But who is this guy? To find out, your first thought might be to do a fee based background check. After all, you want to protect yourself and these pay sites promise they can find anything.

But do you even know what you’re looking for? And if not, why should you expect results because you threw money at them?

The Overrated Criminal Background Check
When most people think PAID BACKGROUND CHECK, they’re almost always thinking about a criminal records search. And often, they have no idea what to look for. No clue on what’s truly important.

Granted, it’s a little off putting to discover your date is a dangerous child molester. Or that he may have beat up his last girlfriend for eating too much dessert at the Taco Bell.

But most people don’t have criminal records. So you won’t learn much if the guy’s missing a rap sheet. It would be like thinking he’s safe to date, simply because he has no cavities or was never seen wearing a pink tutu.

Other Things You Want To Know
For example: What about the guy with no criminal record who’s hiding he has VD? Or the ex Boy Scout/choirboy who just happens to be lying about his age, his property or the fact that his recent photo is from the Carter administration?

These are the things you won’t find in a criminal records check. And trust me, you’ll want to know about them.

Easy Ways To Weed Out Creeps & Liars
Your first step is to confirm the information he’s told you about himself. Has he given you his correct name, his true age, or concealed or misrepresented things about himself? 

For example, does he rent when he says he owns? Is there a woman on the deed to his house? Does he have 5 different dating profiles with different ages… Or do any of his photos turn up on scam lists or at ashleymadison.com?

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Little lies are like little wildfires. Both are far more dangerous than they appear.

How To Search Criminal & Other Databases (excluding Google)

Less is more. Don’t fill in gender, race or county. Your attempts to be specific will cause you to miss valuable records. At first, try with just a first and last name only, no middle name. If you get too many hits, then add a state. For more see People With Common Names-How To Background Them.

Free Links To Do A Real Background Check

1. Reverse Searches of Cell Phones, Emails, Photos, User Names, etc
Most people volunteer information about themselves. To verify and uncover additional information about them, be sure to plug their contact information into these free reverse lookups.

As a byproduct you’ll often get their middle initial or middle name, age plus other places where they’ve lived. This can come in handy for the criminal searches which come later! For when you know he’s lived in another state, you’ll be searching there too! 

 

Red flags include not being able to find his name, or finding a different age or another person with his contact info. Check several sources as they’re sometimes wrong. For more see Verify Their Marital Status-Part II.

Look them up on at least three of these sites to see what comes up.  Often you’ll get a history of addresses, phone numbers and even prior jobs and schools they attended. And of course, their all important middle name or initial which is great for Google searching.

Note that employment and education are self reported and almost always taken from LinkedIn and Classmates.com. So take it all with a grain of salt.

But even false information on employment and education can be helpful. For example: Maybe your John Smith lied about going to Harvard. But at least you know it’s him when you see the same guy posting the same lies on imacheater.com!

 

Red flags include not being able to find his name, or finding a different age but with the correct contact info. Also note additional states he’s lived in and if there are female relatives within 12 years of his age. Could be a spouse. Check several sources as they’re sometimes wrong.

Once you know he’s given you the right name, and you have his middle initial, search for arrest mugshots, and the obvious criminal records. For example, federal prison records, sex offenders and the national databases for misdemeanors and felonies. Don’t search with his middle initial. Just keep it in mind when you see the results so you know it’s the right person.

 

Red flags include finding his mugshot, or his name with middle initial or any contact info that leads you to believe it’s really him and not someone else with the same name. For more see Is The Crime Still Online?

4. Googling

Don’t forget to Google him by name, as well as by any of his addresses, phone numbers, emails and usernames. For phone numbers, try like this 678-587-9228 and (678) 587-9228.

For names, Google with and without quotation marks.

Examples:
John Smith
“John Smith”
John R Smith
“John R Smith”
John Roland Smith
“John Roland Smith”

Too many hits? Then add their city or state. (or a prior city where they once lived.)

 Googling For Drama

To see if they’re a hot mess, you can add words like arrested or convicted or sentenced or indicted or fraud or lawsuit or plaintiff or defendant or married or divorced. If for example, the age/relative lookups show he only lived in two states, you can plug these in to further narrow your Google search. For more see Google Like A Pro (Quick Tips and Verify Their Marital Status-Part II.

5. Bankruptcies & Bad Debt
Bankruptcy records are free and it’s always good to know in advance if he can’t handle his finances. Obviously be on the lookout for recent bankruptcies. For more see the Sleuth For The Truth blog on Free Bankruptcy Records.

6. Verify Their Profession/License or Certifications
Are they really a doctor, lawyer or teacher? Many professions are listed at the Secretary of State or state bar or state medical boards. And for government workers you can also verify their position and salaries.

For more, see the blog on Who’s Dating My Daughter?

Conclusion
Don’t sit on your hands. And don’t think you’ve got it covered with just a criminal background check. The free links above will help you uncover the lies, half truths and omissions. So be safe and don’t forget to bring along your pink tutu.

Who’s Dating My Daughter?

So your baby girl is seventeen! Congratulations. But who in the world is she dating? And should you care? After all, at 17 she presumably has some sense.

Yeah right. Maybe she’s got more sense than a gaggle of other seventeen year olds. But seriously, there’s a reason we don’t allow them to vote or drink. Teenagers need our protection. They need time to think, to grow and to become more mature.

Your kid may be a genius at school. But knowledge is not the same as wisdom. What most teens have is impulse. They think. They feel strongly.  And they live eternally in the present, without much understanding of the past or the future. So it’s natural for them to assume that what they see, feel and want must be right, good and true.

But your teenage daughter does not have the lifetime of experience that you do. She can’t see the danger signs the way a middle aged adult can. So yes, you should know who she’s dating.

Anatomy Of A Background Check-A Real Story
To protect the not so innocent, all the names and places below have been changed. (Anyone who feels I’m talking about them can sue me!)

Recently I was approached for an intervention. A father knows his daughter is prone to date bad boys. And he wanted to protect her.  So he demands she give him the name and address of her latest love interest.

She says his name is Mergio Valdez, he’s 19 and he lives with foster parents Jill and John Longbottom at 123 Main Street SW, Backwater Georgia.  An address lookup of the property confirms that the Longbottoms do in fact live there.

So what do you do with this information?

Step 1: Assume His Name & Address Is Correct and Learn More About Him
My first step was to look up Mergio Valdez in the Age Lookups. I wanted to see if there was in fact a Mergio Valdez age 19 who lived in GA. I also wanted to link him to the address I was given.

Age lookups are great for they list relatives, addresses and the all so important middle name. They also include almost everyone in the United States over 18. Even when their number is unlisted.

Red flags to look out for would include if I couldn’t find a Mergio Valdez age 19, or if I was unable to find a Mergio Valdez in backwater GA or at that address.

In this case, I looked at several sites, but his name DID NOT turn up in the age lookups! This would be virtually unheard of if he were over 30.  But it could be he was still too close to 18 for there to be much about him just yet. But I wasn’t so sure.

What really was surprising was that there was no Mergio Valdez of any age whatsoever. If I saw his name in an older age bracket, this too would be worth investigating.

Step 2: Use Social Media To Get His Photo & What He Says About Himself & Others
At this point I needed a quick and dirty way to find him on social media. I knew I could root around in Facebook. But Facebook is confusing. Especially when you have no idea what the person looks like.

Facebook floods you with a billion people including those from other countries. I didn’t want all the Mergio Valdez’s from Mexico. Just the ones in the US, and preferably from Georgia. I also wanted a means to get to all his social media postings at once.

With Pipl I was able to enter in his name and his location. If I found too little I could always search again without his location. But in this case I hit the jackpot.

A Mergio Valdez from backwater GA was on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! And from his photo he looked like a dorky 19 year old kid. (Just as we hoped he’d be.)

Now was the time to find out if he was safe. I reviewed his tweets and postings and they were all about sports and school. There was nothing about sex or violence here.

And from the photos of his friends, it seemed his site was legit and that his friends were numerous and about the same age he was. I could even read about the 3 poems he had posted.

The age of his posts were also important. I noticed his posts were from three years ago to the present. This bolstered my conclusion that this was not just a made up site to lure in the innocent. He had this up and running for a while. But not for so long that I would doubt he was really 19.

Step 3: Check Criminal Records
At this point I went to check arrest records, and other criminal databases that would pull up anyone with his name regardless of where they live. These could also be restricted to a particular state if his name was a common one.

However, using a nationwide search I still didn’t find anything. He was either squeaky clean. Or he didn’t exist!

Step 4: Check If He’s For Real And Investigate All Other Leads
It bothered me that I could only find him on social media. I kept thinking about his posts and photo. Something seemed a bit fishy.

Mergio was just too clean. What teenage boy talks only about school and sports? Either he was unusually careful or an absolute saint!

Also, why did he keep posting the same dorky photo of himself? Add to this that he kept listing his city and state, yet I could not trace him to the address we had.

So now it was the time to see if there was anything about him that wasn’t for real. After all, he could be a real person with his own photo but using a fake name. Or it could be everything including the photo was fake. Perhaps the photo belonged to a model and he “borrowed” it for his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Using Photo Lookup And Pipl To Learn More Based On
His Picture, Usernames, Phone Number or Email Addresses

So I checked the photo in Google Image lookup to see if it came from another person or another website. But I didn’t find anything.

I also put his usernames from his social media accounts into Google and Pipl.  But I still got nothing. I would have plugged in a phone number or email address too if I had them. But you can’t use what you don’t have!

Googling His Name With What You Know About Him
My next step was to Google his first and last name with the main part of his alleged address like this:
Mergio Valdez “123 main” backwater Georgia.

Again I found nothing. But I wasn’t about to give up. Now was the time to Google based on other things I knew about him. These included the names of his foster parents and the fact that he claimed to be a foster child.

I Googled for him and his foster parents like this:

Mergio Valdez foster Georgia
John Longbottom foster Georgia
Jill Longbottom foster Georgia
Mergio Valdez Longbottom

I could have added a city too if there were too many false leads. But the searches above found nothing! It was as if he just moved there yesterday or never existed.

Step 5: Circling Back To Reverse Address Lookups
At this point I was getting desperate. As a last resort I decided to do a reverse lookup on the address. It was then that I hit pay dirt!

Both the Whitepages and PeopleSmart listed a Ryan Starko, age 25 who was associated with this address. Sure enough, Googling his name with the address pulled up arrest mugshots!

Starko was a bad boy. He had many arrests and had been busted for crack! I was able to see his age, his photo, and that he was living at this address as late as 2013.

So was he still there now? Was daddy’s little girl dating a 25 year old crack addict? Given her background, it was frighteningly possible.

Soon I knew there would be a heart to heart talk between daddy and daughter! But as for me, my job was done. It was time to leave this small, sad  town with all its troubles. And so here I travel on this lonely road.  Bravely walking off into the deep red sunset.

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Names-How To Background

So you Googled your date “John Smith” and got a billion hits.  Some of the John Smiths are felons.  And some are florists, bankers and lawyers.  But which one is the guy who just texted you?  Even Googling his name with “Atlanta” gives you 70 million to choose from.  So how do you know you have the right guy?

Google is great for rare names.  But for common names, it’s your worst enemy.  What you need is something more focused.  Something that allows you to discover other unique things about the person you’re looking for.  And once you know these things, Google becomes your friend again.

Spotting People By Their Unique Physical Features

Sketch of a Person-Physical Things Unique To Him

In the everyday world of face to face contact, we can spot our John Smith even when he’s in a crowd.  The reason is he has unique PHYSICAL features that make him different from everyone else.

For example: We can find him by his height , the shape of his face, the color of his hair, his voice and many other things that taken together, no one else has in the exact same package.

But when looking for records, you don’t always have the benefit of a photo.  So how do you find someone on the Internet when you can’t see their face?  The answer is to find the non physical features which like their face, make them unique. For common names, you’ll want a list of such before you start Googling.

So what non physical features make your John Smith stand out in a crowd?  What’s so unique about him that it’s obvious it could be no one else?

Spotting People By Their Unique Non-Physical Features

5.0 Stick Fig 3

For example: To find your John Smith in a Google or a criminal records search, it would be helpful to know unique things about him such as his middle name or initial, or his age or date of birth. This could narrow your search from ten thousand to 10 almost instantly.

What about the names of his relatives such as his spouse, his brother, his sister or his parents?  With this information, you could retrieve records with both his name and their names and disregard the rest.

Better yet, we would know we had the right John Smith, if his name was found along with his current and past contact information.  For example, a John Smith with at least one of the same phone numbers, addresses or email addresses as the one we were looking for.

6.0 Stick Fig 4

But why stop there?  Even without his contact information, we could still narrow down our list of John Smiths for we know our John Smith lived in 5 specific cities and states and that he’s also an attorney.

7.0 Stick Fig 5

Likewise, knowing his hobbies, his fraternity, and his college and employment history would also identify the right John Smith.  After all, there may be 10 million John Smiths.  But how many speak French, went to Harvard, liked skeet shooting and worked for Firestone tires?  And how many of these were Phi Beta Kappas?  Not many I bet.  In fact, he’s probably the only one!

So  even if the person has a common name, he’s still unique in other ways where you can identify him.  And once he’s identified, you can use these things to Google him. Or find criminal records that can only be him and him alone!

Where To Find Their Age, Relatives, Middle Name, Contact Info & More

Most of the commercial background check services give this information away for free. They are counting on the fact that you don’t know what to do with it, and will then pay for a more indepth background check. Take what they give. Without a credit card, they can’t charge you.

The best of these sites can be found at
http://www.consumer-sos.com/Georgia/People_Search/peoplesearch.htm#Age

How To Use These Sites
Enter in a first and last name only. Or add a state, if you know it. DO NOT fill in any other fields as you may miss valid records. Most people want to fill in all they know including a middle name, gender, age, city… But since some records won’t have a middle name or city, you don’t want to be too specific. This goes for any site you find. Search broadly. If there are too many hits you can go back and narrow your search terms with a city.

Other Resources For Free Background Checks
http://www.consumer-sos.com/Generic-Auto/People-Search/public-records.htm#TheirTrailofPublicRecords

Blogs On How To Do Free Background Checks
http://sleuthforthetruth.com/

 

Background Them By Their Business Card

So your 20 year old daughter is all gaga about the cool guy she met at the Waffle House.  “He’s fun, he’s fast and he’s really terrific”, she says.  “At 23, he owns his own modeling agency and is now off to Europe to check on his import export business!”

It’s obvious your daughter is wild about him.  But as a concerned parent you’re worried.  Some men will say anything for sex.  And as smart as your daughter is, she’s also a bit naive.  So you wonder, what if this guy’s a liar?  Or worse, what if he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing?  He could be dangerous!

Your daughter won’t listen without proof.  And you know just how to get it!  Now is the time to be cheerful.  So with your best botox smile, you say “That’s great honey! I’d love to meet him when he returns!  May I take a look at his business card?”

With great joy she hands it over to you.  And now you’re really smiling.  For his neck is in your noose.  With just a business card, you have all you need for a full fledged background check!  It’s time to pull the beard off Santa, and expose him for the fraud he is!

A short time later your suspicions are confirmed.  The guy is 30 not 23.  And to your disgust, the slacker still lives with his mommy.  You also learn the company he “owns” doesn’t exist, and his arrest mugshots show he’s driving on a suspended license-a license he lost after his second DUI.

He’s also lying about his wealth.  Court records on PACER show that less than a year ago he filed for bankruptcy.  Looking at the bankruptcy petition, it’s obvious to you what happened.  With his minimum wage job at the gas station, he couldn’t make the payments on his flat screen TV and the Jet Ski he bought on credit.

Smug and self satisfied, you tuck away his business card and can’t wait to tell your daughter the good news.  Ain’t life grand!

A Sample of What You Can Find Out From A Business Card

old-bus-card-paint-mrkup-cropped

Why A Background Check Through Their Business Card?
As you can see, a business card is so packed with information that it screams out: PLEASE DO A BACKGROUND CHECK ON ME!

The typical business card has:
1. The names of the person, business and website; and also
2. Contact information such as their address, phone number and email address.

Even if you’re not a protective parent, there are plenty of good reasons to do a background check.  And what better way than with their own business card!

People use business cards to inspire trust.  They hand out them out in the hopes you’ll feel they’re competent, dependable and professional.  So at the very least you can investigate these claims before you date them, hire them or introduce them to your friends and colleagues.

What To Look For In A Business Card
There’s only two reasons to check out a business card:

  1. Confirm The Person Is Being Truthful About Themselves
    Are they really a doctor or a lawyer? Are they truly a licensed CPA?  Do they own that company or work for someone else?  Is their physical address an office, a home or just a concealed mail drop made to look business like?
  2. Learn The Things They’d Never Dare Tell You On Their Own
    Is the person reputable?  Have they had complaints, been sued, or ever been convicted of a crime?  Did they drive their former companies into bankruptcy?  Do they own the property or just rent from their mom?  These are the things they won’t volunteer.  And unless you background them, you’ll never know what to ask.

Where To Plug In The Information
Google everything.  This includes their name, the name of their company, the phone number, address, email address and website address.  Make sure to Google with and without their middle initial.
For more on name searches see:

Leverage what you find to get even more information.  For example:, if your search turns up more companies or prior phone numbers and addresses, Google these too.  After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.  It could be these lead to other failed ventures, or to lawsuits and arrests that reveal their rotten character.

Check Licenses and Certifications  and verify they own the company they claim to own.  For example, all doctors and lawyers better be licensed in the state they practice.  Same with CPAs, realtors and financial advisors.  If you’re unsure if they need a license, Google their profession and your state to see if such is required.  For more, see the Sleuth For The Truth blog on Backgrounding A Contractor.

Do reverse lookups to see who’s behind any of the contact information on the business card.  Learn who is behind the phone number, the email address, who owns the property and whether its a real address or concealed mail drop.  Often a reverse lookup will tell you other things such as lawsuits, who their associates are and if there are complaints against them.  Other red flags include connections to criminal activity, and the business being “theirs” but you can’t find them as an officer or registered agent.

Finally, see what else you want to know about them at Consumer-SOS.com below:

Find Or Background People By Their:

Arrests, Mugshots, Criminal, Civil Records Friends, Associates & Relationships
Age, DOB, Relatives & Where Else They’ve Lived Liens
Contact Information (Includes Reverse Searches) Newspaper Articles
Assets (Whatever They Own) Name (Search By First or Last)
Bankruptcies/Bad Debt Neighbors
Business Or Profession Or Certification   Photos
Campaign Contributions Property 
Dating Profiles State, County, City or Zip
Death Records Websites/Intellectual Property 
Salaries-Federal & State Employees & Officers of Public Companies (Exact $ Amounts) Misc. Public Records (Classmates, Military, Genealogies, Rare Names, etc.)

 

Why A Background Check?

For anyone who would background the house or car they buy,  but not their date…

Are Public Records A Bad Thing?
Are you a privacy nut?  Or someone convinced that free public records mean the end of the world?  Or maybe you’re less extreme than that, but just a little alarmed because there’s far too much public information freely available online.

Well, to quote Bill Clinton: I feel your pain.  There’s a lot on the Internet that can be used to stalk people, defame people, or simply harass people. Too much hate, too much bullying, too much social media.  And yes, too many YouTube videos with annoying pop up ads.

So what are you going to do about it?  Without a time machine, we’re stuck in the here and now.  And like fire, which is good in the oven but terrible on the curtains,  so is the free information you’ll find on the Internet.

Think back to all the amazing inventions.  And the opposition they all received. The VCR allowed you to illegally copy.  But with it you could watch all your favorite programs without the commercials.

And what about the Internet?  It made huge numbers of teens more isolated, more asocial and even more into pornography.  Yet it also allowed bedridden grandmothers to Skype their distant grandchildren.  I could talk about the car, the iPod and the smartphone.  But you get the gist.  The technology is neutral.  What counts most is what we do with it.

So let’s stop the complaining. It’s now time to make the lemons into lemonade.

Trust But Verify
Too many times I get the question: Why do a background check?  Sometimes I’m even accused of being  a snooper or stalker.  The people who ask these things tend to think there’s something shady when you look someone up online.  Their concern is that the mere act of backgrounding someone creates inherent feelings  of mistrust.  And that it’s better to be ignorant than poisoned by unfounded suspicion.  In some cases they may be right!

I agree that it’s what’s in our heart that matters.  It harms us when we always suspect others of being liars or underhanded.  But this doesn’t mean we throw away our intelligence or our caution.  We live in an age where people are no longer in communities.  A time when people are no longer accountable.

Unlike a century ago, people now have the power to run away from their own heat.  They can escape their own bad reputations.  So you’re an abuser, a liar or a cheat?  Simply cut off old ties, move to another town and reinvent yourself.  Who will know?   Unless of course, there’s a trail of all the harm you’ve caused.  A trail that can be found easily and for free by those with a need to know.

Your Need To Know
As employers, parents and singles, we all have a need to know.  We have a responsibility to protect ourselves, our friends and our families.  We need to know who we’re going to hire or date or allow near our children.

As Ronald Reagan once said when dealing with the Russians, we should  “trust, but verify.”  This means we start out in good faith and with the best of intentions.   But we’ve got to do our homework as well.  We cannot close our eyes to the realities that surround us.

As the mom of little red riding hood, would you let your little girl wander alone in the forest?  And what about the man you invited home for dinner?  Are you so sure he’s not the big bad wolf?  How can you tell?  As in the story, the wolf wears many disguises.  And the faster you know it’s a wolf, the faster you can protect those you love.

When Is A Good Time To Do A Background Check?
So now you’re seeing wolves and want to do a background check.  But when is a background check appropriate?   It’s all about balancing your desire to trust verses the risk of being too trusting.  The threshold of trust is different for everyone.  It’s your life.  So only you can answer that question.

But allow me to make a few suggestions.  Do a background check whenever the stakes are high.  At the the very least, I recommend it when dating, hiring, renting out your house, or when investing in someone’s business.

I also recommend a background check when you notice something is wrong.  It could be that someone’s story doesn’t add up.  Or that an employee has a pattern of acting strange or erratic and you’re unable to figure out why.

What Do I Look For In A Background Check?
What to look for in a background check all depends on why you’re doing it in the first place.  For example, if your dating someone, their age and marital status may be more important than their DUI of 20 years ago.

If you’re checking out a renter, take a look at any incidences of violence or prior evictions, destruction of property, etc.  Also find out if they ever sued their landlord.

For investors,  you’ll want to check out their honesty and their competence in financial matters.  Do they have recent bankruptcies or defunct companies they ran into the ground?

Were they ever charged or convicted of fraud or embezzlement?  How do they manage their assets?  Checking out what they own tells you if they’re good managers.  It may also reveal if they have undisclosed conflicts of interests.  For example, are they asking you to invest in something they have hidden ties to?  Is it a Ponzi scheme or a company secretly owned by their kid brother?

Lies, Omissions & Funny Business (My Law School Days at ASU)
Often we have no clue what a person has done or even what to ask them.  In other words, we don’t know what we don’t know.  But if something suddenly appears fishy, it’s time to do a background check!

A great example of this occurred in my law school days when I met a a self proclaimed millionaire named Mike Davis.  Mike was smart, affable and seemed like a really nice guy.  But I should have suspected something fishy when I caught him waiting on the financial aid line.  Law school was a lot cheaper back then.  Millionaires didn’t need or qualify for student loans.  That was my first clue something was definitely amiss.

Years later at a party, I confessed to him, “Mike I’ve known you for three years and you’re still f*n inscrutable!  I know as much about you now as the very first day I met you!”  Mike grinned at me and said “just ask away little buddy!”  I was  silent.  What could I ask him?

A few years later Mike made national headlines.  And I so badly wanted to go back to that party and ask him: Hey Mike, by any chance, is your real name Walter Waldhauser And before I knew you, did you ever flunk out of a Texas law school and serve 9 years in prison for killing people to collect on their inheritance money?   And by the way, if you hadn’t plead guilty and ratted out your accomplices, do you think you too would have died by lethal injection as they did?  Just asking little buddy.  Just asking…

But again, you don’t know what you don’t know.  That’s why you should do the background check as soon as you know something’s fishy.   If there’s water dripping from the ceiling, don’t sit around until the roof caves in.

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