Category Archives: Uncategorized

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 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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