Background Checks

As a private investigator you must learn how to perform background checks. If you search the internet, you will find dozens of sites offering background checks for $39.95. You, as a private investigator, cannot use these sites as viable sources of information. It’s not illegal – it is just that you just owe your client a professional in depth background check. These sites cannot be trusted as realiable sources of accurate information.

There are several sources a PI draws his information from. Simply sitting at a computer data mining does not qualify as an in depth background check. Here are some ways you can be sure to get criminal, civil, business, and personal records.

If you are a licensed private investigator, you will have access to information brokers. Information brokers are like the sites mentioned earlier, except these places have information only available to law enforcement, private investigators, and collection agencies. The general public doesn’t know these records exist on each of us. So, the place to begin your search is by using an information broker.

This should only be a guide, if you use it at all. Most information brokers charge $50 or so per search. You could save that money and do a more thorough investigation yourself.

The main piece of information you want to gather from the information broker is all past addresses on your subject. In America, there is no national database of all records. Records, both criminal and civil, are held at county level. That means if you want to do a nationwide civil search, you would have to visit every county in every state in America. There is no reason to do that. You only want records from counties your subject lived in. If your subject lived in three counties his adult life, you only need to search records from those three counties. This is why it is important to uncover all past addresses early in the investigation.

You now need to head to the courthouse or website of the court clerk for each county your subject lived in. Most States have online records. Some are better than others, some are just worthless. It is a good practice to visit the physical court clerk. You want to make friends with the clerks for future cases.

Once at the courthouse, you want to give the court clerk your subject’s name, address, and date of birth. The clerk should be able to search for criminal records and civil records from her computer. She will be able to give you this information instantly.

Once you have searched criminal and civil records, it is time to look for assets. Assets are personal properties the person may own. Head over to the Tax Assessor’s office. It should be close to the courthouse. You can search for any homes the subject owns in that county by name, date of birth, and possibly address.

After you have searched these records, head back to your computer. Pull up the Secretary of State for your state. Find the section for UCC filings. Nearly all state’s have searchable online databases. UCC filings would give you information such as business ownership.

If your subject lived in a county that is too far from you, it would be a good practice to network with other private investigators. Ask a private investigator in that county to search those records for you. You might need to pay them, but it is well worth it.

Background checks may seem like a lot of trouble, but they can pay well. Where online sites are only charging $39.95, you will be charging $250-$750 plus expenses. That is not bad for a couple hours of work!

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