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The Utah Gumshoe: Private Investigator Background Check Tips

The Utah Gumshoe: Private Investigator Background Check Tips

Listen: Private Investigator Background Check Tips

Many years ago I worked for the federal government conducting national security background investigations (BI’s). These BI’s were conducted to determine whether or not a person was suitable to hold a security clearance with the U.S. government. As part of my responsibilities, I conducted BI’s of the archivists and director of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. I remember sitting in the office of the new director drinking an ice cold Dr. Pepper and discussing the BI process. The director was personally acquainted with the Bush family…so, no pressure. Since that time, I’ve had many conversations about what constitutes a BI. People often call me and say “I’d like a background check please.” My first response is always the same. What does that mean? “What do you mean by a background check?” All BI’s are not created equal. That’s the first thing you should know. There’s no set list of what constitutes a BI. It may consist of nothing more than a criminal and civil check going back the previous 10 years. It may include a sex-offender check or a driving record check. It could be a full blown BI where we interview your neighbors, co-workers and ex-wife. Like the buffet at Chuck-O-Rama, it all depends on what you put on the plate and what questions you want answered.

Another important aspect of a BI is paying strict attention to where your data comes from and avoiding any gaps in coverage. A BI with gaps in coverage is an inferior product. For example, if your BI includes a state criminal record check and you use an online proprietary database (or even a state database) pay particular attention to what periods the records cover. If the database provides access to the records from 1977 up to June 2015 then there’s a gap in coverage. What about July 2015 through the current date? You may have to conduct a “hand-search” of those records at your county courthouse. Another aspect of coverage is where your subject lived and worked. For instance, if your BI includes a registered sex offender check in Colorado, but your subject lived in Missouri five years ago then you’ll also need to check the Missouri sex offender database. If your subject lived in New Mexico but worked across the state border in Colorado then you’ll have to check records in both states in order for the BI to be complete and valid. As you can see it can be a complicated issue. I have not addressed the legality of record checks, as they differ from state to state. You will want to consult with an attorney before doing so.

Until next time,

This is Scott Fulmer, the Utah Gumshoe, reminding you the game…if afoot!

About The Utah Gumshoe Podcast

Scott B. Fulmer The Utah Gumshoe

The Utah Gumshoe Podcast follows the real-life exploits, riveting case stories, investigative tips and insightful advice of Scott Fulmer, The Utah Gumshoe. Scott is a 20 year veteran Utah private investigator, surveillance expert and President/CEO of Utah Gumshoe, a private investigation firm based in Salt Lake City.

He has written numerous articles on investigative and surveillance techniques that have appeared in and other industry journals. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War where he served with the famous 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels). Whether you're a novice or an experienced investigator this is the podcast for you.

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