Private Investigations for Businesses and Business Owners
Editor's note: This article was written by Michele M. Harris, founder and private investigator for Harris Investigations, about how businesses can use private investigators in their regular operations. The opinions expressed here belong to Michele M. Harris.
Private investigators have a lot to offer professional businesses though these businesses may not realize all the ways investigators can be used. Once business owners get past the myths and stereotypes of our profession, they can obtain useful information that benefits their business. Here are some of the ways private investigators can serve businesses.
Detailed Background Checks
One of the biggest ways a PI can help a business is by conducting extensive background checks. These pre-employment and yearly required background checks can be for civil, criminal, bankruptcy, credit reports, and drivers records. The kinds of background checks required of a business depends on the state. Many business agencies rely on cheap searches they find online, but private investigators are much more accurate and thorough. For example, Care.com, one of these online websites, recently got in trouble for recommending unsuitable people who somehow passed through their screenings. Meanwhile, an investigator found what they missed within five minutes.
Background checks can also extend beyond employment. When a business is planning a merger or acquisition, it’s a good idea to conduct a detailed background check on the other company, its owners, and partners via criminal, civil, property, Dunn and Bradstreet (commercial credit) reports, and more.
Another big advantage that PIs offer businesses are security sweeps. An investigator can evaluate the secureness of a building for employee safety. A colleague of mine provided an evaluation like this to a business and they were shocked at what their in-house staff missed. PIs can also recommend spot checks to make sure doors are locked during the work day and intruder drills to test how the staff reacts to potentially dangerous situations. Just make sure you clue in law enforcement if you are doing some of these drills yourself.
In recent years, the practice of employee monitoring is an increasingly popular way for private investigators to serve businesses. There are many jobs on the market that enable employees to work for two employers at the same time even though this may be a breach of contract. Following employees to make sure they are sticking to their route and not poaching clients for their own gain can save businesses and their clients thousands of dollars.
Though they can technically be done by anyone, the results of secret shopping will hold up better in court if done by a professional private investigator. They are able to call or visit the employees at a certain business to make sure they are providing the best customer service. Having conducted such investigations before, they will know what to look for when testing employees and how to act so as to not to reveal their observation.
One of the most obvious benefits of a PI is their skill with surveillance. There are many situations in which a business might need someone followed for professional reasons. Watching injured employees, employees on long-term absence, or current employees to make sure they are doing their job is something investigators are trained to do. Private investigators will not only uncover lazy employees that don’t work when they should, but they will also uncover any scams or double-dealing which will save business clients money in the long run.
Collections done via the fair credit report act rules and GLBA guidelines is another good way private investigators can serve businesses. When creditors are looking recover some or all of the assets that are rightfully theirs, a trained private investigator can legally collect what is owed from deadbeat debtors. They do this via skip tracing, which enables them to find debtors, and asset checks, to see what assets need to be settled and how. Keep in mind that an investigator’s work must be FCRA and GLBA compliant.
For many businesses, private investigators are useful for termination services. An investigator’s presence during an employee firing and their ability to escort the employee off the property can put the employer at ease during the difficult process. Investigators are an unbiased third party, not part of the company, and are often more effective than in-house security. They can even take this service a step farther by taking the terminated employee home if they have a company car and securing company information, such as products, computers, and marketing, from their home.
An important service that private investigators offer to businesses is location services. Experienced investigators can locate witnesses for court cases, locate experts in various professions, and can even potentially find missing clients and employees.
A Variety of Uses
There are many different aspects involved in running a business effectively. Private investigators can help businesses in a variety of ways and will ultimately save their clients money and hardship by conducting any necessary investigations quickly and effectively.
About the Author
Michele M. Harris, LPI is the founder of Harris Investigations and continues to serve as a private investigator. She Started out as a secretary to another agency and was lent out to others to help them get organized. Within a few years she was was offered the on the road posting. Harris then worked for other agencies from 1985-2005 before deciding it was time to start her own company in December of 2005. She started out in PA and is now licensed in NJ, DE, and MD. Harris Investigations is a full service agency from nuts to bolts.