It is not what you can see that can harm you.
The Wall Street Journal published an article about how and why red flags are missed in background investigations in a number of high-profile cases. HR Managers are not background investigators, and some private investigators are not seasoned enough to know the limitations of online searches. You will not likely find “prior wrongdoing or acts concealed by and individual” from an online resource.
Below are five things to consider prior to hiring a background investigators.
- One Stop Shopping: Many firms rely on a single background source for information and will often cut-n-paste that information into a report and send it on to the client. But there are hundreds of data points that need to be researched and analyzed, before a thorugh report can be compiled. Manual research is often more time consuming and often can require an investigator to physically retrieve records from locations that do not post their information online.
- Technology Over-Confidence: Some have joked that Google is a cheaper private investigator. While Google has an enormous amount of information, even they admit it will take 300 plus years to index every bit of current information on the planet, if they could have access to it.
- Low-Budget Background Investigations: We have all heard it before, “you get what you pay for”, this is true and false all at the same time. If you want a $15 to $50 background investigation conducted, don’t expect to get solid information. Save your money and find someone that really works in the information field. A good basic background investigation will start at $250, this will satisfy the needs of most private individuals. If you are doing due-diligence on a new hire for your company that will have keys to the kingdom you can expect to pay $1,500 to $3,000 to find out what you need to meet the “standard of care” in protecting your company.
- Skill, Analysis and Tenacity: People looking for employment will often exaggerate some of their experience. But a skilled and tenacious private investigator will go the extra mile to confirm information or disprove claims. A recent client had someone who had changed their identity and adopted that of an MBA graduate he was friends with. Our investigator was able to spot this early on in the investigation and saved our client over 1,800 dollars on our bill. But the unknown question is how much did this background save them by getting the proper information in the first place?
- The Big Loser: A recent call from a well known corporations contacted us to begin providing comprehensive background investigations on all of their new executives and board members. It appears that in the past, the HR department would simply run one of the standard $15 online background reports from a nameless company and that would be it. After the company got the results back, they spent close to $180,000 in moving the new executive to Florida and setting him up for the first year at the company. Four months into the job he was accused of sexual harassment by three complainants. The answer to your current question is yes - there was a prior history of this behavior uncovered at his two past jobs.
Conclusion: Do it right the first time and save, time, money and frustration. We have all done it, latched on to the “good deal” and had buyers remorse right afterward. If we would have taken the time to do our research and not fallen prey to our impulse to save a few dollars or just get it done. We could have saved the expense, time and aggravation of completing the task all over again.