Posted by: John Vandivier | October 1, 2013

10 Step Background Check

This article will cover 10 steps to a well done background check. I also have a 20 step method, but that is a bit of a secret for now. This is a solid basic method.

  1. Conduct a brute search on a search engine such as Google. You will need a search phrase which should usually simply be the person’s first and last name in quotation marks. A brute search means you look at every search result to exhaustion.
  2. Keep a record of the useful sites and information you encounter. Spreadsheets are very helpful here because you can quickly group related information using sort functions.
  3. You may decide to conduct additional searches identifying key phrases turned up from the initial search. For example, a person may have an alternate name or a corporation may have parent, daughter, or other closely related organizations.
  4. Construct a working biography based on the search results. The working biography will help to identify missing gaps of critical information. This should include specific information such as birthday, places of education and the appropriate time frames, places of education and the appropriate time frames, career information and information on relationships to other organizations and key people.
  5. Look through related social media.
  6. Check property, court and criminal records. Court records are usually done through the Court Clerk on a county basis. Sometimes arrest or citation records from a local police office are easier to get than criminal records. You can use the term “records check” instead of referencing a particular kind of record and this will make them more likely to give you at least something. Property records are usually handled by the County Assessor. You may have to actually call phone numbers here, although in many cases online searches are available.
  7. When constructing employment history, beware of false claims of military service. A surprisingly large number of people use false claims of service to get a wide variety of benefits, or just to impress people. This article explains how to correctly check past and present service as well as veteran status. For other professions, be sure to keep an eye out for certifications, registrations, licenses and so on.
  8. Perform a media and influence analysis. Look for mentions in the media and consider the topic of the mention, the positive or negative impact of the mention and the frequency of observations of the mention. Keep track of whether the person is usually being talked about (media analysis) or if they seem to be a member of the media who is doing the talking (influence analysis). Sometimes you might like to do both. For example, a person who is not a member of the media but has still managed to garner a significant social media presence such as a celebrity should have both done. Keep an eye out for fake social media influence as shown by fake followers, likes and so on.
  9. Perform a worldview analysis. Look for political and religious affiliations as well as all manner of personal information such as gender, race, area of residence, social network membership and other information. Keep in mind the difference between espoused values (what the person claims to be) and underlying assumptions (the kind of person he or she behaves like).
  10. Write an overview of the research you have conducted including a title page, table of contents, executive summary, biography, media and influence analysis overview, worldview analysis overview, and conclusion. The summary will be a condensed version of the conclusion. Ideally the executive summary should be a page. Longer than 3 pages is exceptionally long. They are called executive summaries because executives read them and they don’t have time to waste. The conclusion can provide more context while still generally summing up the issue (why the research is being conducted), the findings and the recommended actions if there are any.
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