As the owner of a private investigation company and having more than 20 years experience, I never cease to be amazed when people allow themselves to become a victim of a scam. Yes, even the most prudent person can be a victim of unscrupulous businesses, but many of us are victims of our own lack of research. Since the mid 1980's, records have been pouring into databases that are readily available for us to review. I have found doctors and attorneys that are not licensed, men that have been married to more than one person at a time, businesses with more than 150 lawsuits against them and banks that are not actually a bank. I am sure that the lady who married a man who was already married with several kids didn't think she could be a victim. The people that sent funds to an off-shore bank had no idea that the bank was just a shell and a scam. I wish I had a $100 for every person that paid a contractor good money and never had the work completed.
The issue of privacy always seems to present itself anytime the topic of information research arises. As a reminder, we are taxpayers and our money is used to compile, store and access these records. As a taxpayer, we have the legal right to this information whether you want it to be open or not. More importantly, if you have a child in a daycare and suspect an employee of being a pedofile, you want to know the answer to that question. What about those of you who have a parent that you are considering placing into a nursing home? I am sure that you would like to know the way to research these facilities.
So if information is so readily available, why do scams still happen? Most of us have lives, jobs and families that take up our valuable time. Spending time searching the millions of Internet web sites for the one that can actually help requires more time than most are willing to spend. Even if you find information on the Internet, who has time to go to the courthouse to review the file? I will provide you with the tools you need to protect yourself in a summarized manner. The following web sites are useful tools in protecting your assets:
Criminal Records: www.memphisdailynews.com provides on-line criminal records for 22 states. By searching this database, you will be able to identify if the person has been arrested and charged with any crimes in that particular state. The record will identify the date, case number, court, charge and disposition of the case. This information will allow the person to identify if the person has tendencies towards physical abuse, thefts, fraud or other criminal activity.
Lawsuits/Judgments/Liens: www.knowx.com provides on-line searches state-by-state or nationally. This site will allow the user to key in the person or company name and identify any whether they have a history of being sued for bad debts, poor workmanship, failure to abide by contracts and other useful information. If liens are found, they may be a result of failing to pay federal or state taxes, another sign that the company may be having financial difficulties.
Doctors and Health facilities: www.healthgrades.com provides information and ratings on doctors and health care facilities. This sites allows the user to search the credentials of a particular doctor and identify the types of drugs they can legally prescribe. The site will also provide information on hospitals and nursing homes including the type of medicine they practice, if they have emergency care available, the number of beds in the facility and overall ratings.
State specific searches: www.pac-info.com provides records searches at the state or local level by clicking on the particular state. The records available for each state differs, however, most have access to property records, state corporate records and county specific records. You will be able to determine if a company is registered as a corporation in the state, when they became incorporated and if they are in good standing with the state. This site will also allow you to access property records in a chosen county. You will have access to the owner, value of the property, mortgage company, taxes on the property and whether or not the taxes are paid current. This is a good place to start if you are considering purchasing a piece of property.
Reverse Directories: www.555-1212.com provides cross-reference directories. You can find a person's address and telephone number by just having their name. A great feature about this site is you can do reverse searches. If you have a telephone number, you can get the name and address that it is listed to or do the same with just an address. The site also has searches available in other countries. The user can find a person or business or verify information using this site.
Business Reports: www.D&B.com provides business reports on companies. This site will provide information on the owners of a company, their industry, financial stability, average debt and much more. The user can determine if a company appears to be financially secure before dealing with the business.
Vital Records: www.vitalrec.com provides access to birth, death and marriage records. The site can help an individual track down relatives and/or confirm the identity of someone who appears too good to be true!
Social Security Traces: www.iqdata.com provides a method of obtaining a person's social security number. The user supplies the person's name and last known address and a social security number is provided. Once the number is obtained, a trace can be conducted through the same site to determine the person's current and previous addresses. Once again, the site will help locate someone that skipped out on a debt or confirm a person's identity.
You can see from these links that a wealth of valuable information is out there. The question is, "why get scammed" when you can quickly check them out?
Kelmar and Associates
2553 Jackson Keller, Suite 200
San Antonio, Texas 78230
(210) 342-0731 fax