Protecting Your Assets with a Background Check

Protecting Your Assets with a Background Check

Background Check to Protect Your Assets in Marriage
When you’re considering marriage, you should also considering running a background check on your partner to protect your assets.

Even if you didn’t meet your significant other in cyberspace, you could still be at risk for con artists and scammers. That’s why more individuals are turning to private investigators to perform background checks on their potential life mates.

One of the most critical decisions we make in life is who to legally bind ourselves to in matrimony—not only because of the vows we make to each other, but also because the legal union in most states means entitling the other person to half of your assets. There is an unexpected trend of private investigators—especially female private investigators—in countries where arranged marriage is woven into the fabric of culture. Many families seek to control familial relations and extensions for many reasons, like politics, financials, business consolidation, and status. As recently as 2017, arranged marriage accounted for 55% of marriages throughout the globe, leaving traditional marriage in the minority. This creates a niche market for private investigators to properly vet potential spouses in countries like India, China, Pakistan, Japan, and Israel to name a few.

Even though arranged marriage is not a major part of Western culture, that doesn’t mean that engaged individuals in the United States shouldn’t do their due-diligence when it comes to their life mate. When it comes to your assets, you should expect facts, not fiction. That’s why hiring a private investigator to perform a background check on your intended can save a great deal of heartache and financial distress. Even a basic background check from a private investigator can unearth risk factors. Private investigators will pull criminal history, litigation history, credit history, and history of residence to corroborate proposed facts about your romantic partner. It’s true that there are many “people finder” databases on the internet that claim their results are accurate and worth the cost of purchasing the report, and therefore an individual could conduct a background check themselves. However, private investigators must comply with specific security protocol and licensing in order to have access to verified databases on par with certain law enforcement agencies. This means that the quality of data entry comes with a much higher degree of accuracy, and will be updated regularly with regards to both public and private records. “People finder” databases cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, which may lead to additional misinformation, especially with regards to criminal and litigation history.

Private investigators also have years of experience that contextualize available information on a subject. For example, residence history is traditionally part of a basic background check. If the subject has a long history of moving between jurisdictions, or from state-to-state in short periods of time, a private investigator might examine this information—and based on context—determine that the subject has a history of transience, which could indicate a lack of reliability or a flight risk. If a subject’s credit history is consistently poor, that would be a financial red flag that might disqualify a subject as a spouse.

Private investigators bring valuable contexts to background investigations that empower individuals to make critical decisions in their private or corporate life. When two people get married, they often conduct other litmus tests in order to determine long-term cohabitation, such as blood tests for their health, or pre-marital counseling to determine their level of preparation. Background checks are just another measure for you to ensure that your life and your livelihood are protected.

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Top 5 Internal Corporate Issues in 2020

Corporations and nonprofits are in mutual company in 2020 as new rules and regulations of corporation oversight and employment go into effect. Leadership will have to step up their administrative supervision of their internal processes to ensure they don’t violate new legislature. Luckily, hiring a private investigator to ensure your company is compliant with new administrative legislature at the fraction of a cost to expand your corporation’s internal investigation team.

Sexual Harassment Prevention

Legislature and leadership alike are refocusing their personnel priorities to push sexual harassment to the forefront of their reform. In addition to ratcheting up sexual harassment prevention, but all forms of harassment within their workplace. A recent NLRB decision that would allow leadership to enforce total confidentiality during internal investigation, which will assist the identification of predators within any workforce. Private investigators are ideal candidates to seek out the predator in any corporation or organization, because they can infiltrate the workforce under the radar and collect evidence and testimony that might otherwise be lost.

Immigration, Worksite Enforcement & Background Screening

Employers can look forward to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increasing oversight on work sites, evaluating hiring processes, and ensuring every employee is able to legally work in the United States. Employers who do not comply will be subject to both civil and criminal penalties that can be devastating to an organization. Private investigators have vast databases at their disposal to obtain work and residency records for potential hire, applying proven screening methods to ensure no personnel are a legal liability.

Independent Contractors

Legislature is also holding companies to a higher standard of responsibility when their independent or sub-contractors incur legal trouble or have grievances against the parent organization. A bill in California known as AB 5 would make it more difficult to classify a worker as an independent or sub-contractor, a measure that would effect employers both in California and throughout the nation. When contractors are successfully classified as such, you’ll need a private investigator on your side to comprehensively vet the situation. With their full investigative toolbox, private investigators can get to the truth about inciting events that led to legal action, collecting evidence, speaking to worksite foremen, and provide comprehensive solutions to employers.

Overtime

Private investigators can also lend their prowess to individuals who believe a corporation is misappropriating funds in order to comply with a Department of Labor measure that requires employers to pay a minimum percentage of total salary in order to satisfy overtime requirements. Private investigators who specialize in financial fraud and misappropriation are able to review a corporation’s internal processes and open-source financial records to document the appropriation of overtime pay.

Data Privacy

With the ubiquity of technology and digital communication systems, corporate data—especially with regard to transparency—is a trending issue in public discourse. Whether through legal channels or otherwise, corporations and organizations need to protect their data from falling into the wrong hands. A private investigator can provide any organization with a risk assessment of both their digital and brick-and-mortar security measures from top to bottom—identifying cracks in the system and providing expert recommendations to ensure internal information stays internal. Private investigators can also identify potential whistleblowers in a workforce by examining individual risk factors and patterns of behavior.

Corporate Structure is Not Corporate Culture

Corporate Structure is Not Corporate Culture

The biggest mistake executives make when trying to improve their corporate culture…

The corporate culture within any company, without question, effects their bottom-line day to day. Just to name a few avenues, this occurs through operations, interpersonal relationships between employees, and a level of engagement from leadership that requires consistent enforcement of their established mission and values. Because a corporation’s internal culture often remains hidden from consumer view, it’s not uncommon for leadership to simply restructure operations. Unfortunately, if every aspect of a company’s culture is not examined, this solution is just a band aid.  

The Ice Berg Metaphor 

When concerning a corporation’s culture, we often use the iceberg metaphor as a means of defining it. Ten percent of a corporation’s values and culture are above the water where the public and consumers can see it, and the other 90% lies below the surface. It’s that 90% that directly affects a company’s employee morale, productivity, and bottom line. A corporation often places its highest priority on how they are perceived by their consumer base, and therefore that 90% of company culture and values are either placed on the back burner, or corporations find themselves at a complete loss of how to get in front of the issues. 

The reason restructuring internally does not improve a company’s culture in the long-term is because the effects of a company’s culture are cyclical, and have nothing to do with the chain of command or employee hierarchy. The graphic above illustrates how a healthy company culture affects a company’s day-to-day operations

Happy Employees 

Some other band aid fixes for happy employees include things like discounted vending machines in the breakrooms, or regular celebrations of major holidays and birthdays. These lovely notions might improve culture for a day or even a week, but the pervasive internal problems will remain. 

Engagement 

Happy employees are engaged employees. When a corporation’s culture is healthy, employees feel invested in the success of their companies. The company’s success becomes internalized as their own success, and they are more likely to be plugged in, to take initiative, and to think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving. 

Improved Operations 

When employees are leaning into their positions and actively working towards a company’s goals, that leads to smoother daily operations. Engaged employees are constantly finding ways to improve their processes so they can generate higher rates of productivity within their positions 

Productivity 

When daily operations are streamlined, this yields higher levels of productivity within the company. An employee’s daily duties are no longer a monotonous checklist, but a recipe for success for their company. An engaged employee’s success is the success of everyone in the corporation, and the same is true of productivity. A single employee’s increased productivity is the entire company’s success. Not only does this set an example for all employees, but increased productivity is what helps a company grow, mature, and prosper. 

Happy Leadership 

This one is a no-brainer. Anyone who has ever been employed knows that a happy boss makes a happy employee. Leadership sees the increase in engagement and productivity and lean into that success. Good leadership will reward that success in tangible ways that will have long-term effects on the company’s culture. They promote or give raises to those employees who are giving 100%, empower those employees through collaboration and development, and are more open to the thoughts and ideas of employees who are contributing to their success. 

Morale 

When leadership is actively encouraging employees through a pure manifestation of the company’s mission and values, employees feel as if they are making a difference within their organization. This increases the feeling of purpose and desire for cooperative teamwork. These feelings inspire employees to continue their pattern of success through the diligent, genuine practice of a company’s established mission and values. Increased morale means happy employees, and that’s where the cycle begins anew, exponentially influencing a company’s success with each cycle. 

Structure is Not Culture 

The network of operations within a company will never have a direct effect on company morale. Poor daily operations due to structure are really just a symptom of unhealthy corporate culture—a manifestation of poor culture at work. To diagnose the problem, many corporations turn to independent firms to conduct corporate culture audits in order to identify the problems within a company or organization. These firms measure a company’s daily operations, their quality of communication, and interpersonal relations among employees—just to name a few factors. When a corporate culture audit is comprehensive and curtailed to the organization, the findings can be invaluable to leadership that seeks to grow and mature in tandem with their values. 

To Review…

 As mentioned above, employees who see a consistent display of established values from leadership, they’re more engaged and productive. It’s one thing to have the company’s mission statement and list of values posted online or on the wall within a workplace. It’s a completely different ballgame when leadership puts their money where their mouth is, and serves as an example for the entire workforce. That example can have a ripple effect creating an interpersonal trust between employees, in which they all feel like they’re on a team, working towards the same goal. It is in the nucleus of that atmosphere where real change and growth begin. 

8 Signs of Employee Apathy

8 Signs of Employee Apathy

How to tell if your employees have checked out…

Employee apathy may seem innocuous enough, but the costs to time and resources can be a slow, devastating drain on a corporation. Many corporations and organizations have at least one employee who exhibits all the major signs of checking out in their daily capacity. Even if your corporation has bulletproofed human resource operations, employee burnout can still occur. That’s why it’s imperative for leadership and management to know and identify the signs of apathy on the part of an employee.  

Signs of Employee Apathy

  • A repeated pattern of tardiness
  • Poor appearance and hygiene
  • Complaints about lack of money and/or repeated attempts to borrow money
  • Exclusive precedence on their personal life
  • An excess of breaks
  • Appearance of being busy with nothing to show for it
  • Lack of accountability, making excuses
  • Irrelevant preoccupation with cell phones, smart devices

It stands to reason that if an employee is underperforming at their job, leadership will cut the dead weight for the good of a corporation. There are actually three umbrella categories that are often used to justify retaining apathetic employees: Costs, Litigation, and Personal.

Costs

The first thing leadership will think of when they notice an apathetic employee is dollar signs. Not only is the apathetic employee hemorrhaging their money by wasting time and resources, but the cost to replace that apathetic employee can also be an issue. Costs are incurred to the human resources department to find, hire, and train a replacement. Employers might hesitate to fire an apathetic employee because of unemployment insurance rates. Another relevant factor specifically effects small businesses, in which the workforce is not large enough to support turnover operations.

Personal

When it’s not a matter of money, it can often be a matter of personal feelings or relationships concerning leadership and the apathetic employee. A manager or owner might have a personal relationship with the employee, and their bias prevents them from pulling the trigger on termination procedures. Personal knowledge of that employee’s personal life and their identity as a person (rather than an employee) can color their perceptions and increase their latitude with the employee. Avoidance behavior can also play a role. When this happens, leadership usually resigns itself to one of two end results: Either the employee will improve on their own without intervention from leadership, or they will leave on their own without termination proceedings.

Litigation

The independent judgement of leadership may not be the sticking point in terminating an apathetic employee. There are often legal factors that a corporation or organization must consider. For instance, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (AEDA) protects employees from being terminated based on their age. If an apathetic employee is of a certain age, leadership may fear legal retaliation, citing age discrimination as the reason for their termination. In higher education, an employee may have tenure as defined by the institution, which would prevent leadership from terminating them.

Risks in Retention

Retaining apathetic employees for any of the reasons listed above can have serious consequences for a company who is avoiding the issue or trying to save money. Apathetic/underperforming employees cannot provide a customer base with quality service, leading to dissatisfaction and consumer complaints. This can negatively impact the corporation’s brand or campaign, with a high risk of human error, loss of valued customers, and lost reputation. Disgruntled employees could potentially say negative things about the corporation on their social media accounts. Perhaps most concerning, apathetic employees can easily spread their attitude throughout a work force, and harm long-term goals for the corporation.

Corporate Culture Audits

One apathetic employee is enough of a drain on company time and resources, but if that attitude is contagious, you could have a larger problem on your hands. Unfortunately, when it comes to employee morale and performance, you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s why so many corporations and organizations are investing in quarterly or even biannual corporate culture audits. With a corporate culture audit, an independent, third party firm, like a private investigator or security company, conducts a full overview of company operations, structure, and environment in order to identify problems at their source for the health of the corporation. With a corporate culture audit, leadership will be able to identify factors that might be contributing to employee apathy.

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

A Nonprofit Background Check Can Save Your Organization

When putting together a team to supervise your money, it helps to know who you’re dealing with…

Nonprofit organizations can do great work in promoting community growth, providing assistance to those in need, and raising money to fund research in the name of bringing solutions to some of the globe’s most comprehensive issues. These organizations must be above reproach, and as such, their board members must be individuals of the highest integrity. That’s why it’s imperative nonprofit organizations establish policy that dictates board members are subjected to a comprehensive background check.

It’s true that there is no requirement for a nonprofit organization to establish a board of directors, but an overwhelming majority of nonprofits do so. This is often a necessity, as many banks will not establish an account for a nonprofit without supervisory leadership. Donors also consider this leadership essential to ensuring their donations are spent wisely and in the best interest of the cause. In addition, organizations that issue grants are more interested in nonprofits in which their monetary awards are also well-managed, due mostly in part to the fact they must answer for how their monies are allocated.  Small business journal, Chron, put it best, “The board’s duties are fiduciary. This means the board is trusted to act in the best interests of its organization, regardless of personal interest.”

A board of directors for a nonprofit is designed to promote progression within an organization by virtue of diverse management and comprehensive collaboration. Because an organization’s supervisory leadership can depend on their ability to serve their cause, that board must have impenetrable integrity. Therefore, even nonprofits cannot afford to skimp on background checks for leadership.

When establishing a board of directors, there are often misconceptions on what a comprehensive background check encompasses. The term “background check” is an umbrella term that can refer to one or all of a list of screening processes that both organizations and corporations use to verify the employability of an individual. This can include a report that offers details on a person’s criminal and employment history, and a review of their financial history.

A nonprofit background check is the first step in protecting your organization, but not every executive sees it that way. It’s not uncommon for nonprofits to cherry pick through the wide range of areas that a comprehensive background check includes, either to save time and/or money, or because only one or two areas of such a report are a priority for board leadership. Areas of high priority include criminal history, sex offender registry, or a basic credit report. Even if a nonprofit checked all of these boxes when conducting a background check, that would still not rise to the standard of comprehensive when verifying a potential board member’s history.

A comprehensive background check includes:

  • Verification of a candidate’s social security number
  • Work history
  • Credit check
  • Driving records
  • Criminal records
  • Information on registered vehicles
  • Relevant court documents
  • Reference quality
  • Asset ownership
  • Military service records
  • Criminal registry information, such as sex offender registry

This list can sound staggering to the member of staff charged with appropriating an organization’s policy to screen a board candidate’s background. Screening a candidate’s background requires thorough research and a cross-reference of information against multiple open sources, such as public records, human sources, and social media. Even if the cost of obtaining supporting documents were not high, the labor hours to internal employees with day-to-day responsibilities can directly contribute to operational losses within a nonprofit organization.

These comprehensive screenings are crucial to the integrity of a nonprofit. After establishing a board of directors, any previously unknown and unflattering information regarding their history that may come to light cannot only be embarrassing for an organization but can negatively impact the support and assistance those nonprofits receive from donors and grant-awarding bodies. If information regarding a red flag in a board member’s history was publicly available (and not sealed by a court of law, or expunged from their record), and negligence occurs on behalf of the board’s supervisory capacity, there can be legal consequences as well. This is why corporations often run comprehensive background checks on their board of directors, or any other supervisory leadership. If for-profit corporations cannot afford to skimp on their background checks, there is no-doubt that nonprofits have even more at stake, including the opportunity to serve their cause.

Operational losses are why it can be prudent to retain an independent investigator to conduct background checks for a nonprofit organization. Firms like those of private investigators or risk assessment specialists can provide another layer of integrity when considering a candidate for board leadership. An external investigator’s independence and autonomy mean they have no stake in the results of a board candidate’s screening, and therefore only have loyalty to the truth. This is where nonprofits can consider candidates with the reassurance they have performed their due diligence, and have done so with the assistance of an objective third-party. All background screenings must be compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act legislation in disclosing the screening to the candidate.

From poor credit to criminal history, no detail is too small when it comes to establishing a board of directors for a nonprofit. Nonprofits may have marketing campaigns, but board diversity and integrity are how they attract monies from grant entities and major donors. That is why a comprehensive background check is an investment for nonprofits that will provide the security of due diligence with the integrity of independent screening.

5 Cyber Security Measures Every Business Needs

Cyber criminals are evolving at an alarming rate. Cyber-security product developers are on an infinite loop with felons, each trying to out fox the other with regards to data breaches. Security is absolutely necessary for brick and mortar establishments due to a myriad of reasons, but in 2019, the name of the game is cyber-security. Not only are data breaches an efficient way to steal trade secrets and financial information from businesses, but they can also be done remotely. A proficient hacker or scammer can access a company’s vital company information from halfway across the world, and from that same location, can devastate the company. Within minutes, they can access financial information, trade secrets, distribution and delivery schedules, and private customer information. To prevent this from happening to your business, here are 5 cyber security measures every business should have:

Iron-clad Passwords

This is Internet 101. Since the birth of the World Wide Web, we’ve been educating adults and children alike on the importance of having a strong password to access online accounts. Whether it’s a company’s financial information, or a Grubhub app on an executive’s phone, thieves can crack weak passwords to gain access. As such, it’s important passwords never contain personal information about an individual, especially if that information is visible on social media. Parents often include the name of their kids in their passwords, using their dates of birth for any numerical value requirement. Teens and young adults use the name of their favorite animal, sport, or music artist. Another common tactic is using common words that are easy to remember, and then spelling them backwards for a false sense of security. Experts at the National Cyber Security Alliance also do not recommend using sequences of characters that are near each other on the keyboard, such as “QWERTY,” the first six characters of the keyboard. The current recommended length for strong passwords is between 8-12 characters. If you’re unsure whether or not you password is secure, use an online password checker to verify the passwords level of  cyber security.

Fortified Firewalls

Firewalls have been around almost as long as passwords. Firewalls are shields that protect your business from harmful or insidious traffic. When you connect to the internet, the system is constantly communicating with the wireless network, both sending and receiving units of information known as packets. Firewalls monitor these packets and perform a risk assessment, blocking unsafe packets. These firewalls protect your company’s data from unauthorized remote access by criminals.

Antivirus Protection

Roland Cloutier, the Chief Security Officer for ADP, calls antivirus software “the last line of defense” when protecting your company’s data from hackers and other cyber-criminals. Not only can remote criminals access and view a company’s vital information, but they can also install vicious malware that will copy the target’s hard drive, and subsequently render the machine inoperable. Installing anti-virus and anti-malware programs aren’t enough, though. These programs need to be updated regularly as part of the infinite loop mentioned earlier. Every time a criminal finds a way to bypass an anti-malware product, the product requires changes to combat those breaches.

Laptops and Mobile Phones

It’s important to secure laptop computers and mobile smartphones associated with your business. For this, experts recommend encryption software so any remote felon attempting to access or copy the hard drive cannot do so without the proper password. They also stress the importance of never leaving these devices in ones vehicle, where they are easily accessible to thieves. “Lock-out” options are also standard for these devices in 2019. This setting allows you to establish a time period during which the phone lies idle. After that period expires, the phone locks itself, preventing anyone from accessing it without the password. Smartphones and laptops with remote-wipe features must be enabled. This way, if your device falls into the wrong hands, you can remotely wipe the device and prevent the leak of sensitive company information.

Employee Education

Last, but never least, it’s important your workforce is educated on the security measures in place and regularly enforces them on a day-to-day basis. Companies often neglect employee education under the false impression their IT team will be able to resolve all issues whenever they arise. The fact is, even IT professionals cannot anticipate every cyber threat, and may not be up-to-date on the very latest in cyber-criminal tactics. An ounce of this education is worth a pound of cure—Despite the level of technology literacy in the United States in 2019, an employer or business owner cannot assume an employee’s level of security knowledge. The prevention starts with employees, providing them with an intimate knowledge of company operations and how cyber security measures protect them. 

Regardless of your company’s industry or size, all businesses must update and maintain their cyber security. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when criminals can bypass cyber security, and devastate a company in minutes.