Trust, but Verify
The Georgetown Group has conducted thousands of background investigations on prospective employees, business partners, expert witnesses, and others by scouring public records at the local, state, and federal levels. Recognizing that a great deal of information is still not available online, we track an individual’s address history back as far as possible and manually search old court indices for records that have not been digitized.
In addition to verifying information provided on a resume or a social media website, we look for indications that biographical facts may have been omitted to hide something such as a previous job from which someone was fired or a company that went bankrupt or was sued. Our experience has taught us that it is essential to compare information about someone from multiple streams of data - including databases, court records, media reports, and references – to construct a complete picture of them. Recognizing that supplied references generally won’t speak forthrightly, we look for the names of other people who also know the subject so that we can interview them too. Recognizing that people don’t often tell the truth for a variety of reasons, if we find a thread of information we follow it by looking for relevant public records or filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the appropriate government agency. We verify every aspect of someone’s professional background and look for licensing issues, disciplinary records, and complaints that may have been filed related to their professional conduct.
Conducting an Internet search using only the person’s name may easily miss something. We search the Internet using variations in the spelling of someone’s name (particularly if someone has been divorced), their current and former email addresses, telephone numbers, and residential addresses. We look in unusual places for information such as the U.S. Tax Court that hears disputes between the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers and where personal financial data is often made public.
Few things are as important as a comprehensive background investigation. More often than not, when a background investigation is not initiated before a business relationship has been initiated, facts later come to light that can cause serious legal and public relations problems. The Georgetown Group follows a simple rule: Trust, but verify.