Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the questions we get asked quite often, and our answers to them.

Yes, a license is definitely required in Texas. The Private Security Bureau of the Texas Department of Public Safety is the regulatory agency that licenses Private Investigators in Texas. They have a fairly good website for information on licensing located at: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/psb/
Basically, to obtain a company license in Texas, a person must: Pass a background check, Have verified experience in investigations, Pass a test on the laws affecting investigators, Have insurance/bonds, and more. Texas also requires continuing education to renew a license.
That is kind of like asking "what auto dealer sells the best cars?"
It all depends on what you are looking for.
Even with the extreme size of the internet, don't believe the media hype of "you can find anything on the net." There is no one shop stop for public records or information online. Not all public records (not even 10% of all public records) are available online.
The best bet is to start with a search engine like google.com and search for the particular type of public record you want and the area (location) it would cover. For example: Marriage Records in Houston Texas.
PI's have thousands of sites bookmarked, specialized databases, thousands of phone numbers indexed, and hundreds of contacts listed that we have to use to get public records. If it was as easy as just using the internet, our job would be so easy, and most people would not need PIs.
If it's a government agency or the police tapping your line, and they are doing it legitimately (with a court order, etc.), then there is no way you can find out until they arrest you with evidence they received that way. These types of taps are done at the telephone company's substations or switching stations and are nowhere near your home. There is no way to detect these sort of taps.
If it's an amateur or non-governmental tap, you MAY be able to detect it. Trace every phone line in and outside your house from the pole. Look for any splices or strange devices/boxes. If you find something, call the phone company. They'll identify it for you.
Also if you received a phone as a gift or prize, it might be a phone with a built in transmitter.
If you use a cordless or handheld phone, it is transmitting info to the world and a good scanner (professional model) can pick them up. Even the 900Mhz "frequency jumping" cordless phones are not totally secure.
You may need to hire a professional Counter-Surveillance (TSCM) agency to check your home out. Expect to pay at least $3000 to have your home checked, and this should take two-three people at least 8 hours. If the person you hire comes with only a small single piece of equipment, you will not be getting full service. The equipment needed to attempt detect taps takes alot of equipment. And even after all this, you still may not find anything.
Those programs are worth less than the cost of a blank cd. You would have better luck by using Yahoo or Google and searching for "Criminal Records".
Criminal background searches cannot be done thoroughly solely by computer, even the FBI's fabled NCIC system is not complete. Think of how many rural areas there are in the country that don't have their records computerized, in fact some some barely have fax machines.
Your best bet is to conduct an in-person search of each of the counties or jurisdictions where the person lived and worked, it's usually free or incurs a small court cost. Sometimes this can be done by mail for a small cost, and rarely can be done by phone. A few jurisdictions have web access, but that is less than about 25% of the over 10,000 jurisdictions in the US, and even those may have many limitations (i.e. only prison convictions, only a few years worth, etc)
Best bet would be to ask him.
Second choice would be to hire a professional investigator to do a background search.
You'll need to specify what kind of information you want, etc. Depending on how old the person is, and whether or not he has been married recently, it might be hard to discover who his parents are or where he was born. But then again it might be remarkably easy.
The first place to look would be local marriage records & birth certificates. If he was married locally, the certificate may list his parents names and his place of birth. If he was born locally, well you'll know where he's from then. Also discovering a person's Social Security Number may be an indication on where the person is from. It'll at least tell you where the person was when the SSN was issued.
These are just a few of the ways information is developed from public records.
Although good interview techniques are a part of the entire process, background checks may provide the employer with information regarding the prospective employee's history of suing their employers, criminal activity, or personal financial mismanagement. We believe that people are victims of scams because they do not take the time to properly research available records.
Security departments are just that, security, and are designed to protect the physical facility and assets. There is a dramatic difference in the expertise of security and investigators. Security is their main job and they do not have the proper resources, manpower or experience to handle investigations.
In addition, many companies utilize outside investigative agencies for liability reasons. When internal investigations are needed, most employees recognize security personnel and may have developed relationships with them. It is therefore important to obtain outside, unbiased investigative resources.
Court cases have demonstrated that employers who fail to provide a safe working environment are liable to their staff when something occurs that could have been prevented if reasonable efforts would have been taken to prevent this. And with numerous instances of courts applying the "Negligent Hiring Doctrine" against businesses that either did not have a background check done or had an inferior (online) check done, it is a losing proposition.
Lets face it, this is a society of individuals just waiting on the opportunity to sue. Why give them the chance?
The question is, "can you afford NOT to conduct background checks?"
Why work to build a business, just to have it placed in jeopardy without reason?