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How to Conduct an International Background Check

Posted On   date19/06/2014

How to Conduct an International Background Check

There are a variety of reasons to conduct an international background check. Businesses get them when hiring new employees as part of due diligence, to lower their risk for fraud, scams and misrepresentation. Many lawyers complete them during litigation to help back their side or negate their opponent. And then there are a variety of personal reasons like when children, significant others and issues of trust are involved. Not to mention when you meet someone on the Internet.  It used to be that these reasons all remained domestic but in a world with growing technology, it is easy to connect one country to another — placing more demand on true international background check firms.

The FBI can do it for me, right?  Wrong

The FBI can’t do international background checks on your behalf.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation does not conduct background check investigation for private citizens or companies.  At best, you may be able to check criminal records with the FBI, but this is in no way a background check or actual investigation.  Bin Laden himself had no “criminal records”.  The true risk and proper background check is something entirely different than merely checking criminal records.  This is about verify if a person is who he or she claims to be, and properly mitigating your risk and delivering evidence, so you can make a clear and informed decision.  Checking criminals is only a part of the puzzle, especially in countries outside the U.S.

Somehow a myth got started that a person’s criminal history was public information.  This may be somewhat true in the U.S. if you’re checking your own records, but to get this information on another person, you’ll have to dig a deeper.   In developing countries criminal and court records are not so easy to obtain or verify, especially if you don’t speak the language or have contacts in those courts in foreign countries!  Need to check for any criminal records, court or litigation history on a person in Russia, Brazil, China or Romania?  You better contact a professional with expert investigators located in those countries.  If the company does not have investigators on the ground where you need them, do keep shopping!

International background checks: Not about crime

International background checks aren’t always about criminals. No, international background checks are about protecting each person in a world that isn’t just one country deep anymore. The mobility of each citizen across international borders prevents domestic background checks from always being sufficient now. No one wants to be the example when information gets missed.

The importance of international background checks is being talked about all over the world.  Edward Snowden’s employers with they would have done a better background check investigation. According to a quote given in a recent webinar on hiring risk, “it is no longer adequate to conduct these checks just in the United States.” Another conference held in Oregon in March hosted a booth promoting international background checks. The conference was held for teachers of students who speak languages other than English. International private investigators have known for a long time that with globalization, people are now spending time and working in many different countries.  More companies are hiring candidates from other countries or international work experience?  How do you know the CV or resume is accurate?

How do you know the person is telling the truth about his or her background in Malaysia or the Ukraine, for example?  You don’t.  You’ll need a professional investigator with skills and local resources.

Private investigators are the way to go

So how can international background checks be properly run? For starters, you may want to consider finding a private investigator with international experience, training and resources, and a team on the ground where you need them.  The last thing you want is to pay a Human Resources person to play private detective, and make phone calls and search the web, and charge you for a so-called “investigation”.  No, if you are serious about protecting yourself or your company, you’ll need an actual investigator with proper training.

An international private investigator is the smartest way to go, especially if you are looking to be thorough and need clear evidence. These individuals are trained in obtaining the information you need. If you are preparing for a business merger, doing your due diligence could save you millions. Do not skimp on knowing everything possible – having the correct information can save you from disaster.

Be sure to contact experts in the field to determine exactly what kind of background check will suit your needs. Plenty of providers out there will claim to use global databases to put together a report.  But, there is no global database!  You cannot check criminal records in Guatemala or Peru if you don’t have someone local to check those court records for you.  You cannot verify the reputation of an individual in China, France or Egypt if you don’t have someone there doing the research.  You cannot verify if a factory exists in India, Ghana, Malaysia or Nigeria, if you don’t have someone in that country who can verify the business registration, visit and photograph the facilities.  You cannot verify a Colombian passport, birth certificate or ID is authentic if you do not have contacts in the country and you speak Spanish.  The list goes on.

If you find that you have research needs that extend beyond U.S. borders, reach out to a private investigation firm that specializes in international background checks. These companies will go above and beyond what is on a sheet of paper to find the true answers behind the people you are investigating.

In a world full of fraud and scams, its smart to verify.

C. Wright
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