January 2016
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Upcoming Eventsevents

In the Spring of 2016 the Indiana Society of Professional Investigators and the Indiana Association of Background Screeners will present a one-day seminar on "Problems and Pitfalls in Pre-employment Screening" at a venue and date to be announced soon. Don C. Johnson, of Trace Investigations, Bloomington and a founding member of INspi, and Mike McCarty, of Safe Hiring Solutions in Danville and a founding member of IABS, will be presenters. If you want to be on the email list for the seminar, contact us at info@traceinvestigations.com.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available. In this edition, we have addressed how Google is not an investigation and how to use search mechanics in evaluating online content.

The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact finding is an essential component. We will share what we have learned in our 30+ years as professional investigators and intelligence analysts.

We want to write about topics that will assist you in succeeding in your business endeavors . Please e-mail us your topics of interest to
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The Trace Team

art1 "Google is Not an Investigation"
That's a direct quote from a friend and colleague in Florida, legal investigator Jean Mignolet (www.mignolet.com), from one of her newsletters a few months ago. I couldn't agree more. Yes, Google offers probably the most robust search engine out there, but it's not the only one and it is not an investigation. It fact, you should always consider when and how you use it. We use it here in our investigations, of course, but it's only one tool in what has become an expansive toolbox in a digital world. Almost all technology companies that you interact with online collect and store information about you, and they can be forced to turn it over to the government. Google is now much more than a search engine; it is one of the largest data collection companies, if not the largest. Do you have a G-mail account? Google technology automatically collects information when you use your gmail. Here at Trace, we now use our domain emails almost exclusively, which are routed through a secure server with encryption capabilities. We use...Read More

art2 Unweaving the Web: Due diligence and the search mechanics in evaluating online content
We should never accept the results of an online search at face value, whether you are reviewing the results of a Google search or an online database offering access to court records. Due diligence requires a degree of care not readily apparent in the results a web site provides. We should always consider the human error factor and the search limitations on a particular site. There are three primary areas of consideration when reviewing and evaluating the results of an online court records database:
  1. The Search Mechanics. There are five search mechanics that we have to analyze;
  1. "Name Field" logistics. Are there wild cards? Is there a search help menu? If you get no hit by inputting first name, then last name, reverse the fields. Do not rush.
  2. "All Involved Parties" blocks. If a civil suit has multiple parties, either as plaintiff or defendant, you may not get any results on a full party name. Try first name(s) only. The New York statewide search on the civil index operates this way. There are others.
  3. "Multiple Case" types. Don't rely on the "All" box for checking all courts. Check them one at a time if your due diligence requires it.
  4. The DOB Field. Run the name search with and without a DOB. You could possibly find a missing middle initial or an address previously unknown.
  5. Subject Notification. Does the state law applicable to the site you are searching require that the subject of your search be notified of your inquiry? If your investigation is sub-rosa this can ruin it. Such notifications are often found in driver record searches. The AOCFastCheck courts record system in Kentucky requires this.
  1. Analyze the Viewable Data. How fresh is it? Does the site tell you...Read More