Investigators Improve Service Results

Private Investigators often assist Process Servers

Investigators Assist to Improve Service Results

Private Investigators often assist Process ServersAt Michigan Civil Process Service, being part of the Advanced Surveillance Group comes with some unique benefits that are not afforded to most process service firms.  The ability to walk down the hallway of our office and ask one of our investigators for some assistance when a field server suspects that an address is incorrect or needs help identifying the person we are attempting to serve almost always provides better results and happier clients.  This was never more of the case than just this past week when we were asked to serve a young woman who had the tendency to move around from home to home frequently.  The initial field attempts yielded little information as to where she was staying.  The addresses we were furnished were no longer associated to her or her family leaving our server with no further options.  Our client agreed that having our team of investigators take a quick look at the file would be the best option.  After less than an hour, we had two additional addresses for the woman (her mother’s home and the residence of her new boyfriend as found on social media).  We also identified her vehicle, found images of her and noted some distinguishing tattoos that could be used to differentiate her from her sister of similar ages.  It didn’t take more than one attempt to locate the young woman’s vehicle at her mom’s house.  Even better was when the woman came to the door and claimed that she was NOT our girl!  The problem was that her very noteworthy tattoos gave her away and the server was quick to point that fact out to her.  Needless to say, the woman was not pleased, but accepted service none the less.  Not every case required a trained investigative eye, but it is always good to know that the option is there to provide additional server to our clients when things get tough in the field.

If you would like us to take advantage of our service or have a particularly challenging target that you need tracked down and served, please give us a call!

– Chrissy Puckett, Lead Expediter at Michigan Civil Process Service

Database Searches Part 2

investigative database searches

Database Searches:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Part 2

Ensuring you are paying for an investigation, not a search

The Good: Nowhere else will you find this much information compiled on one person, in the world.  These database searches make a point of being as comprehensive as possible so that they can be your “one-stop shop”.  We have found that the various database searches have their own strengths and weaknesses which is why we utilize several of these platforms in conjunction to make sure we have the best starting data to begin our investigations.

investigative database searchesDepending on the investigation we are conducting, will determine the database searches we use and what information we search for.  In asset searches, we are worried about gathering a comprehensive residential history for a subject in order to search local records to determine if they own any real property, or if they recently sold or transferred their holdings.  In a locate investigation we like to know what address the person is most recently associated with, where their vehicles are registered, and where their driver’s license is registered.

Databases:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Bad: It is important to understand that, in many platforms, the database search results will change based on the search terms.  If you simply run a Social Security Number, the results will only provide items that are matched to that SSN.  If there are public records, like criminal records, tied to just a person’s name and date of birth, these will not be present in a report run by SSN alone.

We have also had records incorrectly associated to our subjects.  If an investigator had not performed the search and followed the necessary steps to verify the information, the client could be misled in the process.  Some information has nothing but a name associated with it, and if two subjects’ share the same name and have resided in the same, large apartment building this information could be associated with both people, but only really belong to one of them.

Databases:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Ugly: Depending on who is running the database searches, the platform used, and the search terms used the report will vary wildly.  When your search is complete, you are provided a report that can be anywhere from 50 to 500 pages long.  Some companies will simply put their cover page on top of this data report and sell it as a “background check” or an “asset search” and mark up the price 500-1,000%.  Do not let this exchange of data pass as an actual investigation.  It will leave you with more questions than answers and ultimately have you running back to the investigator asking for more work, that should have been done in the first place.

 

 

Database Searches Part 1

Database Searches

Database Searches:  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Part 1

Ensuring you are paying for an investigation, not a search

Database SearchesDatabase searches are the starting point for any investigation but it is important to know that these searches, and the underlying data, have numerous benefits and downfalls.  In order to help our clients understand these services better, we have completed a two-part series to explain the reasons why an actual investigator is used in our investigations, rather than relying on database searches to conduct “investigations”. 

 Understanding Databases

Database searches like Lexis-Nexus, IRB, Tracers Info and Thompson Reuters provide a variety of data that has been collected through credit header information, public records and privately-sold data.  Like we mentioned in the interlude, these services are a great starting point when you begin an investigation.  They compile all of this data into a large report on an individual based on the user-provided search criteria.

The main data sources include addresses, Social Security Numbers, dates of birth, associated people, vehicles (when available), watercraft, professional licenses, court liens and judgments, court records, arrest records, department of corrections information, associated people and presumed relatives.  Through our experience, we have found that depending on the data you are looking for, the information used to search for it, determines the outcome.  When you go to the Secretary of State they do not ask for your SSN, but instead the use your date of birth, address and name.  The same can be true to all of these data points; some use name only, some name and date of birth, and others use other combinations.

Understanding How Databases Help Investigators

Once a database search is run by an investigator, it will provide leads to point us in the right direction.  In an asset search, the information of where a subject has lived will then lead the investigator to the local departments who will have records of who owns the property, when the latest mortgage was pulled and the last time the deed was recorded.  All of these pieces of information could have a bearing on our client’s case, but are something that may or may not be present in a database search.

In other types of investigations databases can play a bigger or smaller role in our work.  For instance, if a client is looking to serve a witness for litigation, we would only need their residential history and motor vehicle registration information to begin our work.  In a background investigation, we may need far more data to give us indications of where to look for records outside of the person’s areas of residence.

Locating contact information for members of a class action lawsuit is specialized work

Although it is true that almost every private investigator advertises that they can help locate people, the work involved in locating a large number of people involved in a class action lawsuit who can be spread out both geographically and in terms of socioeconomic background is specialized work, not the work of generalists. The average private investigator, even those who are trained and experienced in locating people, will struggle to capture a complete group involved in a class action lawsuit and will undoubtedly take far more time than necessary and charge you a premium for that time.

What many fail to appreciate is the difficulty involved in locating members of a class. This is especially true when the connection between them is years or even decades old and the information scarce. Then when one adds in elements like common names, unknown dates of birth or relatives and the rapid way that people change locations, you quickly realize that few have the depth of resources to locate contact information for members of a class action suit. class-action-locate

What all PIs offer is essentially their access to some database of public records and credit header information. They run these basic searches and pawn that off as an actual investigation. Usually these searches cost them pennies to run and both incomplete and inaccurate. They tend to have few if any resources beyond these databases. Accordingly the client ends up with absolute minimum information available and unknowingly loses many members of the class.

At ASG, we have a specialized team dedicated to large scale locates specifically for a class action lawsuit.

We encourage you to contact us and let our experts explain exactly why locating contact information for members of a class action lawsuit is specialized work and how we can help save yo time and money in your search. Chances are, we have direct experience in conducting the exact type of search you are looking to have done.

Give someone access to an on-line database and they instantly become a Due Diligence Investigator

When conducting investigations, primarily background checks and due diligence investigations,professional investigators find that they are one part of a larger team. The team is usually driven by outside counsel who are joined by accountants and or investment analysts and periodically a banker or two. This all makes sense, with each having their own role, and the professional investigator is the perfect fit to address those non-financial elements that need to be verified, uncovered or quantified. “Reputational” due diligence concerning not only the businesses reputation, but also the key players and owners is the perfect place to deploy the professional investigator. Head in the sand

Sadly, as more of the other M & A team members subscribe to records databases, the more they fancy themselves as actual investigators. They take information presented in those databases and rely on it as gospel. Their can also be a sense that these databases are so good that they are an actual investigation all by themselves. This is where things get dangerous. Those databases are a great tool, even a good starting point, but the are far from accurate or complete and they lack much of the meaningful, significant information that tells the real story.

Get the whole story, not the due diligence fairy tale

Due diligence is as much an art as it is a science, and clearly data in databases, even those labeled as “investigative”, is deeply rooted in the science camp. Reliance on same is truly way to short change your due diligence in terms of accuracy and completeness. It also increases the risk of both making or passing on an investment while taking on a false sense of security. It seems to fall under the “action taken, confidence instilled” concept rather than reality.

Not only should any M & A due diligence team include the use of a professional investigator, it should include the “right” professional investigator. For more information about how expert professional investigators can help protect your investment decisions, please contact one of our team at (855) 997-2800.

Using the Right Private Investigator is More Important Than Ever!

Hiring the Right Private Investigator

private-investigator-badgeAs big data grows and more and more records are collected, filtered and examined, the greater the risk that using an expert who is sub-par in any way can endanger your case. More and more mistakes, embellishments and character issues arise each year as access to a great and more comprehensive collection of data about all of us becomes accessible to more people. Your private investigator is no exception.

In the past, simple prior job experience with an law enforcement agency or respected PI firm would ordain a private investigator as competent and accredited. Now it simply opens that experience up to scrutiny as specific case they worked on, trial outcomes and public missteps are located within the experience and used to discredit them. Even true experts like those in the forensics sciences are finding that they very methods they have been trained in are under attack.

Accordingly, it is essential to work with a private investigative agency that can be vetted in detail and can explain each step they take during the course of their investigation and the appropriateness of those steps. Gone are the days of simply seeing someone is a former Federal Agent or Police Officer and having that be sufficient.

We Can Help

For more detailed information on what to examine when determining if an investigative agency is able to pass intense scrutiny and examination, please contact our team. We would be happy to discuss your matter and what to look for, and as always, the call is strictly confidential.

Paralegal Using Detroit Private Investigator

 

detorit paralegalAcknowledging our clients and the pleasure we derive from being able to serve a community is very important to us. In today’s legal environment, we find that many times, the paralegals are the ones who end up doing lots of the heavy lifting. Part of their tasks can often include engaging the right professional investigator. As a paralegal using a Detroit private investigator, you face the challenge of finding an agency with the right mix of expertise, professionalism and price. At ASG, we strive to be a leader in the investigative service space and in particular in the litigation support role that many private investigators are simply not familiar with.

Some of the services that we provide for paralegals and litigators include locating people, conducting asset searches, interviewing witnesses, securing records and evidence, conducting surveillance and of course preparing background checks and conducting due diligence. As our paralegal client base has grown, we have truly come to appreciate what paralegals do and how valuable and skilled they are. We solute those paralegals in the Detroit area who choose us and who are such exceptional stewards to their firm’s clients.

 

 

Investigating impeachment information on adversary witnesses

640-01348414 Model Release: Yes Property Release: No Close-up of a witnesses hand swearing over the Bible

Investigating impeachment information on adversary witnesses can produce critical information that can make a material difference in a case.

What many high level commercial litigators know is that more information is always better, particularly when that information can help derail a critical adversary witness. The real trick is knowing where to go to get that information. Every law firm has in-house staff to help with research and in some cases even investigators on staff, but what these resources offer is much different than that which a dedicated private investigative agency who focuses exclusively on perfecting deep background checks can.

At ASG, ourlegal support is comprised of specialists who focus on one individual area of a background check. This is all they do and, as such, can produce superior results in a cost effective manner. The depth of our team and their cross supporting team approach produce better actionable intelligence, every time.

In short, you can get the maximum possible information with which to impeach an adversary witnesses quickly and very affordably with one phone call.

ASG Hones Expertise in Locating Heirs of Litigants in Long Running Class Action Suits

Large, long running class action litigation, particularly in matters concerning asbestos or mesothelioma claims often results in plaintiffs passing away before a settlement can be reached. Over the past five years, ASG has continued to grow its large scale locate practice group as more of these complicated and important types of locate investigations have arisen. In many of these cases, plaintiff’s counsel has had to make reasonable efforts in locating heirs of litigants in long running class action suits and to show the courts proof of their diligence. At ASG, our team is able to conduct extensive, detailed searches for heirs and relatives quickly and cost effectively.

As private investigators who are specialists in this area, we can quickly sort through the often endless leads that can come up in generalized data bases, locate real contacts among them, use a myriad of additional resources that are difficult if not impossible to do “in-house” and typically produce contacts with the next of kin approximately 70% of the time.

Locating large numbers of people from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and even across national borders is beyond the capability of most investigative agencies. Doing it quickly and accurately and a price point that no one can argue with is even more rare. If your firm is interested in seeking assistance with missing litigant investigations, litigant kin investigations, living heir research or probate entitlement investigations, we urge you to call us today.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Are Better Off Having A Private Investigator Take Witness Statements

For many lawyers, the determination of who and how to take witness statements is made more for convenience sake than for optimum outcome in their case. Some of the choices that drive this decision making include where the witness(es) are physically located, what statements or reports have they already made or even the idea that it may be cost prohibitive to have a professional do it. Instead of using a private investigator, they will often ask a paralegal to take witness statements, skip the statement and simply subpoena the witness to attend a deposition or worse yet, just go without the witness statement at all. Rather than go this route, we recommend that you consider our top 5 reasons why you are better off having a private investigator take witness statements for you:witness canvassing

  1. Trained, professional private investigators can take a better statement than most. Many private investigators have years and years of experience in taking statements. They know how to avoid the common pitfalls and they understand what it takes to get someone to become comfortable, to let their guard down and to open up and give complete information. The best have also undergone professional training in witness statement taking.
  2. Private investigators can find witnesses faster and cheaper than the attorneys and paralegals. This specialized area, commonly known as “skip tracing”, allows the trained private investigator to find witnesses quickly and will save you time and money. Think about all the people who “stay” someplace for awhile and move on, those who were a witness and in the area at that time, but who do not live or work near the scene, the list gores on and on.
  3. A private investigator will be able to conduct a background check on the witness to determine if they are related to a party in the matter, if they have a history of criminal behavior and crimes of dishonesty, to even see what the witness has posted about the matter on social media or otherwise help determine if the witness if fit to provide accurate testimony. In some cases, this crucial step can make all the difference in your case.
  4. The private investigator is an impartial party and their involvement helps to bolster the credibility of the statement.
  5. Going straight to the subpoena route can backfire. Without some preliminary vetting, you can end up taking the deposition of a crazy person who will turn on your client, a person who is actually connected to a party and will testify in a manner that helps or protects their connection and lastly, for the average person, the act of being subpoenaed is scary and upsetting, leading them to harbor resentment or confusion that can affect their testimony negatively.

For assistance with obtaining reliable witness statements, we urge you to contact our investigative team. We are here to help and will be able to demonstrate how we can add value to your case before you decide to engage us.