Background checks on individuals or company’s? – 10 key steps to conducting corporate intelligence checks yourself
In business we are constantly forming new relationships and are introduced to new people and organisations. Before you agree to work with an individual or company it’s beneficial to run a few basic background checks.
Step 1 – The Name
For companies, this is a simple process of checking online with the corporate regulator. In Australia this is the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. New Zealand companies can be checked with the New Zealand Companies Office and the same can be done at the UK Companies Office.
Type in the exact name from the correspondence you have. These searches also reveal other useful information, like the year of incorporation, the registered office and if the registration is still valid.
For individuals, I recommend typing the persons name into Google with quote marks around the first and surname. For example if you were searching for the name Andrew Firth. I would search for “Andrew Firth” in quote marks. It’s also useful to try and locate a person by also adding in the name of the persons business, industry, or assumed residence e.g. “andrew firth sydney” or “andrew firth accountant”. Other places that can be used to verify a person is the LinkedIn website or Facebook.
Step 2 – Tax, GST or VAT Number Search
A tax number search is a basic yet effective method of tracking individuals, companies and other unincorporated entities. Online searches can be conducted either with the entities tax number of by simply typing in the person or company’s name.
Step 3 – The Trusty Phone Book
The online Whitepages or Yellow Pages can still be a very useful tool to find a persons address and phone number. This can be cross matched to the results of other searches. Online phone books work best where the persons surname is not common and you know the State or area where they are located.
Step 4 – Reverse Phone Number Searches
If you have a company or individuals phone number, I recommend typing this into Google with the area code enclosed in quote marks. For example if the phone number was (02) 9954 6200, then type “02 99546200” in quote markets. Also try the same search with the space removed e.g. “0299546200”. Using Google in this way is like using a reverse telephone directory. You will be surprised what can turn up! It’s also entirely legal unlike a real reverse telephone directory.
Step 5 – Electoral Role Searches
Most electoral commissions allow you to search their registers or electoral roles for a small fee. Google “electoral commission” to find the website for your location.
Step6 – Real Property Searches
If you have the address of a person, you can obtain the Transfer Deeds and other documents through the governments Land Titles Office. In Australia these are State based and the web addresses can be found through Google. These records provide very valuable information that may be difficult to find elsewhere.
Step 7 – Google Street View
You’ve probably used Google Street View to look at houses for sale, however it is also a great investigative tool and can be used to view a photo of the target’s address or determine if the address is commercial or residential.
Step 8 – Court Records
Court records can provide key insights into a person or company. Run a Google search for court records and the location you are interested in to find the right resource for you.
Step 9 – Media Searches
A Media Search can be a key source of information in particular cases but for many people they can come up empty. Make a judgement call depending on the profile and background of the person or company involved.
Step 10 – Verify personal details with Professional Associations
Recently I was looking at forming a new venture with an individual and at the last minute I decided to check that the individual was a member of the CPA as had been disclosed on the persons business card and CV. On checking with the CPA, I found that the individual was not a current member of the CPA and hadn’t been for around 20 years. Verifying this one detail made me reassess the venture with the individual (which didn’t proceed). Even though I’m a professional investigator, I nearly made a basic and potentially costly mistake. Remember never to accept what is presented to you at face value and always make enquiries to satisfy yourself that you know who you are dealing with. If you are interested in some red flags to look out for then read a recent article I wrote on the matter.
And if you are still not satisfied…Hire a Private Investigator
It may seem an extreme suggestion however if you wish to know what the target is actually up to then the use of Private Investigator can be a great investment. You can request photo’s, audio, or video and the Private Investigator can give you real time surveillance that is unattainable through other means. Rushmore Forensic often uses Private Investigators on investigations and outsources the enquiries to a network of investigators across Sydney and Australia. Please contact us for further information on corporate intelligence, background checks and other forensic accounting matters.
About the Author
Andrew Firth is a Forensic Accountant in Sydney and Director of Rushmore Forensic. He has over 12 years experience in financial investigations, corporate intelligence and aspects of forensic accounting. Andrew is based in Sydney and provides forensic accounting services throughout Australia. If you have a matter which requires expert advice, please don’t hesitate to contact Andrew Firth for a complimentary and confidential discussion.