How to Verify Someone’s Identity

Every day, someone runs into an acquaintance that they haven’t seen in a long time. Sometimes, it’s an old friend from high school or someone you might have worked with at a previous job. Most of the time, these brief run-ins are pleasant moments, brief chances to let you catch up on news about old friends. But unfortunately, it’s possible that the acquaintance you’ve run into isn’t exactly who they say they are. That’s why it might be a good idea to verify someone’s identity before you really open up your life to them.

It takes more than a handshake and good intentions to establish trust and working relationships – it requires reliable information about the person you’re dealing with. can help fill in important personal – and easy to miss – details, whether it’s a simple address history to track down lost friends to a property or criminal history before initiating a business transaction.

Not all people searches give the same results. Basic address searches look up a current phone number and address; other searches focus on specific public records, such as registered sex offenders, criminal and civil court cases, or property and asset ownership. High-quality people search companies use nationwide records going back 10 to 15 years. A people search company provides information that you can use to make important decisions more safely and with better peace of mind. Know what to search for, so that you get the information you need:

What are you looking for?

What search includes that information?

What kind of personal information do you need to provide?

Situation 1: Business

There are a variety of business situations where it is important to verify a person’s identity and credibility in advance, especially in two commonly-overlooked areas:

Before hiring a contractor, check if he has a history of bankruptcies, claims against his work, or tax liens – all indications that his business integrity is not worth your investment. Since a contractor will spend a lot of time around your home and family, do a criminal or sex offender background check.

When you buy a big-ticket item online, like a car or jewelry, make sure that the seller is who they claim to be (address history) and legitimately owns those items (asset search). A good idea may also be to run a criminal background check, to look for red flags like fraud or theft convictions.

Situation 2: Online Dating

Online dating has become main-stream, but it is still difficult to determine someone’s honesty through pixels and email. Any kind of people search can help identify potential problems; the more in-depth searches offer even more peace of mind:

Address history. An address history is a starting point that sketches in a person’s background by checking if they live were they say they do; if a person claimed to go to Columbia University, it may be helpful to know if he ever actually lived in New York. A good people search company reports on the last 10 years.

Criminal background. The first rule in dating is safety, and a simple criminal background check (including a sex offender search) is one form of protection.

Marriage and divorce records. Most search companies don’t do a nation-wide search by default, so specify which states to check. If an address history reveals that someone has lived in Tampa, Chicago, and Portland, check marriage/divorce records for Florida, Illinois, and Oregon.

Asset checks. Most problems in relationships come from money. An asset check looks for property and businesses owned by a person, major assets like boats, bankruptcies, and civil judgments.

Situation 3: Reconnecting

Most people have considered tracking down a childhood friend, sweetheart, or military buddy, so it’s natural that the most common type of people search is an address history. A first step may be a fast white pages search using a name and address, but most people move several times over their life time, and frequently change their names, such as a woman taking her husband’s name or a person going by their middle name or nickname.

A people search company, unlike telephone white pages, doesn’t need current information to find somebody because they cover multiple databases that include old records. A competent people search company will be able to locate almost anyone by searching a variety of resources – public records, military records, even boat ownership. The more information you can supply, the easier the location search is, but you only need to know three things for a people search company to initiate a search:

Name (first and last, even a maiden name or alias)

Any city the person has lived in (not necessarily their current address)

Approximate age (an option to help narrow results)

For instance, a person may know that Martha Smith lived in Bakersfield in 1994. Using a combination marriage records and old phone directories, the people search company can identify her as Martha Jones living in San Mateo in June 2007.

Published on: July 16, 2010 by Dan Cohn
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