So What’s the Difference Between Background Checks and Investigations?

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By Tim Santoni, President, Santoni Backgrounds & Screening

Every industry has its inside language or jargon, and the investigations business is no exception. Knowing what we mean when we say certain things can make all the difference. We often see clients who mix up the terms “background check” and “investigation.” So, since we’re always trying to add extra value, we thought we’d put it out there so everyone knows the important differences between these services.

The most common type of background check is the Pre-Employment Background Check. This check requires written authorization by the job applicant along with a permissible reason to conduct the check such as being a condition of employment. This check must follow the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and must adhere to local and state laws. At the conclusion of this background check, a copy must be given to the employee. The scope and depth of a pre-employment background check is typically limited to criminal records and sometimes they involved verification of education and employment. They can be completed in 24-48 hours or less and the typical cost is $35.00 – $75.00.

The second type of background check is a Due Diligence Background Check. This is something that an attorney may do during a merger or when a company is thinking of acquiring another company. These do not require authorization but may be authorized as part of the transaction. The work here involves looking at assets and liabilities as well as the executive team’s background. Sometimes this involves looking into positive or negative media coverage and situations. Really during these checks, we are looking for anything that could impact the value of the pending transaction. The Due Diligence Background Check is not limited in scope and will uncover everything from criminal cases to civil cases going back as far as possible. These types of investigations usually take a few days and run anywhere from $395.00 to over $1,000.00.

The third type of background check is a Legal Background Check. This is done when we need a lot of detailed information about a defendant, plaintiff, or witness to be deposed. The work includes looking at criminal records (State & Federal), civil records (State & Federal), driving records, consumer public filings (bankruptcies, judgments & liens), professional licenses, business affiliations/ownership as well as social media channels. As with the Due Diligence Check, this check does not require authorization and is conducted discreetly without the subject learning that it is being conducted. The Legal Background Check usually takes a few days but can be expedited when necessary. The cost is anywhere from $350.00 to $750.00 or more depending on how many counties the subject has lived in and how deep the client wants to go.

So those were the background checks. Now, Legal Investigations are generally more broad and can involve any number of variables as it relates to a particular case. This research-based work is usually a very detailed examination to ascertain the truth regarding some aspect of a legal case. Legal Investigations can involve but are not limited to the following.

Surveillance & Activity Checks
Asset & Liability Investigations
Locate / Skip-Trace Investigations
Interviews / Statements
Scene Investigations
Evidentiary Buys / Undercover Buys
Computer & Cell Phone Forensics

And there you have it! As we’ve seen so many times, success or failure in the courtroom or settlement process depends on having the very best, most detailed information. That’s why great attorneys and law firms across the country work with the worldwide team of Santoni Investigations who will ensure you know everything to make the right decisions and maximize the settlement process or win your case in court!

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