Monday, December 18, 2006

Background Checks Could Offer Protection When Dating Online

If you’ve ever struggled with whether to do a background check on the person you’ve met online, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are single, and you no longer need to leave your comfort zone to find a date. People are meeting in chat rooms, through online date matching services, and classified listings. Sending pictures through email seems like a great idea, until you’re the recipient of a picture of what your date wishes they look like, instead of what they really look like. You may also find that there are married people using the internet to find affairs without being seen around town, and keeping you unaware of their marital status.

Generally speaking, if you meet a person in a traditional dating scene such as a bar, club, bowling alley, or a dog park (yes, it happens), people can give us different feelings, right off-the-bat. The guy who walks up to a woman and feeds her a cheesy line has probably been doing it all night, and still no success. Some people may give you the warm-fuzzies, while others just plain give you the creeps. These are signs we can only see (or feel) in person. People can write anything online about themselves, and yet reading those words on the screen gives us a sense of having gotten to know a person through their words. The fact of the matter is, most people – even honest people – tend to hold back things that embarrass them. We candy-coat the truth, sweep secrets under the carpet, and stuff the closet with skeletons when we describe ourselves online.

With meeting people over the internet, we lose the ability to establish a first impression. Worse yet, our first face-to-face meeting could be tainted by information that was fed to us without facial expressions, body language, or even a “vibe” we get from people when we talk in person. This can distort a person’s view of who they are meeting, and our mind tries to match up everything we think we know about the person with the face we are seeing. We complain if our mother sets us up with a blind date, yet we have no qualms about setting ourselves up on them. Sometimes this unawareness sets us up for identity theft, among other potential dating dangers.

On the internet, we can hide behind a fa├žade that we create; perhaps making ourselves out to be the person we wish we were. The person on the other end of the chat is most likely doing the same thing, although they have the unique opportunity to become the person you want them to be. Sometimes we are trying so hard not judge people in a bad way, and we forget not to judge people in a good way either. Just look at how many people are getting their selves into a bad situation because they trusted someone, thinking they were a good person. We can’t automatically assume that someone is a “good person”, yet it’s a mistake almost all of us make. If you think that doing a background check on a potential dating partner is wrong, think again. When you meet a person online, just as when you meet them in person, they could be hiding anything.

Technorati tags:
, , , , ,

Friday, December 08, 2006

Finding People with Common Names

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and search for someone from your past, but don’t know where to start? Let’s first start with how much you know about the person. Before you contact any search company, start out by making a list of all the information you know about the person. This means everything you know whether you think it will make a difference or not.

Let’s take a look at what type of information you might have, and how it can help you find who you are looking for. Start with their name, and write down all possible names or name combinations the person may have used. For example, a man named Richard Johnson could use quite a few variations of his name, such as Rick, Ricky, RJ, Rich, Richey, Dick, or even RJ. If you knew the parents, what did they call him? How about friends or co-workers? Sometimes people have a formal name they use for business and work, but a less formal nickname that their friends and family used. In that case, there would be several names you could use to find him. On the other hand, you’ll want to gather even more information if the name is quite common, such as the example we’ve chosen.

When searching for a common name, the name variations can be a big help, but knowing some other key pieces of information can bring you closer to success. Knowing where someone may have lived can help distinguish your person from another person who shares the same name. For instance, if you know that Richard Johnson lived in Utah from 1994 to 2000, but you find a Richard Johnson in New York who has lived there for the past 30 years, you know that’s not the same person, even though the names match. Even better if you have several addresses from the past, as many search results return 20 years of address history on the person you are searching for, and knowing a few addresses can give you better results on your first time searching.

Other resources that you could use for searching for a person from the past would be names of relatives. Brothers, sisters, parents, and even spouses can be a real added plus when searching for a person, especially if you are searching for a woman who may have married over the years, changing her name. Men usually keep the same name throughout their lives, making them much easier to find. Also, your search may be more successful if you know the person’s middle name, or their maiden name. If this is someone in your family, and you have their social security number, it is almost a surefire guarantee that you will get the most current information on the person. However, that is a piece of information few people have on the person they are looking for, so your best bet is the list of information you are making.

Be sure to list as many of the following pieces of information that you can: Birth date, or approximate birth, and birth place, city and state if possible. List any siblings and parents names, and birth dates if possible. Last known address, or any and all addresses that you are aware of, even if it’s just city and state, or just state. Places of employment or businesses owned. Spouses, approximate year married, maiden name for a woman, nicknames or other names used. Names of good friends who still may be in contact with the person, they may have current information. If you know of any tendencies the person had to lie about their age, this could also prove to be useful information. Once you have compiled all of the information that you can remember about the person, you are ready to start your search.

Technorati tags:
, , ,

Friday, November 24, 2006

Organizing Two Sides of the Family Tree

If you're not married, and/or don't have children, your family tree will begin with two sides – your mother's side of the family, and your father's side of the family. But if you are married, then starting with yourself, take a look at bith sides of the family, starting from either your wedding. Remember those seats with the bride's family on one side of the isle, and groom's family on the other? Well, that's where your children's family tree begins. Those seats would most likely have been filled with people who you can begin to piece together the first few pages of your family tree. If you're working in your complete family tree, you will want to keep records on both sides of your family, and keep them separated. As you delve deeper into your family line, you will find many names of people you have never heard of, and you don't want to mix the family records, complicating the process. By keeping the two sides of the family separated, you will be better able to keep track of the names, the relations, and it will make the long term goal of the project easier to see. There will inevitably be times when you'll feel as though you've hit a road block, and it can be very helpful to have another area you can concentrate on while you contemplate your options.

When you are ready to begin, there is one key factor that will help you trace the lines of relatives in your family. With common names, simply Googling for information may not be enough. Start with someone who is LIVING. Many people make the mistake of trying to begin with someone in the family who has already passed, which can work in some cases, but in others, it creates a dead end too early in the project. This is especially true when searching online for answers. When it comes to information online, let's face it, there's a lot to sort through. If you're starting with yourself, work your way up to your parents and grandparents, because you may end up with information that can lead you to more. For a really privileged start, run a report on yourself using a company like PeopleFinders, which will give you specific information to work with. Memories fade, and names, addresses, and other information becomes harder to precisely remember. Without correct details, you could halt your search before it has truly begun.

Technorati tags:
, , , ,

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Searching Your Genealogy – Your Family Tree

The family tree is often one of the most valuable heirlooms within a family. There are a great number of families in the United States that places a great emphasis on their genealogy and family history. Other families struggle through long searches trying to find answers as to where they came from, and how they got where they are now. Questions about who they look like go unanswered, but the desire to see their own faces in another human being grows with intensity.

But for many families, even though the information may be readily available on their genealogy, a wonderful family tree could be build, but it simply hasn't been started yet. These records can be extremely useful when researching the genealogy of your family. But record keeping wasn't a strong point of many of our ancestors, but birth, death, and marriage records have proven to be extremely useful, and are readily available online, as well as directly from the public records of many courthouses.

Putting together a family tree can be a difficult task. But in recent times, most people leave a paper trail, detailing records back as far as 20 years. As we fill out forms and sign documents, apply for loans, purchase property, get married, divorced, gain credit, and even destroy credit, we ourselves create this paper trail. It helps when you can give your project some organization right from the beginning. Set goals of how long each day or each week you would like to spend on your project, because there will be times you are truly addicted to your project, and just don't want to quit for the night, and other times you are completely frustrated, and won't want to touch it again for a year!

Frustration is one of the major reasons why people just starting to build their family tree end up quitting halfway through, never to pick up where they left off. Keep your project moving, and if you loose motivation in one area, try going back to an area you got stuck on in the past. A break in your thoughts can provide the ability to see clues you were blind to in your frustration. Try working on another area of the genealogical line for a while, and then later, come back to that which you were having trouble with earlier. If one relative seems to continue to provide dead ends, try a different relative. That's the true beauty of building a family tree. With extended family relationships, you have the option of using several different people searches to get information about the same relative.

Technorati tags:
, , , ,

Monday, October 23, 2006

Should I Do a Background Check on the Maid?

When you hire a company to do work to your house, do you stop to consider who you are inviting into your home? Most people assume that since they are calling a number out of the phone book, they are going to get trustworthy people coming into their homes. But this is not always the case. There have been quite a few incidents of crime and theft that stems from workers we invite to our homes, including identity theft. Unless you plan to do a background check on everyone you bring to your home, it’s best to ensure that the company you are calling has done the homework for you. Whether you are having your carpets cleaned, your kitchen remodeled, or you’re hiring a weekly maid, you’ll want to feel safe about your choices. Even if your home is fully insured, and your belongings are protected, you’ll want to be sure your identity is carefully guarded as well.

Some companies are starting to see the need to advertise the security measures they are taking to protect their customers. A recent commercial for Stanley Steemer, says that they do background checks on all of their carpet cleaning technicians, so that you know that the people who enter into your home have been thoroughly checked for drug use or criminal history. On the other hand, many national home maid services, such as Molly Maid and Merry Maids do not advertise that their employees have undergone a background check. Instead, their maids are insured and bonded, which means that their employees have been somewhat checked out, in order to determine whether the employee is bondable. Their websites does not have information regarding background checks on their maids, yet this is a service that allows the employees to enter into homes without the owner present.

If you are choosing to hire a private contracted company or individual, whether for home reconstruction or remodeling, or a nanny or housecleaner, doing a background check on the person you intend to hire may be in order. When a person applies for a state issued license, they usually have to pass a background check prior to receiving their license. This means that most licensed contractors, plumbers, HVAC repair specialists, and construction companies have already submitted their information for the purpose of performing a background check on the state level. But there are many companies that fall into categories that do not require licensure or background checks, and you may be left on your own to determine whether they are safe to invite into your home. This includes housecleaners, TV/VCR repair persons, tutors for students, nannies, babysitters, maids, window washers, and many more professions.

When you invite someone into your home, it is up to you to protect yourself. Keep your personally identifying information in a safe place, out of view from visitors. Don’t leave your mail on the kitchen table when you come through the door. Sort through it, shred the junk mail, and stash the bills in a safe place, out of the reach of people who may be in your home for a short time. It is best to keep all of your paperwork in a filing cabinet in a safe part of the house, such as the bedroom or a locked closet. This way, you can get to it easily, keep organized, and your personal information stays out of view.

Technorati tags:
, , ,

Monday, October 02, 2006

Before You Hire Anyone to Help You Search...

Be sure you have covered as much as you can do on your own. There are a plethora of free websites, databases, and government entities that hold information on you, your family, and those who you have associated with in the past. If the person you are looking for was close to you (such as a family member or ex-spouse), you may even have the option of looking yourself up in a few online databases, and you may find information leading to the person.

The first place (always) to start online when searching for anyone is a ZabaSearch. It has one of the best free online searches I've yet to see. You can try search engines, such as Google or Yahoo. But you should remember that these are not sufficient most of the time for pinpointing someone you lost contact with. The results come up in the millions, and most of the time you will get similar name matches, doctors, lawyers, and such. But never-the-less, it's worth a try; just type in as much information as you have on the person, such as a city and state, their name, year of birth, all of which are pretty specific bits of info. Chances are you would come up with little or nothing of importance. However, some search engines have been known to bring up the darndest things. It's worth a shot.

Technorati tags:
, , , , , ,

If you would like to see your questions answered here on our blog, just send us a quick email, and we'll get to it just as soon as we can! We'd love to hear from you.