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.

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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.

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