Does someone owe you money? Did you receive a judgment in your favor? Want to know if your new investor owns the assets they’re offering? The easiest way to find if there are assets to be claimed is by conducting an asset search. An asset investigation can help you get the information you need and collect the debt owed.
Each month we work with both individuals and organizations to find assets across the country. In this post, we will walk you through a real asset investigation we completed recently and help you understand the nuances of an asset investigation.
What is an asset search investigation?
This type of investigation usually helps individuals and companies identify assets, verify financial statements, find financial accounts, collect a debt, and identify fraudulent activity. They confirm the ownership of assets by a person or company by locating public records. These records can help determine the value of the assets and if there are any liabilities tied to personal property or real estate. An asset search provides great value to businesses and individuals alike.
A search may reveal the following types of assets:
- Bank accounts
- Vehicles, boats, and planes
- Real estate
- Safe deposit boxes
- Brokerage and retirement accounts
- Credit cards
- Income sources
- Business affiliation
- Business assets
- Financial records
Due to the type of investigation and the level of research involved, it is best if the asset search investigation is conducted by a private investigator. If you don’t hire the right professional, you risk getting incorrect information and inaccurate results. This can become a huge problem if you’re planning on using the investigation results in court.
How does an asset investigation work?
The scope of your asset investigation depends on the type of information you need. It can range from background checks to financial investigations. An asset investigation can tell you if your new investor is using a fictitious name, hiding their assets, or even committing fraud.
Corporate asset searches can uncover bankruptcy filings, judgments, real estate deeds, loans, and UCC filings – among other information. Individual asset searches can find criminal records, Doing Business As names, mortgage information, and more.
Every asset investigation is different because it must be adapted to the specifics of the situation. If you believe you are the victim of fraud, an asset investigation can clarify the situation and identify the person of interest.
Did you receive a judgment in your favor? If you did and the party is saying they don’t have the assets, you could do an asset investigation to find out if that’s true. If they’re lying, you could take the results from your investigation to court. With that information, the judge could require the party to repay you.
How can an asset search investigation help?
Asset search investigations can help you collect a debt for your company or client. The investigation will depend on what information you need. There’s no one size fits all approach. Remember that only a qualified investigator can help you get the information you need. Scams are very common today, so do some research before hiring a professional.
We recommend you sit down with your investigator and go over the details. This way, they can design a plan of what type of asset search they have to conduct. Below is a list of the most common uses one can have for an asset search investigation:
- Judgment collection
- Debt collection
- Child support
- Medical malpractice
- Divorce proceedings
- Estate & probate
- Identifying assets before initiating litigation
- Personal injury cases
- Asset check companies
- Finding hidden assets
- Background investigation
Why shouldn’t I use a low-cost or free asset service?
You can always choose to work with a low-cost or free asset search company to find the financial details you need about a person, but does this company get the job done? Most of the time, no. Either they provide inaccurate or old information, which can leave you frustrated and with more questions than answers.
The websites are merely accessing publicly available information. Meaning you’ll get details about things that are publicly registered, such as real estate and vehicles. No bank account or credit information is publicly available. This information can be obtained only through means compliant with the GLB.
Be careful if you see a website that claims they can provide free accurate information about a person’s financial situation. They are either illegitimate or lying to you.
Why our client needed an asset search?
We had a case about a company that had one of its employees embezzling money from them. Their representative hired us to conduct an asset search investigation and check out the bank accounts of the respective employee.
They contacted us only after paying $150 for a bank account search service provided by one of the asset search companies I mentioned above. It seems that the company came back with two positive hits. They claimed the employee had two bank accounts at two different prominent Canadian banks.
We decided to take on the case and did our research. We performed a comprehensive search and weren’t surprised to find that there weren’t any bank accounts opened in Canada. Our private investigator contacted those two banks and provided them with this person’s primary identifiers, and the banks confirmed there was absolutely nothing in the system that would justify the two positive hits.
Why would an asset search company come back with positive hits when they have no relevant information about the asset search? Because they know that most of this information is never going to get subpoenaed or proved in court, so they aren’t risking anything.
For this reason, it is always essential to check for the company’s references and look at their reviews before paying them to do the asset search. All legitimate companies will be ready to provide the information you need and answer all your questions.
Details are critical to a successful financial investigation
Now that we knew the asset search company had provided false information, we continued our investigation and conducted a comprehensive asset search. But, to be able to do that, we had to know everything the client knew about the person of interest. In such cases, we usually need information on banks where that person had or currently has accounts.
Every detail is important! And no, you’re not doing the job for us if you’re providing such information. It’s not a hide-and-seek game or a magic show! You’re collaborating, so we can get results fast and with a high degree of certainty. We corroborate the information provided by our clients with the information we have and get current balances of the accounts. Our private investigators check if things have changed or if bank accounts have been closed.
In this case, the client knew about a check from their employer but failed to provide us with the information at first. Only later, he came and told us, “Well, I know he’s got an account because I have a check that he gave us for payroll deposit.” By not telling us what he knew, he wasted money and time and diminished our ability to do an effective investigation.
Positive hits, negative hits, closed and open bank accounts – determining our scope of work
Now we had this valuable piece of information, and things started to move fast. We checked that bank account and found out it was closed in August 2017. Moreover, that bank didn’t exist anymore.
Our private investigators have the necessary experience and resources to conduct a dedicated bank account search for a closed account, but this has to be a specific component of the investigation. Our scope of work needs to be determined because we have a different price point for closed bank accounts. So, it’s essential to know if you want us to look just for open, active accounts, or you need to know about the open and closed accounts too!
Another thing we need our clients to know is that we don’t have a different price for asset search investigations that come back with no hits. The concept of no hits is that no accounts were found because something was probably missed, and we performed an incomplete search. This is not the case.
A rigorous, effective investigation may determine there are no accounts to be found. But this also is a crucial result of a comprehensive examination. It’s vital to know both if there are accounts and if there aren’t accounts to decide if the client wants to pursue the persons, they are investigating.
All our investigations are rigorous, and we always make sure we provide clients with valuable information so they can make informed decisions. The lack of a bank account is still a fact that can determine the next step the client takes. So, if you’re working with a company that has a different price for a no-hits investigation, it’s best to keep searching. This might be the perfect excuse to not perform a proper investigation or not conduct a rigorous search and still get paid.
Why no-hit results matter in an asset search investigation
To return to our case, the result of the investigation was no hits. However, we managed to deliver a lot of valuable information with a high degree of accuracy. Our private investigators found out the person of interest had no accounts in Canada. We informed our client that this might mean he had moved his account to the US or somewhere else.
We also told our client that, since the guy was from Asia, he might have a bank account there with all their money. In this case, they needed to conduct an asset search investigation in each country where they think the respective person might have a bank account. You won’t find a person’s bank accounts in Great Britain if you’re doing a US search. You need to do your search in that specific country.
The client was delighted with the result of the investigation. What is important to remember though is that clients should never withhold information from a private investigator. It will only delay the results of the investigation and cost them more.
Need to collect a debt from someone? Can’t find their financial assets? We can help! Contact us to learn more about our asset search services!