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How Long Do the Cell Companies Keep Information?

Wired Magazine broke a story that includes a memo "For Law Enforcement Only" that covers how long each cell phone carrier keeps information on cell phone calls and tracking.  This includes information on where a cell phone has been (for ATT from 2008 to present) to billing information , calls made, text messages, etc.  This can be useful information in many cases.  For a PI in Texas you will need a subpoena to get this, but knowing how long the information is kept by the carriers is very important. You can see the memo here.

The story is about the court ruling that the government does not need a warrant to get cell tower information  from the cell phone service carriers.  This includes tracking the movements of the cell phone.  The ruling basically says it is up to the district courts to decide if law enforcement needs a warrant.  That is Federal Law.  Texas state law requires a subpoena to obtain the records.

Ars Technica has a good article with detailed information concerning all of the stored infoprmation.  They have an easy to read chart for your viewing pleasure.

The point is - knowing how long the data is kept by the companies can be very useful when investigating  a case.

Remember to stay safe!

Employee Background Checks: Even the Smallest Businesses Need Them

Sometimes when people have a really small business they do not think they need to get a background check done on potential employees. What they fail to realize is that they can actually save a lot of money and a lot of headaches by simply getting a basic background check done by professional investigator. Why is that? It is simple. It is much easier to be in a relationship with an employee that you feel you can trust. Wouldn’t you rather know a little something about that new employee than hire them blind? Maybe you are old school. And you will go by your "gut feeling."

Most investigations companies charge a very reasonable fee to conduct a background check. Some agencies offer a variety of background checks depending on how deep you want to go. Most background checks will include a check of the public records for criminal violations and driving history. A better background check will also include checking past residences and confirming previous employers. Some investigators will go even more in depth and verify education.

Stop and think about it. Unless you really, really know the person you're hiring, such as they are a son or daughter, then you really need to get a background check to verify what they're saying. How much is peace of mind worth to you? Can you risk hiring a felon? Can you risk hiring a known thief? Maybe you can. Maybe you trust everyone still. But for a very small fee and not much extra time you can get a background check and this check can help you make a realistic hiring decision.

A background check is not the end all to knowing everything about a person. However, having one is far superior than not having one. If you trust your gut, and I cannot convince you otherwise, then go ahead and hire. For a final question: Have you ever hired someone who was not really who they said they were? This is very unlikely to happen is a real background check.

Remember, Whatever you do - stay safe!

Process Servers Who Conduct Investigations

There seems to be a big fuss over whether or not process servers conduct investigations to locate people they serve. We all know that often a process server does conduct some sort of locate investigation to complete the service, they can do that for themselves all they want.

I think the area of concern is when a process server wants to sell this information that they derived from their own investigation. Once a process server charges a fee for that information, that is when it appears that process server has crossed the line if he or she is not a licensed private investigator. Said line they crossed being “conducting investigations without a license.”

I'm not trying to give legal advice here. I'm just giving my own opinion as to how I see everything unfolding. There are many PIs out there who are also process servers. Obviously there is no problem with these folks charging for the information. But when someone is a process server and not a private investigator, and they are conducting investigations for a fee whether it be before or after the fact is a violation of the law.
OCC §1702.104. INVESTIGATIONS COMPANY. (a) A person acts as an investigations company for the purposes of this chapter if the person: (1) engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information related to: … the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, efficiency, loyalty, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person;
I'm not sure why there's any confusion on this issue. There are exceptions listed in the code. The list is quite long but process servers are not an exception.

Remember that not only is the process server violating the law, but the person who hires the process server to obtain the information is also subject to fine. If you ever have a doubt – just make sure you hire a real Texas PI who is licensed.

Whatever you do – stay safe!