Asset searches are extremely popular and beneficial, yet there are many misconceptions as to what information is obtained, and the permissibility of such evidence.
Some of these misconceptions are as follows:
1. You can obtain account numbers.
This is false! The Gramm-Leach Bliley Act prohibits any financial institutions from sharing account numbers or similar access numbers.
The prohibition applies to disclosures of any account numbers for an individual’s credit card account, deposit account, or “transaction account” to any nonaffiliated third party.
Our reports provide the name and location of the financial institution and a description of the accounts (checking/savings) with either the most recent balance or the average balance over the past thirty days depending on the individual institutions reporting procedures.
In some cases, a subject may have an opt-out agreement with the bank or a private banker. In those circumstances we may only be able to provide the financial institution and type of account but no balance information; however we will NEVER provide any account number.
2. When you send a subpoena for a bank account you should list the specific account number only.
Despite the writ/sheriff requesting them, account numbers are not necessary.
The best way to obtain as much information as possible is to provide the social security number of the individual and their full name, including any alternate names (i.e. alias or maiden names the individual may go by). If you are requesting information on a business, you must include the companies FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number), the name of the company (provide any d/b/a or trading names) and known principals of the company.
The above information is mandatory in order for the bank to effectuate the levy on the account(s). By not providing account numbers, you now have access to all accounts held at the institution, so it is in your best interest to not include them.
3. A good investigator should be able to find 100% of accounts.
The best investigator in the world will never be able to guarantee 100% location of accounts.
This is simply because individuals that are trying to hide their money are working just as hard to hide it as the investigator is working to locate it. If we have the correct names, alias names, social security number and date of birth, we should be able to locate majority of the accounts. However, we still can’t ensure 100% location!.
Bank accounts are very easy to open and we find that many individuals open bank accounts using another person’s social security number. Our firm ensures 87% location of all accounts, providing that the information for the individual provided by our client is accurate.
4. You can perform an asset search for any reason.
Again this is false. In order to remain compliant with the GLBA and FCRA, On The Lookout and all credible investigators require a permissible purpose to run an asset search for the consumer’s protection. Otherwise you run the risk of performing a search which violates the laws and acts put into place for the consumer’s protection.
Some examples for permissible purpose are:
- a court order
- federal grand jury subpoena
- permission by the consumer himself (in writing)
- employment purposes (again with consumer permission)
- debt or judgment collection
- authorized matrimonial investigation
- settlement purposes
- authorized estate purposes (must be requested by personal representative or executor).
In other words, you need a legitimate reason to get access to someone’s bank and asset information.
Here at OTLO, you never have to worry. Our investigators are thoroughly trained to follow all of the laws constituted by the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, and we promise to NEVER pretext.