How to Make Your Background Investigator a Happy Camper
The first thing you need to understand about your background investigator is that he (and yes, it very well could be a nice lady, or a "her.") makes no decisions about your suitability. That is done in the Internal Affairs Office. Your investigator collects information, puts it into report form and electronically transmits it to the company that had the contract for your particular investigation. Rarely will you see a background investigator who is not a contract employee.
Your initial interview is NOT a dress up occasion. Dress comfortably. No suit required. Your interview will almost certainly require more than two hours and depending how naughty or nice you have been, it can increase from there.
The main method to make your background investigator a happy person is to have lived an exemplary life, have great credit, and a few close friends who are semi-articulate. At this stage of the game, it may be too late for all that, so we'll just do what we can.
Bring the following items to your initial personal interview if you are the subject of the investigation:
These items may change slightly at your five year reinvestigation, but you certainly can't go wrong by bringing them.
Original Social Security card.
Raised seal birth certificate, government issued (not the one with your little footsie prints issued by the hospital). If you are a US citizen born abroad, bring your consulate birth notification with you. If you were foreign born, have your naturalization certificate. If you have had a name change or used an alias, bring legal proof.
If you are a federal government employee, bring your credentials.
Schools attended (for each school attended, high school or above): Bring the names of at least two contacts (professor, fellow students) who you know, along with their contact information.
For every employment listed on the SF-86 within the past ten years, have two references and their current contact information (preferably a cell phone) and their address. One should (but does not HAVE to be) a supervisor and the other a co-worker.
For every residence you have lived for the past ten years, have two neighbors or people who know you well and are regular visitors to your residence names, contact numbers and address. Let these people know they will probably be contacted by your investigator.
If you are married and/or divorced, bring the legal paperwork, marriage certificate, divorce decree.
Do you have foreign relative or in-laws? If so, obtain copies of the documents that allow them to be in the United States. These can be naturalization certificates or green cards. Have a neatly done list of all of their names, addresses, occupations, and your frequency and type of contact (for example, twice a month by telephone). Have a similar list for foreign relatives who live outside the US. To determine who we're talking about, see below:
Child (adopted also)
Adult Currently Living With You
Have you traveled outside the United States? List all travel, when it occurred, destination, purpose, who you traveled with and how it was financed. It should look something like this:
Dates of Travel
DestinationPurpose of TravelTraveled withHow FinancedMay 2009, 2 weeks
GuatemalaVacationWalter MontenegroSavingsDecember 2010, 30 days
PeruTotal Immersion Spanish Education
AloneCredit Card, Student Loan
Were you unemployed? If you can obtain copies of benefits paid from the unemployment office, that would be great. Also have the name and contact information for a person who can verify that you were unemployed, did not work "under the table" while unemployed and how you supported yourself.
Were you self-employed? Have your business license and other proof of income to show how you supported yourself. Have the name and contact information of a verifier (can be wife, husband, mom, partner).
Have your Selective Service information available. You can find it at www.SSS.gov.
Foreign contacts: Bring the names and contact information for persons or groups that you communicate with on a continuing basis.
Use recreational drugs EVER? Make a list of what type drug was used or sold, how you came into possession of said drug, the extent of your use (how much, how often and dates), your age at the time of each use, and under what circumstances you used them, What were your reasons for using the drugs and what are your future intentions?
If you have ever been investigated previously by the US government, bring the details.
Your credit should be in order. If it is not, be prepared to answer what the issue was that caused you to fall behind and what you intend to do about it. Having a written plan in place is never a bad thing. You can get a REALLY free copy of your credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Feel free to tell your investigator where you got this information and if they would like to add to the list, they can contact me directly.