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When a little background is in order

Stacy Miller is in the business of making sure other Fargo-Moorhead businesses aren't made a fool. A growing list of area businesses are hiring Miller's company, I. Search Investigations, to perform background checks on prospective employees.

Stacy Miller is in the business of making sure other Fargo-Moorhead businesses aren't made a fool.

A growing list of area businesses are hiring Miller's company, I. Search Investigations, to perform background checks on prospective employees.

Apartment managers also are using I. Search Investigations to screen possible tenants, said Miller, the Fargo company's president and chief executive officer.

Of all days, the background investigations company opened its doors at 15 21st St. S. on April 1.

"We got a chuckle out of that," Miller said. "We weren't sure if that was a good omen or not."

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From second-floor offices overlooking Main Avenue, Miller and the company's general manager, Donna Wood, are offering businesses a wide variety of screening services.

They help businesses get a clearer picture of prospective employees' history and qualifications by checking out the information and references listed on resumes. They also track down criminal and civil court records, credit reports, driving records and other sources of public information.

"It's amazing what you can find out," Wood said. "Nationally, 67 percent of all people have embellished or outright lied on resumes."

The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Broadway hired I. Search Investigations to complete background checks on three people who wanted jobs operating booths, said Colleen Argabright, the VFW's gaming manager.

Argabright said the investigations company saved her time and gave her peace of mind.

Apartment owners are a large part of I. Search Investigations' developing clientele, Miller said.

Miller and Wood said they track down credit reports to protect apartment owners from deadbeat tenants and check criminal records to safeguard renters from sex offenders.

Criminal checks help protect all types of companies from employee theft and workplace violence, Wood said.

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Employees are responsible for nearly half of all business theft in the United States, she said.

Through criminal checks, I. Search Investigations can identify prospective employees who risk exposing companies to lawsuits. In 28 states, juries have held companies responsible for the actions of their employees, Wood said.

Companies that negligently hire and retain, and don't provide enough employee supervision are leaving themselves open to legal problems, Wood said.

I. Search Investigations also checks civil court records that sometimes alert companies to job applicants who have histories of filing lawsuits against employers or have filed numerous workers compensation claims, Miller said.

"What you find is that some companies, for whatever reason, end up cutting corners when they check out job applicants," Wood said. "It can be time consuming for them and there are expenses.

"But if they don't check them out, they can end up paying a bigger price in the long run," she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

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