Lo and behold, not four days after we wrote our last post on the illegality of obtaining bank records, a postcard appeared in our mailbox promising “statewide bank searches” for under $300. I was intrigued. I thought, maybe they know something we don’t and they’ve found a legal way to find banking information.
I decided to call up this company that claimed to be staffed with licensed private investigators. They told me, “we’ll get the name of the bank, whether it’s a checking or savings account, and an approximate amount of money in the account.” I asked how they get this information. The answer was a snicker, a minute on hold, then finally, “you give us a name, date of birth and social security number and we’ll call every bank in the state.” I was told that if I e-mailed them my information, they would send me a message explaining what they say when they make those calls.
No e-mail was necessary, we know how they get the information. Pretexting, plain and simple. A bit of advice for those of you thinking about paying for services like these: first, no matter what they tell you, this is illegal, and it can come back to bite you, especially if you’re an attorney with a law license on the line (like us).
Second, what is the likelihood that they are really calling every bank in the state for $300? How comprehensive do you think the information will be that you get from these people? How do you know the information is even real? We wrote a post a few months back about a private investigative company that charged clients tens of thousands of dollars for bank records, but they were really just fabricating counterfeit bank statements out of whole cloth.
If they do scam you, how do you get your money back? You can’t sue them for not properly carrying out the illegal task you hired them to do. That’s like suing your hit man for missing his shot. The best bet is to steer clear. The methods we use may take a bit longer, but they are more effective, more comprehensive, and, best of all, they won’t land you in jail.