UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

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Zillions
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UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Zillions »

My student recently applied to a cadet position in her University PD. She cleared the first round of panel interview and then - out of the blue - received an email from a purported "private investigator" who is "retained" by the UPD to do a background check on her.

However, a few things leave me scratching my head.

Is it "normal" for a PD to do a background check on a potential cadet without doing their physical fitness test first? What if she sends this indidivual her ENTIRE life history and then - unfortunately - fails the physical?

Even more bizarre, there is NO mention of a fingerprinting yet either from the FBI or the DOJ - which I assume are critical to doing a criminal investigation into her past?

Instead, this "private investigator retained by UPD" wants her to send him - to a PROTON.ME account and to his private Google drive the following:

1. Copy of her birth certificate.
2. Copy of her social security card.
3. Last 3 years driving record (she's too young for this, but whatever!).
4. Waiver to do her credit check.
5. Relationship questionnaire.
6. False statements affidavit.

My kid is very very eager to get this job. But I am extremely nervous. The combination of using a PROTON email account and requesting she drop such private documents into a Google drive scare me to heck.

She contacted the UPD via email and IN PERSON. The person at the front desk claimed this individual is "legit" *although* they could NOT confirm if the PROTON email address and Google Drive mentioned in the email belonged to their legitimate PI or not.

This PI also texted her a week ago, asking if she had any questions or concerns. When she asked him if she could drop off the documents IN PERSON, he claimed he is not local (to the University) and that the "Google Drive" is only viewable by him and her and that he'd "delete everything" after he had downloaded all of the afore-mentioned documents she uploads to the drive. The other option he gives her is to send all the documents to a PO BOX located in a different state!

I googled this individual. Yes, they are legit and a private investigator licensed in our state and the state where the PO BOX is located. I guess my question really is how to make sure that the Google Drive and the Proton Mail belongs to the LEGITIMATE PI retained by the UPD, and not to some random scammer out to take advantage of teens (even if legally adults) trying to get into a police job!

The irony does not escape me. This is a law enforcement job and to worry so much that this could be a scam makes me both angry and anxious.

She is just a very young adult and is eager to send this person everything and get started, but at my age, and having been the victim of ID theft in the past myself, something does not bode well.

Please advice! Are there any precautions she should take? If this were your kid, would you allow her or him to send all these personal docs to this stranger? Thanks in advance.
Geologist
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by Geologist »

I don't know all the details, but fingerprints are not required for a criminal background check. We run criminal background checks on all new employees and our process does not require fingerprints from them.
Topic Author
Zillions
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by Zillions »

Geologist wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:08 pm I don't know all the details, but fingerprints are not required for a criminal background check. We run criminal background checks on all new employees and our process does not require fingerprints from them.
Thank you. Do you require extensive documents from your potential recruits, such as copies of birth certificate and ss card? Is it safe to share these documents with anyone else?
miket29
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by miket29 »

why not advise your student to contact the PD where she applied to become a cadet and ask if they put candidates thru this screening?
tonyclifton
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by tonyclifton »

Geologist wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:08 pm I don't know all the details, but fingerprints are not required for a criminal background check. We run criminal background checks on all new employees and our process does not require fingerprints from them.
Background checks that require fingerprinting (ink or electronic) are definitely required for many types of licenses or jobs.
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anon_investor
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by anon_investor »

miket29 wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 7:32 pm why not advise your student to contact the PD where she applied to become a cadet and ask if they put candidates thru this screening?
+1.

I've had some background checks that require finger prints, but never had to provide SS card or birth certificate, just DOB and SS#.
Geologist
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by Geologist »

tonyclifton wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 7:43 pm
Geologist wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 5:08 pm I don't know all the details, but fingerprints are not required for a criminal background check. We run criminal background checks on all new employees and our process does not require fingerprints from them.
Background checks that require fingerprinting (ink or electronic) are definitely required for many types of licenses or jobs.
I didn't say they weren't. I just said that a criminal background check can be run without them and that is true.
nguy44
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by nguy44 »

Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm
She contacted the UPD via email and IN PERSON. The person at the front desk claimed this individual is "legit" *although* they could NOT confirm if the PROTON email address and Google Drive mentioned in the email belonged to their legitimate PI or not.

This PI also texted her a week ago, asking if she had any questions or concerns. When she asked him if she could drop off the documents IN PERSON, he claimed he is not local (to the University) and that the "Google Drive" is only viewable by him and her and that he'd "delete everything" after he had downloaded all of the afore-mentioned documents she uploads to the drive. The other option he gives her is to send all the documents to a PO BOX located in a different state!
Normally (in my experience), an employer doing this lets the candidate up front know that they will be contacted, and give enough details so that you know the contact is legitimate.

I would have her contact the investigator and ask if they can provide a name at the UPD to verify that this is a legitimate request, as you are concerned this is a scam and very personal information will be shared. Then contact the name they give.

If they cannot give the name, go back to the PD office and get beyond the "person at the front desk" to raise this concern - ask for a manager/supervisor/whatever who might have more information about this. Again explain that, due to the nature of the information request you want to ensure this is not a scam.
privateer79
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by privateer79 »

nguy44 wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 7:58 pm
Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm
......
.......

I would have her contact the investigator and ask if they can provide a name at the UPD to verify that this is a legitimate request, as you are concerned this is a scam and very personal information will be shared. Then contact the name they give.

.........
just to clairfy... perhaps get a name ... but don't accept any contact information from the investigator... (email address, phone #, etc...) go back to the PD with the provided name, and make contact through the front desk, their published phone number, or email address.
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Watty
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by Watty »

Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm 3. Last 3 years driving record (she's too young for this, but whatever!).
This one makes no sense which would be a red flag to me.

Any police department should be able to easily pull her driving record and would want to do that since anything she supplied might not be accurate.
privateer79
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by privateer79 »

Generally I would expect this type of information to be collected for a trusted position like being a police officer.

(ie they will want your prints on file if only to exclude you from a crime scene if you accidently touch something)

I have a good friend who recruited for our county sheriff's office for 10-15 years. they would often structure the process to weed out the most people first... and once they commented that most people pass the physical (or can pass it after training).... but the background check weeds out alot of folks with past drug /violent past.


That said the way the asked for it is awfully shady, and I think your student would earn brownie points for questioning/pointing out the issues and lack of security in the process.
Last edited by privateer79 on Sun May 12, 2024 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
privateer79
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by privateer79 »

Watty wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 8:06 pm
Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm 3. Last 3 years driving record (she's too young for this, but whatever!).
This one makes no sense which would be a red flag to me.

Any police department should be able to easily pull her driving record and would want to do that since anything she supplied might not be accurate.
I've heard for character investigations (particularly in PD's) they like to ask you things they know to see how candid and diligent you are about self-reporting.....
vaylie
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not?

Post by vaylie »

Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm She contacted the UPD via email and IN PERSON. The person at the front desk claimed this individual is "legit" *although* they could NOT confirm if the PROTON email address and Google Drive mentioned in the email belonged to their legitimate PI or not.
If this is a PI that the UPD regularly hire/contract to do background checks, shouldn't they have his contact information (I would probably ask for a phone number as opposed to an e-mail)? Then she can call him directly and verify that the e-mail is from him.

I still wouldn't feel too good about putting all this stuff on a google drive but I feel like it shouldn't be too hard to confirm whether this person is impersonating a PI or not.
Topic Author
Zillions
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Zillions »

Thank you everyone. She has reached out again to the UPD & was told that she'd need to submit copies of her birth certificate & SSN card for only after another round of interview, so that's temporary relief. The department supervisor has not yet reached out to her so we'll see.

However, it seems to me (based on the tone I read from their email responses to her concerns) that they find it "amusing" that she would even suspect that she could become an ID theft victim as part of the process for getting recruited into law enforcement. Well, I hope their "amusement" is a good sign that this guy is legit but I still don't understand why she can't take them into the department for them to personally verify her documents instead of wanting her to email them to some 3rd party?!

Just bizarre! Are cops, cops-in-training & potential cops-in-training invincible when it comes to such crimes?
vaylie wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 8:17 pm
Zillions wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 4:56 pm She contacted the UPD via email and IN PERSON. The person at the front desk claimed this individual is "legit" *although* they could NOT confirm if the PROTON email address and Google Drive mentioned in the email belonged to their legitimate PI or not.
If this is a PI that the UPD regularly hire/contract to do background checks, shouldn't they have his contact information (I would probably ask for a phone number as opposed to an e-mail)? Then she can call him directly and verify that the e-mail is from him.

I still wouldn't feel too good about putting all this stuff on a google drive but I feel like it shouldn't be too hard to confirm whether this person is impersonating a PI or not.
She did call him but he does not not answer & apparently does not believe in responding to voice mails. It's beyond frustrating.
Kingghoti
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Kingghoti »

i hope she called him NOT using a phone number included on his message to her.

first rule of identity authentication is to make contact out of band, using a known good number obtained from an independent authority.

it seems the risk is that someone is impersonating a bona fide investigator. chasing down the particulars of the investigation process (what, no fingerprints!?) are at best hints and clues but miss the point of man in the middle attacks or impersonation by other means.

Best!
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Cobra Commander
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Cobra Commander »

Does the PI have a website or does the licensing database list a phone number for him? If so, after verifying with the University that he is their PI contact him using the licensing database phone number and confirm he is the one that reached out to her.

It seems like the risk of ID theft is low because the impersonator would have to know that your kid applied for a cadet position with the university.

I am also kinda surprised the background check is so intense rather than just a criminal records search. Campus cadets are basically security guards where they walk around and call in the real PD if they see anything.
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Zillions
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Zillions »

Cobra Commander wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 7:04 am Does the PI have a website or does the licensing database list a phone number for him? If so, after verifying with the University that he is their PI contact him using the licensing database phone number and confirm he is the one that reached out to her.

It seems like the risk of ID theft is low because the impersonator would have to know that your kid applied for a cadet position with the university.

I am also kinda surprised the background check is so intense rather than just a criminal records search. Campus cadets are basically security guards where they walk around and call in the real PD if they see anything.
That is what surprised me, too, although she will also be training at the associated (Big city PD) with the possibility of working for them after graduation if that's what she wants. Should I be worried that he won't answer his publicly listed phone?
Kingghoti wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 6:31 am i hope she called him NOT using a phone number included on his message to her.

first rule of identity authentication is to make contact out of band, using a known good number obtained from an independent authority.

it seems the risk is that someone is impersonating a bona fide investigator. chasing down the particulars of the investigation process (what, no fingerprints!?) are at best hints and clues but miss the point of man in the middle attacks or impersonation by other means.

Best!
Now I'm getting more paranoid. She did call the phone number on his publicly listed website & left messages but got no response. The Google drive is his publicly listed email id. The email id he has been communicating from & the one text he sent her are both from a phone number & email account NOT publicly listed for her. How worried should we be?

Also, I forgot to mention in the OP -- among other documents, he wants her to send him a notarized document and a headshot. Now I'm worried if she should bother with the procss, given the possibility of Deep Fakes!
Kingghoti
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by Kingghoti »

Chances are that if it is a scammer, it's an attempt to grab identity documents to foist off on a future victim of an unrelated scam.

What's troubling is the nonsensical and unhelpful response from the front desk, "Oh, that's a real person!" No kidding, Sherlock.
That's not the question. The question is how do you know you are communicating with the real person.

The U should have a valid phone number and email for their vendor to share with you. Or, a better practice is this: be willing to let you state the number you used and tell you if it matches the number in their CRM/vendor file.

Hope all goes well! Sounds like the U can use a new smart employee :)

Best!
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sergeant
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by sergeant »

Many agencies employ private background investigators for new hires. This is normal. Sounds like she is applying for a non-sworn, civilian, cadet position. My son worked in one of these positions for 3 years while he was in college.
I doubt this is a scam. Have your daughter speak with recruitment or the Watch Commander. She could also ask one of the newer cadets if this is legit.
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syc
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by syc »

I have thoughts on two levels.

1: Should she go through with this at all? I appreciate her enthusiasm, but I would suggest no. That's what I would advise my kids if they were in similar circumstances. Ponying up that amount of private data to an uncontrolled recipient is just not worth the upside of this job. If it was for a commission in the Armed Forces, or a "forever" job at say a federal DOE research lab, well that would be different. But not for a college job.

2. If, nevertheless, she wants to proceed, then how, technically, to transfer the information? There are certainly much better ways than unencrypted email and a Google Drive. I'm actually glad to see the PI has a Proton Mail account; that sounds like the one smart thing the PI has done. Your daughter could get a free one

https://proton.me/mail

and then use it to send the info. Proton address to Proton address, everything would be encrypted and would never leave the Proton ecosystem, which I think is plenty secure.

And/or, she could get a free Proton Drive account

https://proton.me/drive/pricing

Then she could upload all the files to it, and all would remain secure and encrypted. She could then make those files available to a specific person (the PI) for a specific amount of time.

Another approach, just a tad more complex but not that bad, is magic wormhole:

https://magic-wormhole.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

She and the PI would both install it on their computers. Then, *while in real-time communication by phone*, she would initiate the file transfer, with several random code words that she reads to the PI, and they would type those same words in at their end, and voila--files transferred, encrypted and private and secure.

The problem that remains is, once the PI has the info, she loses all control over what they do with it.

I can't say that anything nefarious is going on here. But their approach (both the PI and UPD) seems amateurish, especially for two outfits that are, notionally, all about security. They should know better. So even if this is not scamm-y, they certainly seem unskilled. Some shops (this PD?) are not worth getting involved with. Whatever the industry, our daughter should gravitate toward competent outfits.
lostcoast2023
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Re: UPD recruitment background check process - scam or not? [University PD]

Post by lostcoast2023 »

This situation does present a lot of red flags, but unfortunately plenty of legitimate businesses and governments still use processes like this. I have seen this many times for job applications, apartment rentals, county tax exemptions, and other sensitive activities. Most people don't know/care about the risks and upload their data.

Heck, Proton Mail is probably far more secure then the terrible "secure upload" systems many banks and businesses use.
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