Specialized Search Tool Aids Law Enforcement Agencies
With concern about online fraud and identity theft growing, the insurance, banking, retail and other industry sectorsnot to mention law enforcementare looking for more sophisticated tools to verify identity. Today, Seisint Inc. is rolling out a custom-tailored version of its information management database service for law enforcement, with versions targeted to other users in the works.
Seisints generic search tool, Accurint, is used today by about 2400 law enforcement agencies as well as insurance agencies. Investigators at the Kankakee County Sheriffs Department in northwestern Illinois have been using it for about a year, saving both time and money tracking suspected criminals, said Chief Investigator Ken McCabe.
"Most of the time what were looking for is contactspeople we can go talk to about someone were looking for," McCabe said.
In addition to addresses and birth dates, McCabes department uses the search tool to find information on bankruptcies and business affiliates, he said. Because the data can include potentially sensitive information, the service is directly available only to the chief and two supervisors in the department, he added.
"You dont want everyone in the world out there searching for stuff," he said.
Organizations can pay for the service on a per-transaction basis or on a monthly per-user basis. For a small agency like the Kankakee sheriffs department, the per-transaction option is the most economical. McCabe said his team uses the tool sporadically, as many as 10 times in a day or as little as once every three weeks.
"The biggest advantage is that you pay as you go," McCabe said, adding that he estimates spending an average of $13 per month for the service.
Seisint collects its data solely from public records, including criminal convictions, property records, professional licenses, bankruptcy filings and motor vehicle registration. While the information is not something users couldnt get elsewhere, it is available faster because Seisints software operates in a massively parallel configuration, enabling rapid, complex data processing.
"Were providing a one-stop shopping forum," said Jim Swift, executive vice president at Seisint, in Boca Raton, Fla.
The company does not guarantee that the data it provides is accurate, but it does take steps, including address standardization, to correct some errors.
"Its public record data. It does potentially have errors in it. Its keyed in at some point," Swift said. "We try to do whatever we can to clean it up."
Because of the potential sensitivity of the compiled data, Seisint does not offer its services to everyone, and it provides ways for its customers to limit the number of users who have access to it.
"We dont sell to consumers. We only sell to businesses with legitimate purposes," Swift said. "We are very careful about who we allow to have access to this information."