A few weeks ago, the world was introduced to the term “catfishing” due to an internet hoax involving Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o’s pseudo relationship with a 22-year old woman, who he thought died of cancer last year. While “catfishing” normally takes place in a personal relationship many businesses have defrauded individuals online as well. The Internet presents a lot of potential revenue opportunities—and a lot of risks.
Knowing that you are dealing with a real individual and/or company minimizes these risks while protecting businesses from both fraud and identity theft. While many websites, and even emails, are designed to look professional and secure, there are often indicative signs that can help you identify ones you want to avoid. Take precaution by using these reliable verification tools online:
BizId is a service provided by global credit information group Experian. BizId provides reliable commercial information and reduces approval time in order to stay competitive. Through a single transaction, BizId searches multiple databases to authenticate a business and up to two business owners while helping meet compliance requirements.
Job-centric search engine ZoomInfo aggregates people and company information in one location. Their information listings on people, harvested from across the web, include people’s employment history and current job title and whether or not they’re seeking employment. Should you get too many search results for a person’s name, filter them by geographic location.
You can’t talk finding information online without mentioning the big G. For well-known brands and individuals, you will get great results by just typing the name into Google’s search bar, but for civilians, common names or names with double meanings, a few advanced Google techniques can help narrow down the field of results.
- Enclose the name of the person you’re searching for in quotations when you enter the name into the search box (i.e. “Tasha Jones”).
- Include other relevant words, like the person’s profession, employer, location, or screen name (i.e. lawyer or Washington, DC.)
- If the person you’re searching for is likely to appear on a particular web site; search only that site using the site: URL operator (like site: blackenterprise.com “Tasha Jones”).
- To search people by appearance, look for them on Google Images to get a quick visual—especially useful for those with common names, or to determine the gender of a person you’re meeting for the first time.
Over 200 million professionals around the world use LinkedIn. You can quickly review their profiles, which will include educational background information and work history, as well as their connections. When reviewing, you should see if you have any similar connections. If so, reach out and request a recommendation on this person. If you do not have connections, LinkedIn offers a paid service called Reference Search.
S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead .