Is the Background Investigator Who Contacted Me Legit?
A background investigator calls you or shows up at your door and says they want to ask you some questions about someone you know. How do you know they are legit?
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Federal Investigations Service (FIS) provides oversight for the federal and contract investigators who perform the investigative checks for background investigations. These investigators carry credentials that identify them as representatives of OPM and must show their credentials before requesting any information. The person who is the subject of the investigation has already given their full consent to run the necessary checks, but if the party who is being questioned for information wants a copy of the Authorization for Release of Information form that was signed, then it must be provided by the investigator. Please note that electronically signed forms are valid in accordance with Public Law 105-277.
How did the investigator get your name?
They were given contact and reference information by the person being investigated, or by another person who was questioned during the course of the investigation. The normal procedure for an investigator to make contact is by phone or in person. Texting and email are not methods condoned as a way to solicit or provide information. The reasons for this are that you cannot verify the identity of the person on the other end and whether or not they are acting in an official capacity. If you receive an email or text purportedly from an investigator you should have them call you or provide you a number to call to get their badge number so you can verify it with OPM-FIS if needed. Also, most interviews are usually done in person and not normally over the phone unless there is a specific reason why it can’t be done in person (e.g., person prefers a phone interview due to work conditions or geographic location not accessible).
You can find out more information about the process or if you have any additional questions related to an Agent’s/Investigator’s identity or status by going to the OPM-FIS website.