Monday, January 9, 2012

Small Investments = Big Returns

The independent owner/manager face special challenges when competing with new apartments. Listed below are five inexpensive ideas on how to add value to your property.

1. Staying Neutral: Most rental owners agree that neutral wall paint is the way to go when painting a rental property. Many believe that wallpaper is not necessary to cover the bathroom, and sticking with paint will help cut down maintenance costs.

2. Counter Proposal: Want to extend the life of your counter tops? Give each new resident a small wood cutting board as a move-in present. Not only will they appreciate the gesture, but owners also can prevent their counter tops from being damaged.

3. No Dim Bulbs: Owners typically turn on all the lights when they show the interior of a residence. This is a good practice. But even better is to make sure the bulbs are the highest approved wattage - especially in the closets. Avoid having any bare bulbs.

4. Shower Power: Install a shower rod and a colorful shower curtain. It adds color, plus you can arrange it to cover any bathtub defects.

5. Grate Expectations: Put a grate in the fireplace with a few logs. This brings an otherwise dead-looking fireplace to life.

Information gathered from NAA IRO Best Practices Guide
By: Jack Terrillion

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ACUTRAQ wants to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sex Offender Arrested with Runaway Teen in Fort Smith, AR

Fort Smith Police arrested a registered sex offender who was found in a hotel room with a 15-year-old girl Monday. Investigators found Hassell Evans Myers, 36, and the girl at a hotel in the 1800 block of Midland Boulevard. The parents, who suspected that their daughter was with Myers, reported her missing on Sept. 26, police say. Investigators conducted surveillance on Myers’ in the 2200 block of Jenny Lind for several days but did not see Myers or the teen. With the help of bank and cell phone records, officers were able to track them down. Myers is being charged with Sexual Assault 4th Degree, Felony Interference with Child Custody and Failure to register as a Sex Offender. The teen was taken to a local medical facility for treatment and later released to her parents, according to police.

Alicia Agent
5NEWS Web Producer
4:28 p.m. CDT, October 6, 2011

Unfortunately, this happens every day all around us. It is the responsibility of every person to help make our communities safe! If we don't then who will? ACUTRAQ encourages you to start screening all of your employees and tenants, including every name they have ever used. You have the power to impact your community! Set the example and others will follow! Make the decision that will protect your tenants and employees. ACUTRAQ is here because we care! We care for you and your surrounding areas. Let ACUTRAQ save you the headache and heartache of potential bad tenants or employees, and start your screening today!

For more information contact ACUTRAQ at 479-677-3355!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How is the government influencing our ability to background check your employee? How could tenant screening be affected in the future?

Background checks are currently under attack by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, familial status (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Additionally, the EEOC has issued a guideline on the use of criminal background reports for employment purposes. That guideline is currently under review and is being revised to place additional requirements on employers who use criminal history records for employment screening purposes. The Commission has held a series of meetings on the use of criminal records and credit reports for employment background screening.

There is recent proposed law aimed at restricting the use of credit and criminal history and may prohibit employers from asking for certain information. There has been recent legal action against both background screening companies and employers for creating a disparity among classes.

For several years, the background screening industry and its clients have been under attack from the EEOC. Now, a new threat to the industry is emerging. Community organizations and their lawyer-allies are proposing to apply this same logic to tenant screening, claiming that use of criminal background checks in the tenant screening process can have a disparate impact on minorities in violation of the Fair Housing Act. They are pressuring the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take a more aggressive posture on this issue and are exploring ways to bring private class action lawsuits against landlords and tenant screening companies. They are also considering local governments to pass a law on limiting the use of criminal background checks in connection with the tenant screening process.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Why Should An Applicant Complete our ACUTRAQ Safety Certification?

Examples of Recent Cases Served
By Thomas C. Lawson, CFE, CII, Expert Witness of Record

Employment/Negligent Hiring/Negligent Retention/Negligent Supervision:

1. Allie v. LA Fitness Orange County Superior Court 70-18-08(California). This was a case where an unscreened applicant was negligently hired by a health club, and was provided keys to the club in order to reside in the club until his apartment was ready to occupy. The day he was hired, he went to a local bar, befriended a just turned 18 year old female, invited she and her girlfriend to the club to go into the Jacuzzi. They went to the club willingly, and the Defendant escorted the Plaintiff to an upstairs locker room where he sexually assaulted her. The case settled after less than 2 hours of the expert‟s deposition testimony (stopped in progress by Defense Counsel) when the tendered settlement offer of $30,000 was increased to $180,000. Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, Kevin Gallagher, Esq.

2. Wishum v. RiteAid Los Angeles Superior Court BC 209910 (California). Case involved the negligent hiring of an autonomous, uniformed Security Guard with a conviction history for Sexual Assault. The Defendant was hired to act as a uniformed Security guard in a satellite Drug Store, without the benefit of a competent background check, even though the company had a policy in place to screen its applicants. Willful non-compliance with the company policy was evidenced by the Company‟s failure to simply validate a California “Guard Card” which was tendered by the applicant during the job interview, and, if researched, would have been determined to have been “revoked” because of prior sexual assault and Arson convictions. Within two weeks of hire, the Defendant sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl. He was administratively “suspended” but continued to remain in his position as autonomous Security Guard, in light of the suspension, at the instruction of his supervisors, while the sexual assault complaint was “investigated”. Shortly after the first assault, the Defendant identified the Plaintiff, a 14 year old girl as a shoplifter, as a ruse to intimidate her. He escorted her to a sequestered, locked interview room, handcuffed her, and sexually assaulted her. Upon arrest and conviction, and after the matter was brought before the Court, an offer in the hundreds of thousands of dollars was tendered by the co-Defendant. After 7 hours of the expert‟s deposition testimony, the co-Defendant increased their settlement offer to an amount in the neighborhood of $2.4 Million (sealed). Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, Brian Panish, Esq. of Greene, Broillet Taylor, Wheeler and Panish

3. Mycom v. Persona Alameda Superior Court CO8024943 (California) This case involved the placement of a temporary worker by the Defendant, into the Plaintiff‟s firm, without the benefit of a background check. The temporary employee embezzled money from the Plaintiff‟s firm, after being placed by a Temporary Agency as an Assistant Controller. Had the Defendant conducted even the most rudimentary background check, which would have included a reference check with a prior employer, it would have learned that the temporary employee had a history of theft. The case settled after the expert‟s opinion was rendered through Declaration, primarily because of the fact that the Defendant touted that it‟s “temps” were “thoroughly referenced and screened”. Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, William P. Davis, Esq.

4. O’Malley v. Camelview Domestic Placement Service/ Carol Hasher (etal) Maricopa County Superior Court CV 2001-004644 (Arizona). This case involved the placement of a male Nanny to care for two male children. The Nanny molested both of the boys, and is currently incarcerated. The Defendant failed to conduct thorough reference checking and background screening, since one of the Nanny's listed references identified in a subsequent interview that the subject had molested her child. The subject had prior convictions for child molestation. The case settled shortly after expert's assessment for an amount between $1 and $2 Million. Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, James R. Page, Esq.

5. Audra F. v. Camelot Park Kern County Superior Court 234190 RA (California). Case detail requested not to be divulged. – Negligent Hiring matter. Case settled after expert's Declaration. Employed by Defense Counsel, Jay Lloyd Rosenlieb, Esq.

6. Perez v. Fitness West Maricopa County Superior Court CV2001-014050 (Arizona). This Negligent Hiring/Negligent Retention case involved a Night Manager/Security Guard hired by the 24-Hour Health Club Defendant. The employee was discovered to have been residing in an abandoned Air Conditioning duct on the roof of the Health Club. Upon discovery of this, the Defendant admonished the employee for living in this manner and asked him to remove himself from the makeshift residence. As a retaliatory act, Plaintiff alleges that the employee sexually assaulted, and murdered (by bludgeoning) a female patron, in the Women's steam room, then wrapped her body in a rug, dragged the decedent into the alley, next to a dumpster and set the rug-wrapped corpse on fire. Upon interviewing the employee, the Phoenix Police Department took him into custody and charged him with the murder. Shortly after the arrest, additional charges for another, unrelated murder were filed against the employee. Plaintiff alleges that the Defendant failed to conduct a routine background check on the subject in the initial hire, and in a subsequent re-activation of his employment with the Health Club, as well as violated it‟s own internal hiring policies which, if followed might have precluded the hiring of the employee, imprimis. The matter was settled after expert‟s deposition. Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, Messrs. Herbert Ely and Burt Rosenblatt, Esq.

7. Johnson v. Totally Secured, Inc. Los Angeles County Superior Court BC 239684 (California). Case involved a determination as to whether or not “reasonable care” was exercised by a Security Guard service to the Stars in the hiring and maintenance of their front line Security guard employees. It was alleged that two security guards were hired with extensive criminal backgrounds, which manifested in the physically aggressive handling of multiple routine security matters, resulting in injury and mistreatment to civilians and employees of client‟s of the Defendant. Two of the co-Defendants had violent acts convictions in their records, which should not have been ignored, and would have been discovered prior to hiring, if a competent background check was undertaken by the Defendant. Case settled after Assessment rendered by Expert. Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, Randy Renick, Esq.

8. Treick v. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Clark County, NV District Court, A493499.
Case involves civil prosecution of the Defendant for Negligently Hiring Larry M. Wisenbaker, referred to by the Clark County District Attorney as “the most prolific serial sex offender we have ever prosecuted in the State”. Wisenbaker is presently serving three consecutive life sentences for the sexual molestation of several boys while serving as a “cottage parent” in this home for disadvantaged children, Case Settled for $5.4 million, Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, G. Dallas Horton, Esq.

9. Perez v.Stanley Bostitch (etal) United States District Court, for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, Civil Action # SV-06-CA-0144-FB.
Case involves a failure to properly screen an autonomously based, vehicle-assigned employee with a history of drunk driving. The employee, while driving a company vehicle, on non-company business during non-regular business hours, was involved in an auto accident, while legally intoxicated which resulted in two deaths. Case Pending, Employed by Plaintiff’s Counsel, Shiree Salinas, Esq.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Do You Use Your Instincts or Do You Screen?

A landlord had two women call about a vacant unit. He asked them the usual questions; “Any evictions?”, “Any bankruptcies?”, “Any convictions?” “Oh no”, they said. He made an appointment with them and even had to leave work early because it was the only time they could see the apartment. They were both very nice, well-dressed personable ladies in their 30’s, and they liked the place. So he asked each of them to fill out an application and write him a check for the $40 screening fee. They started getting evasive. He just stared at them. One said, “Well, maybe we have been evicted a couple of times.” And the other stated, “I have been declared bankrupt, but we thought maybe you’d like us and would just forget about the credit check.” He stared at them again a little longer, and questioned, “What would I find if I did a criminal background check on you two?” All they could do was looked at each other and then they quickly left.

Use ACUTRAQ solutions to make sure you are covering all areas of your background screening. We are here for your advantage. In this day and age, you can’t judge a person merely by their appearance and first impression. Screening your tenants is the only way to get a preview of what you are investing in. It is a big investment to advertise, go through screening process and renting your property. Let ACUTRAQ Background Solutions assist you!! ACUTRAQ is here because we care! We care about you, your business, and your community! So please don’t hesitate making your community a better place, and call ACUTRAQ to handle all your background screening solutions today!

For more information please call 479-677-3355.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tips to Keeping Your Identity Safe!

Due to the ever-increasing cases of identity theft, ACUTRAQ wants to offer you some helpful tips that everyone should be aware of in order to keeping your identity safe!

1.Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'Photo ID Required.'

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, Do not put the complete account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

4. Place the contents of your wallet on photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. Also carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel either here or abroad.

5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation. But here's what is perhaps most important of all:

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: # 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): # 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union: # 1-800-680 7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): # 1-800-269-0271

If you’re interested in Identity theft insurance contact ACUTRAQ today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Your Child's Identity Secure?

For adults, last year alone, 8.1 million Americans became victims of ID theft. While this number is wildly high, it becomes harder to define how many children are actually affected by identity theft because of the fact that most cases go undiscovered for years. However, an identity theft monitoring company, Debix, found an alarming 4,000 cases of tainted identities, out of only 40,000 children.

ACUTRAQ urges parents to follow these important steps to secure their child’s identity:

Be aware of how to obtain your child’s credit report. Getting access to your child’s records is actually a different process than obtaining your own. Your child’s report cannot be obtained using the free credit report website when under the age of 13 and even sometimes for children ages 14 to 18, For parents with children under the age of 13, the easiest way to obtain your child’s records is through Trans Union. If Trans Union says there is no report, odds are good that your child is in the clear. But if there is a report — or you have a specific reason to believe your child is a victim — you'll want to follow up with the nation's other two major credit bureaus — Experian and Equifax — and get a report from them, too.

Recognize the signs of trouble. Watch out for red flags that indicate there might be a problem, such as your son or daughter receiving pre-approved credit card offers or calls from collection agencies.

Know what to do if you suspect that your child has fallen victim. Every parent should check their child’s credit report on their 16th birthday. It’s not good to check it too often, but checking then leaves sufficient time to fix errors and activity before their child goes off to college and tries to obtain financial aid. If suspicious activity arises, parents must contact all three credit bureaus and request a report immediately. From there depending on your state's credit freeze rule, placing a credit freeze should be considered.

For more information on securing your identity, or signing up for Identity Theft Insurance today please contact ACUTRAQ at #479-677-3355! Get Protected NOW!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Demand for Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs Skyrocketing

With bedbugs often very difficult to find, demand for bedbug-sniffing dogs is soaring. The recent nationwide resurgence in the pests has prompted an increasing number of pest control companies to call on specially trained dogs to help locate the bugs and their eggs. At a three-day conference in Philadelphia beginning June 1, the National Pest Management Association and several scent detection firms will be on hand to provide certification to teams of handlers and dogs, along with training for handlers. To obtain certification, the dog and handler must demonstrate they can find mesh-covered vials of five to 20 bedbugs hidden in hotel guest rooms. Experts are reporting the highest incidences in private residences, followed by hotels and motels, college dormitories, laundry facilities, and movie theaters. They believe the resurgence is related to resistance to available pesticides, greater mobility and travel, and lack of knowledge about the pests that were virtually eradicated during the 1940s and 1950s. Because trained dogs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000, some companies have used dogs that were not sufficiently trained.

Digested From "Demand for Bedbug-Sniffing Dogs Skyrocketing"
Washington Post (05/29/11) by Lena H. Sun

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fair Housing Discrimination Questions & Answers

Business owners and property managers need to equip their staff with the right information on how to handle certain situations regarding discrimination. Especially with all of the lawsuits and claims that are going on today due to the increase in discrimination. Your staff needs to know how to recognize and respond to inappropriate questions while talking on the phone, while on the property, or when trying to sell business. Having your people trained can have a big impacted on your business. It can mean having better service, and it can better protect yourself and your company a lot of headache and possibly a lawsuit. Below are some questions and answers that may help avoid a discrimination case in the future.

Questions & Answers:

• Are there many families that live here? Are there any other Hispanics that live here? And the applicant states that it is very important to them.

What you should not say:
• Yes, we do. Or… No, we don’t.

What you should say:
• Just simply tell or explain to the potential renter or buyer that your property has a wide variety of people.

There are 7 protected classes regarding discrimination:
• Race
• Color
• National Origin
• Religion
• Sex
• Disability
• Family Status

There may be others in your city or state, so please be aware of changes made that could impact your property or business. Make sure that ALL employees and staff know how to handle situations when out on a job, maintenance included. Since there are so many different ways and forms of discrimination today, the need to be extra careful is vital. Having the knowledge of just how to react in certain situations, and knowing the correct response to different questions, could benefit the property and business in countless ways.