RMA Welcomes New Intern

Posted on 5, Sep | Posted by RMA

Nia Singletary has joined the staff of Risk Management Associates as part of an internship opportunity through Meredith College. Nia will be assisting with background investigative services, including maintaining FCRA compliance, conducting employment verification, gathering historical information about applicants, creating complete and accurate reports, and other tasks as needed.

Meredith College, an independent, private women’s college located in Raleigh, NC, offers a transformative educational experience. The College’s rigorous curriculum and leadership development programs prepare graduates for successful lives as engaged global citizens and leaders. Since its opening in 1899, Meredith has expanded to become one of the largest private women’s colleges in the U.S. Campus life at Meredith is shaped by more than 2,100 students representing 35 states and 45 countries.

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Chris Peterson Guest Speaker on Radio Station WCOM 103.5

Posted on 2, Apr | Posted by RMA

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Chris Peterson was the guest speaker on the program “Focus on Business” hosted by Lea Strickland which aired on radio station WCOM 103.5. “Focus on Business” provides insights, information and perspective on building strong businesses, sustainable businesses that build sustainable communities. Guests include area business leaders, experts and professionals who share their experience. If you want to start, expand, grow or repair a business, tune in.

Chris and Lea had a discussion on fraud in the workplace and that a typical company loses 5% of their revenue each year. The discussion expanded to the vulnerability of employees bringing their own electronic devices including phones, tablets and computers into the workplace.

WCOM 103.5 is listener-supported, volunteer-powered community radio station located in Carrboro, North Carolina. The mission of WCOM is to educate, inspire, and entertain the diverse populations of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and nearby areas. They cultivate local music and facilitate the exchange of cultural and intellectual ideas, with particular regard for those who are overlooked or under-represented by other media outlets. They provide a space for media access and education by providing equipment and training to our community. “Focus on Business” airs on Tuesdays from 12:00 – 1:00.

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RMA Presents Continuing Education Training

Posted on 12, Mar | Posted by RMA

RMA presented six hours of training to students in Raleigh, NC, on Monday and Tuesday, March 10 and 11. Rusty Gilmore taught Computer Forensics II, Billy Green delivered A Pragmatic Approach to the Terrorist Threat, and Tasha Dyson presented Report Writing and Documentation. The last presenter of the day was Michael Epperly with Legal Issues for Private Investigators II.

RMA will be presenting six hours of training in Raleigh on April 7, 2014, and April 14, 2014. The classes being offered on Monday April 7, 2014, will be Planning and Conducting a Successful Surveillance presented by Marty Coolidge, Workplace Violence Prevention presented by Billy Green, and Executive Protection presented by Stan Carroll. On Monday April 14, 2014, the classes include Planning and Conducting a Successful Surveillance, Workplace Violence Prevention, and Use of Forensic DNA in Private Investigations presented by Lindsey Smith.

Effective January 1, 2012, all PPSB license holders must have completed 12 hours of approved continuing education credit to qualify for license renewal. RMA has developed training programs that are relevant to practice as a private investigator and protection and security professional and is offering these in one-day seminars. Our goal is to provide opportunities for licensees to obtain the required CEU’s and to provide interesting and relevant instruction on protection and investigative topics. Students can register and pay online on the Continuing Education page of our website.

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The “Fractional” Security Manager

Posted on 12, Mar | Posted by Martin F. Coolidge

The “Fractional” Security Manager:

A Cost Effective Approach to Managing Security

Fractional Security Manager I have met with a large number of business leaders – especially in small business – over the years because of a security issues they faced such as internal theft, threat to executives, employee malfeasance, compliance issues, or other security problems. These issues turned into the need for an investigation and/or an assessment to determine what happened and how to prevent future incidents. What I have observed is that most of these problems could have been prevented through the use of sound security practices. The lack of a competent security plan is usually due to lack of industry knowledge and typically due to the lack of a security manager. By security manager, I mean someone dedicated to the position, not someone simply appointed as such, which seems to be common in many small to medium-sized companies.

Security events are not accidental but are the deliberate actions of employees and/or non-employees who have the motivation to take or destroy an asset because they perceive there is no guardianship over that asset. They often take place without warning, requiring quick-minded response. Sometimes security events can develop from minor issues and failures – security events that might have been avoidable with proper security controls in place.

Security is also about people. It’s not about whether a tree branch may fall onto a roof; it’s about how that tree branch is making it easier to gain access to the roof. It’s about deterrence, target hardening, proactively seeking out security lapses and addressing them, properly investigating the incidents that do occur to resolve them, and identifying and installing safeguards to prevent future such incidents. It includes making security a part of company culture. For this to occur, there has to be a competent level of knowledge of current security issues and practices.

If security is not of high importance to a company, it can expect that some people – employees included – will take advantage of them because they are vulnerable. We have seen high-paid executives steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from their employer because the security lapse was so significant it was too inviting to pass up.

A good security program can reduce a company’s exposure to loss, help make risk more manageable, and increase the safety of employees and visitors. However, a good security program needs an effective security manager. For some companies, this is often not practical. For many small businesses, physical security is limited to the obvious: locking doors at night, installing a few CCTV cameras, and installing intrusion alarms. Unfortunately for many of these companies, this is the extent of their security program, making them more vulnerable and more prone to an incident. Many of them already have a security issue in progress and are not even aware of it.

One approach for a small business is to utilize an existing manager or supervisor and then add security duties to that person’s job description, with or without additional salary. However, a title does not bring industry knowledge and it is not what builds a proper security program. There are too many variables in play to expect a job description to create effective security solutions that protect your company’s assets and economic advantage. A security manager is someone educated, trained, and experienced in applying the principles of security, not a human resource representative that took a few “security” courses. To believe otherwise is to not take security seriously.

Another approach is to hire a security manager with the education, training, and experience to create an effective security program. A security manager can help make a business run more efficiently because security issues are addressed before they become problems, employees and vendors know someone is watching, and problems like workplace violence and internal theft can be minimized. While this is a common business practice for larger companies, it is not cost effective for smaller businesses, whose bottom line is usually fairly thin. Every company could benefit by employing a security manager – some just cannot afford to do so. A security manager is likely to cost around $100,000 per year or more with salary and benefits. This cost is absorbed in large business settings where losses could easily total much more than that. An alternative is to find a security manager willing to work part-time, but it is rare to find someone with the requisite skill-set willing to work part-time. It is difficult enough to find a full-time security manager who individually possesses the expertise necessary to effectively manage all of the aspects of a comprehensive security program.

There is a third approach: “lease” a security manager through a professional service agreement (PSA). This is accomplished by contracting with a security consulting company that can provide a security manager with the education, training and experience needed to competently fulfill the position. In our current economy, many companies are switching to “fractional” titles to save money. A PSA provides an economical and efficient solution to security management needs. It is economical because the cost is a fraction of what it costs to employ a full-time, salaried security manager. It is efficient because a company pays only for the time expended on security-related matters as directed by the company, unlike a full-time security manager that is paid 40 hours per week regardless of how the time is used. Under a PSA a company does not pay a full-time salary and does not pay benefits. With a “leased” security manager the company gets the services of a security professional that can conduct professional security assessments, provide loss control, oversee installation of technology, interview employees, create policies, assist HR during terminations, conduct pre-employment background screening, escort individuals from company property, investigate incidents, liaise with law enforcement when necessary, and provide any other security-related function deemed necessary by the company. Similar to a security manager, the “leased” security manager works for and at the direction of the company. Under a PSA model, companies have a security manager who has “real world” experience. The PSA is tailored to create an effective security program, to fit the company’s culture, and to be cost effective and sustainable.

Another benefit of a PSA agreement is that, depending on the “leasing” organization, the company gets the investigative and administrative support that complements a security and investigations program. This is something large companies with security managers rarely have. With the right organization, the company retains an entire division of security and investigations professionals at their disposal complete with security experts, design experts, and former police investigators, complete with thousands of hours of professional law enforcement, security and military training.

So how does a PSA work? Each PSA is tailored to meet the needs and budget of each individual company. It starts with an evaluation of security needs based on current security posture, trends in the community, company history, vulnerability and exposure, industry, annual hiring rate, and interviews with company officials. A minimum monthly rate that fits the company’s budget – the base rate – is agreed on for which time and expenses are incurred. Services are anything related to security that a company requests, such as workplace violence and other training programs, internal and external investigation, employee investigation, outplacement of terminated employees, background investigations, security assessments, threat assessments, policy development, review/check security systems operations, card readers/keypad systems, CCTV, oversee installation of new systems, creation of security related documents, reports and logs, and many other services. PSAs not only help businesses achieve effective security solutions but they can also be used to provide training and expert security consulting to existing security directors and security managers.

Failure to properly address security is like driving without insurance: you’re gambling your personal worth on a hope that a mistake is not made by you or someone else. Most likely that failure is driven by company economics. With a fractional security manager under a PSA, security management can not only be achieved, it is cost-effective.

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Christine Peterson and Marty Coolidge Present at Institute of Management Accountants Luncheon

Posted on 28, Feb | Posted by RMA

Christine Peterson and Marty Coolidge presented at the IMA NC Triangle Chapter and the Carolinas Council Annual Winter Conference on February, 28, 2014, at the Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, NC. The presentation titled Enemies at the Gate or Are They Already Inside? focused on fraud and abuse in the workplace which costs businesses on average 5% of revenue per year.

IMA is the worldwide association of accountants and financial professionals working in business. They are committed to helping more than 65,000 members to expand professional skills, better manage organizations, and enhance careers. For more than 90 years, IMA has been a champion of – and resource for – the financial management and accounting profession. The organization was founded in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1919 as the National Association of Cost Accountants (NACA) to promote knowledge and professionalism among cost accountants and foster a wider understanding of the role of cost accounting in management.

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Rusty Gilmore Interviewed by WRAL

Posted on 26, Feb | Posted by RMA

An investigation that began in Wake County of nude photos of high school students on Instagram has expanded to at six more North Carolina counties, bringing the total to at least nine, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said Wednesday.

School system representatives have said they are cooperating with authorities in the investigation, and authorities are urging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of posing for or posting sexually explicit photos.

“They have to be made aware that what they do is on there forever,” said Russell Gilmore, a cyber-security specialist with Raleigh-based Risk Management Associates.

“When you share a photograph through a social media website or with a friend, you don’t know where that picture is going,” he said. “You have no clue if it’s being shared with one person or 1,000.”

Read more: SBI now investigating Instagram photos of nude students in nine counties

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What’s missing in your “nationwide criminal search”?

Posted on 31, Jan | Posted by Tasha D. Dyson

One of RMA’s core services is investigations, and we do a lot of pre-employment background investigations. We are often asked if we can include a “nationwide criminal search”, and we explain that there is no such thing as a public, comprehensive, nationwide criminal record check that searches all courts and jurisdictions. They say, “But I can get one for $19.95 from a website. Doesn’t that search everywhere?” RMA decided to take a closer look at an advertised “nationwide criminal search” to see what information is actually included.

One of the vendors we use for investigative information offers a “nationwide criminal search” in addition to a wide variety of other searches. We chose this vendor as an example for a few reasons. First, we use them to verify Social Security numbers and provide address histories. We trust that the data they provide is accurate. Second, they provide a list of what sources are used to create their “nationwide criminal search” which allows us to examine each source separately.

For pre-employment background investigations, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows the reporting of records of arrest within the last seven years and all criminal convictions (no time limit). For positions with an expected annual salary of $75,000 or more, all records of arrest may be reported (no time limit). Using the FCRA as a guide, we examined the results that were provided by the “nationwide criminal search.” We considered the following factors:

  • Do the records include all felony convictions?
  • Do the records include all misdemeanor convictions?
  • Do the records include all traffic convictions?
  • Do the records include all felony arrests or charges within the last seven years?
  • Do the records include all misdemeanor arrests or charges within the last seven years?
  • Do the records include all traffic arrests or charges within the last seven years?
  • Are the records current (less than one month old) or historical?

We took this data (current as of 12/31/2013), made a chart, and mapped the results. The results are below.
criminal records available from vendor

Generally speaking, darker shading means more complete records. For this particular “nationwide criminal search”, the most complete information came from Utah and Oklahoma, where the data is current and they reportedly obtain all felony, misdemeanor, and traffic convictions and arrests/charges. The worst states were Kentucky and South Dakota. In Kentucky, the vendor only reports felony convictions before 2008, meaning that there is no arrest/charge data, no misdemeanor conviction data, no traffic conviction data, and no data from the past five years. In South Dakota, they provide no information at all. (Delaware and Wyoming also report no data, but these two states require fingerprints to conduct criminal record searches.)

There are a few things to remember when considering criminal records:

  • Not every state makes statewide criminal histories available to the public (Example: California).
  • Not every state makes statewide criminal histories available online (Example: Illinois).
  • Some states will not allow name-only searches and require fingerprints (Example: Delaware).
  • Some states have lower courts (municipal, justice of the peace, county, district) that to not report to a single state repository (Example: Ohio).

RMA does not search “nationwide”. We search each location where the subject has lived or worked, individually. When we search for criminal records, we start with the most authoritative source – courts, state police, or administrative authorities. Each state has different laws about what records are available to the public, and all states have a different mechanism for requesting records. Sometimes, the best records are only available by mailing a request.

We then looked at our sources, asked the same questions, and assigned the same shading. In our case, we did not limit searches to “online” and allowed for mailed requests.
criminal records available through RMA

The best results for RMA come from North Carolina. We have a direct connection to the Administrative Office of the Courts and get the same real-time information as a clerk of court. The state with the least information is West Virginia, where we can only access felony convictions. (Again, Delaware and Wyoming report no data, but these two states require fingerprints to conduct criminal record searches.)

The findings:

Is their “nationwide criminal search” faster? Absolutely.
Is it cheaper? Sure.
Does it provide all the criminal information allowed to be reported based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act? No. Results only include the electronic records the state or county makes available to that particular vendor, and there are serious gaps.
Is it comprehensive? Not even close.

criminal records available from vendorcriminal records available through RMA

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RMA Presents Continuing Education Training

Posted on 9, Dec | Posted by RMA

RMA presented six hours of training to students in Raleigh, NC. Marty Coolidge provided training on Planning and Conducting a Successful Surveillance. Billy Green delivered Workplace Violence Prevention. Lindsey Smith presented Use of Forensic DNA in Private Investigations.

Each of these classes is new or has been updated in 2013. All classes have been approved for credit through PPSB.

Effective January 1, 2012, all PPSB license holders must have completed 12 hours of approved continuing education credit to qualify for license renewal. RMA has developed training programs that are relevant to practice as a private investigator and protection and security professional and is offering these in one-day seminars. Our goal is to provide opportunities for licensees to obtain the required CEU’s and to provide interesting and relevant instruction on protection and investigative topics. The next training sessions will be held on June 10 in Raleigh, NC. Students can register and pay online on the Continuing Education page of our website.

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RMA Presents at CSI Week at Meredith College

Posted on 25, Oct | Posted by RMA

Chris Peterson presented Enemies at the Gate – or Are They Already Inside? as part of CSI Week at Meredith College. CSI Week allows students at Meredith to explore career opportunities in law enforcement and related fields. The event is sponsored by the Sociology and Criminology Programs, and the Sociology & Criminology Club (and with the support of Political Science, Accounting, & Social Work).

Other presenters during the week included:

  • Special Agent Jahaira Torrens spoke about Homeland Security Investigations.
  • Cat Flowers, owner of Cat Eye Detective Agency, presented.
  • Police Officer and Social Worker Renea Lockhart spoke about domestic violence and being both an officer and a social worker.
  • U.S. Marshals talked about the work they do tracking down fugitives and other law enforcement activities.
  • Wake Country Prosecutors spoke about their work.
  • RPD Gang Unit talked about their work with gang prevention and dealing with gangs in Raleigh.
  • Crime Scene Analysis, RPD patrol officer, CCBI investigator (the local CSI) and a detective from Raleigh Police talked about how they work and investigate a crime scene.
  • Cary Police Department crime mapping analyst Elise Pierce spoke about her work in the use of Crime Scene mapping to facilitate the work of police in Cary.

Chartered in 1891, Meredith College is one of the largest independent private women’s colleges in the U.S. Meredith also offers coeducational graduate programs in business, education and nutrition, as well as post-baccalaureate certificate programs in pre-health and business, a dietetic internship program, a didactic program in dietetics and a paralegal program. Meredith’s programs – undergraduate and graduate — challenge each individual student to think deeply, push hard, discover new strengths and grow even stronger. Meredith has been cited as one of the “best colleges” in the region and the country by U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review and Forbes.com.

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RMA Presents Continuing Education Training

Posted on 16, Sep | Posted by RMA

RMA presented six hours of training to students in Raleigh, NC. Marty Coolidge provided training on Planning and Conducting a Successful Surveillance. Billy Green delivered Workplace Violence Prevention. New instructor Lindsey Smith presented Use of Forensic DNA in Private Investigations.

Each of these classes is new or has been updated in 2013. All classes have been approved for credit through PPSB.

Effective January 1, 2012, all PPSB license holders must have completed 12 hours of approved continuing education credit to qualify for license renewal. RMA has developed training programs that are relevant to practice as a private investigator and protection and security professional and is offering these in one-day seminars. Our goal is to provide opportunities for licensees to obtain the required CEU’s and to provide interesting and relevant instruction on protection and investigative topics. Students can register and pay online on the Continuing Education page of our website.

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