Before you accept a bunch of cash from applicants who drive up in a BMW to rent a property for a few years, check criminal background reports. Otherwise, you could end up with drug dealers with grow operations as tenants. You may be their next victim!
Today, I am talking to Jason Waggoner of ACUTRAQ, which offers accurate and reliable criminal background reports. He knows what property owners/managers deal with when it comes to tenants and how ACUTRAQ makes a difference in communities.
[01:50] Who is Jason? Started out by fixing and customizing cars to selling vacuums.
[02:40] Buyer’s Remorse? Selling a vacuum to the right person led to ACUTRAQ job.
[05:00] Federal vs. Multi-state Databases: Criminal reports are important, but don’t capture all crimes and court activity.
[07:02] Federal vs. State Crimes: Federal reports include most heinous crimes.
[09:41] Don’t Ask, Don ‘t Tell? Avoid lawsuits and being liable for renting to criminals.
[13:45] Aliases: Know tenants by all their names via social trace for criminal history.
[15:41] Why use ACUTRAQ? What does it offer compared to others? ACUTRAQ specializes in where accurate information comes from and how it’s relayed to landlords.
ACUTRAQ’s Phone: 479- 439-9174
Jason H: Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to the DoorGrow Show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you’re interested in growing your business and life, and you’re open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker.
DoorGrow hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate, high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.
At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.
My guest today is Jason Waggoner of ACUTRAQ. Jason, welcome.
Jason W: Good afternoon, Jason.
Jason H: I’m a little biased but I like your first name.
Jason W: It’s a good one. We had some creativity going on in the 80s.
Jason H: Yeah. There’s a lot of Jason, a lot of them. Let’s get into this. First, I want to get in your background a little bit. How you got connected to the industry, how you got connected into doing ACUTRAQ. Give us a little bit of background for those listening on who is Jason.
Jason W: Very fun story there. I started when I was 18, I actually went to school for autobody to learn how to work on cars, fix wreck cars, customize cars, […] did that, got out of that, winning the sales. Years later, I was actually in between jobs at the moment and besides, this was in 2006. For 20–25 days, I sell vacuums while I was putting in resumes and different things. Thought nothing of it, got another job in inside sales.
A month later, I went back to doing that. Two years later, Jeannie Baker, the owner of ACUTRAQ, calls me and ask me if I’m still doing sales and said that I had sold her a vacuum cleaner two years prior to this and wanted to go to lunch. We went to lunch, she had a great product, and believed in it. My father-in-law inherited a rental property. The things that he went through over the course of that first year, he ended up selling it and getting away from it. This was when I was young, 17–18-ish.
After seeing him go through that and seeing what products she had that could have prevented it, it just made a home seem like a lot more. That was in 2008. I’ve been with her ever since and since then, the company has grown. We used to just be in a few states, now we’re all in the lower 48 states with offices throughout the country and a staff of about 12 in Arkansas. Just good, consistent growth over the years. We love what we do, we love making a difference in the community. That’s how I get hooked up in ACUTRAQ. It’s not the normal story you hear from people.
Jason H: You sold her a vacuum?
Jason W: Yeah.
Jason H: You sold her a vacuum and she was so impressed at how you sold her the vacuum. She didn’t have buyer’s remorse. She wanted to have more of you, she wanted you to work for her. This is great.
Jason W: She got up that morning and looked over the corner and thought, “I know who my salesman is.”
Jason H: That vacuum was an anchor. Every time she saw that vacuum, she’s like, “That guy sold me. I need somebody like that.” It’s interesting because as entrepreneurs, we’re always looking for the person that’s going to help us with the thing that we’re weak at.
Jason W: Right.
Jason H: You filled a gap for her.
Jason W: Definitely, yeah. She had done it for 10 years by herself at that point and had grown where she physically can’t do it by herself anymore. A lot of planning, a lot of sleepless nights, we’ve been somewhat successful in growing this business and creating something that she started back in 1998 and just continuing to watch it grow.
Jason H: The topic at hand, the title of this episode is Everything You Need to Know About Federal Criminal Reports. Let’s talk about what we need to know.
Jason W: The federal criminal reports are important and a lot of people don’t understand the difference between what most landlords run, meaning a multistate database and they sound similar. Multistate, federal, you think all the federal just covers all those different states. The reality of it is, the multistate database is what most landlords run. It has a lot of holes in it, it has States that don’t even report to that database.
For instance, New York, they report to the Department of Corrections but not their County data. Massachusetts has its own system called the iCORI system. There are holes in it but those are derived from state repositories from the Department of Corrections from different places like that. Let’s say I get in trouble. I’m in Houston, Texas. If I get in trouble here, I go to Harris County, they book me in and if I get convicted, if I do prison time, I’m going to do it in a Texas state prison.
The difference with the federal criminal report is it’s a different set of courts. Let’s say I do that same crime. Let’s just use drugs, for instance. Let’s say, I do drugs and I traffic those drugs, now, I go to Louisiana, to Alabama, to Mississippi. I went across state lines. That’s a federal charge now. I’ve messed up not only in my state but federally and that would be trialed in a different set of courts.
Most landlords and even some employers do not get those federal court records because it’s a smaller percentage. It’s 8%–10% which is still a big chunk but the type of our crimes that are tried there are embezzlement, kidnapping, bank robbery, crimes against animals, child pornography, a lot of crimes. If a landlord knew that person had been convicted recently or maybe even in the past, it may change their decision on whether or not they would rent to that person. Most people don’t know those records exist.
The reality is, most landlords have probably placed somebody that had previously robbed a bank or an ATM, or somebody that had previously been convicted of kidnapping or embezzlement, things of that nature. A lot of computer crimes regarding identity, identity theft, things of that nature. The thing about the federal crimes that there may not be as many but they’re all the crazy ones. They’re all the ones that if that person had committed that type of crime, it would definitely change the decision.
Jason H: They’re the worst.
Jason W: Right. That’s the difference in those federal criminal reports. We offer them as an upsell to our clients for an extra $5. Whoever people are using, it would be wise to go back to their provider and say, “Hey, am I getting this federal criminal report? Can you show me that we’re pulling that report?” because there are a lot of heinous crimes that can be committed under the federal level.
Jason H: I just want to point this out because I thought this was really funny, that you’re using an example of somebody committing crimes and you used yourself. You did this. You’re like, “Let’s say, I do this and I commit this crime.” Most people do, “Let’s say there’s a guy named Fred.”
Jason W: Allegedly.
Jason H: Allegedly. Here’s what’s funny. When I met you at the conference, you were this half criminal, half business suit costume like this thing. Sometimes, you even said you shaved half of your beard and you’re like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or two-faced.
Jason W: Yes. At the Florida conference, the NARPM conference, the beard was just coming in. I couldn’t quite get the half shaven down and make it look presentable. That piece, it really shed some light on what people come in looking like because we actually had applicants that showed up in BMW, with a briefcase full of money, and wanted to pay for the next two years in cash. Then, you look them up and they are known drug trafficker, they’ve been involved in grow operations and everything else, and you were going to be their next victim.
Without running that report, you never see the criminal side of what they’re bringing into that rental property because somebody’s not going to buy a house and then trash it, do that stuff, dig down to the electric pole, and tunnel in all the things that it takes. They’re going to do that to a rental property and then hit the road as soon as they have everything they need.
Jason H: Do you think some property managers would just rather keep their heads in the sand, kind of don’t know, don’t ask, don’t tell? You think there’s some that are like, “I’d rather just not do this extra work. I’d rather just not know. If that happens, I did something and they just didn’t show up on that so I’m absolved.” What would you say to those that they’re thinking about listening to this, “I don’t want to do extra work.”
Jason W: The thing about it is, let’s say somebody moves in to that property and does something crazy, commits a crime. We’ve seen this before, it’s the same way with our property managers. There’s a lot of their stories that sound like sales pitches but they’re really not. They’re crazy stories that happened and they want to do whatever they can to help somebody avoid those again.
Let’s say somebody does something heinous in a property. The first thing that the courts are going to do is go back to the person that leased that property and say, “Who put this person in there? What checks did you take to ensure the safety of the community around you?” Typically, they think that the homeowner has the deepest pockets. When something goes crazy, who’s the first person they sue? The homeowner.
It may trickle down the line if there’s a property management company involved, but the ones that are just out here doing it think maybe something is going on but like you said, they don’t care enough to go to the motions. Whatever they do there is their business. It can be really scary, the things that we’ve seen. For the homeowner’s side, everything can be scary from the investment. You’re looking at this company as an investment. So, if you get somebody that goes in and guts it down the studs, and puts all the stuff that they need in there to do, to set that house up for whatever they’re setting it up for.
Just to give you an idea, the things that go on, I’m actually in Kingwood, Texas which is the Northeast tip of Houston, Texas. Suburbs, everybody pretty much deems it a safe community. We let our kids play in the street. Last week, there was 79 arrest made from a sex trafficking operation. 79 people. How big that operation must be to arrest 79 people that are involved in?
Jason H: They just said, “Let’s pick a really safe community. We’re going to fly under the radar there probably.” Those property managers aren’t using ACUTRAQ so we’re going to get away with this.
Jason W: Right and even some of those. Those people are legit on paper and the career criminals know how to get by those background checks and we put everything in place in ours from identity alerts. We’ve tried to add a lot of things to try to catch these people when they’re doing this. The reality of it is though, they’re going to do it in rental property.
If you get a property manager, I’m not even a property manager, in most cases, they’re doing background checks. Let’s say you get a home-based landlord, they just have six rental properties and the first one finds out that they don’t do background checks or anything, as soon as one of their properties come open, “Hey, let me know if you have anything open. I’ve got somebody I know needs to rent a house, too, and I love recommending you.” It just goes that line.
Jason H: “I’ve got four other criminal friends that would love a place.”
Jason W: Yeah. “Landlord Johnny here does no background checks. It doesn’t take long for those properties, the value and everything.
Jason H: Let’s drive this home to our target audience here. The property management business owners listening, they’ve got hundreds of rental properties. If somebody has figured out how to game their system, they don’t really cover this check in this state. If we’ve done stuff in this state, we can fly under the radar. They’re only running this light-level background. We get the pick of the litter. They got 20 properties available for lease, that just beat them up.
Jason W: Yeah, it can happen. That’s the thing. For instance, when you run that background check—this is for anybody that’s in this world—you need to know the people or the person’s past alias names. If somebody’s been married three times, you need to actually run the married name and all three married names to get an accurate representation of that person’s criminal history. If they changed their lives name, they change their date of birth, that’s the only way criminal history is ran for a tenant’s screen is by name and date of birth.
The career criminals, let’s say they say they know they have criminal history but it slides by, they automatically know that they either typo-ed something in it and it slid by, or they changed something on purpose and it got through. The next time they tell their people, “Make sure to change your data birth, your last names.” If my last name’s Waggoner, I may put it down on paper as Wagner. Even if they’re looking at my license, if they’re not matching it up right beside each other, it looks close enough that Jason Waggoner, Jason Wagner, it’s all the same. That would cause a criminal hit to miss in most cases.
The best thing to do is there’s a search called a social trace and we put everything we have just because of how important it is but if somebody’s not getting it, ask your provider about the social trace because it provides all the past alias names that that person has used with their social. If you signed up for a cell phone and utility, anything you had to put your social down, it’s actually stored with that name used and the address used. That helps a lot in finding the alias names when people are trying to tell you they don’t have any.
This is the only name I’ve ever had. No, you’ve had two other ones and then, one nickname that you used as alias, too. Running those can make a difference. The career criminals, once they find the loophole, once they find the window or door opened, it’s just like a house. They’ll crawl through and they’ll their other friends to come right behind them.
Jason H: It’s party time.
Jason W: Yeah.
Jason H: Okay. There’s a lot of different screening services out there. Help those listening. I’m sure a lot of them have something that maybe came with AppFolio or they got something with Rent Manager, something with Buildium, something with Propertyware. For those listening, why should they use ACUTRAQ? Help them understand what’s the contrast between what they had typically and what you’re going to do for them.
Jason W: You bet. In Rent Manager, we’re actually an affiliate of, some other software, too. Typically, the reason somebody will go outside of their software to use us for these reasons. The background check is a no way an afterthought. Not only that, if your applicants have trouble, they call us if they have a dispute. That’s one of the big things.
With tenant screening, it’s making sure your applicants have a way to dispute the information because you can have a Junior and a Senior. Senior’s been arrested 10 times, been in prison his whole life. Junior didn’t know him growing up.
Jason H: Junior’s a good kid.
Jason W: Senior’s criminal history still keeps showing up on Junior’s report. Every time he gets an application for an apartment, he has to go through the whole process. “That was my dad. It’s not my criminal history.” Having a way to dispute that, it can mean them having housing or not having housing with those reports being accurate. If something like that does come up. Having that documented and being able to help him is one of the biggest things.
The support side of things, that’s what we do, is background checks, there’s nothing else on our plate. The biggest reason is to have a third party, unbiased source outside of your company, outside of your software, all these people do are background checks and if something goes wrong, you could bet that we’ll have your back and search through it, anything at all. That’s the difference of having somebody that does that and having that as just an ancillary service.
Jason H: It’s probably fair to say if their intuition is saying something’s off about somebody but everything comes back clean, maybe they should put you to the test and see if you come up with something that […].
Jason W: We love the […]. The other thing too is not a lot of companies can staff and have people to make the phone calls to the landlords and employers. With our full premium report, you’ll get an employment verification plus the current landlord and the prior landlord.
You’d be surprised that the different reports we get from one landlord that’s trying to get rid of them currently and the one from a year ago that lays it all out and lets you know what’s coming. With those added, it really just helps give a better representation of how that applicant’s going to act in that property and how they’re going to pay rent and all that good stuff, everything to do with their character.
Jason H: We talked a little bit about why they should use ACUTRAQ and what makes it a little bit different. What are some of the typical questions a property manager might ask you about ACUTRAQ went during the sales process? You’re the sales guy, I’m sure you dealt with some objections. What are some of the typical questions that you get for those that are listening?
Jason W: We generally start with the application process. They want to know about that. Onboarding the applicants and how that process works. The biggest thing with the process is the application in our eyes because that’s where it starts. That’s the first thing that an applicant sees of your company, if you’re a landlord, and whether they’re doing it, the software’s doing it, or a third party like ACUTRAQ. That’s the first phase of the company. That needs to be a smooth process, the relationship, you get off on the right hand.
The other thing is they typically want to see an itemized list of everything that’s going to be on that background report. You think we’re getting a criminal report. What does all that include? There are a number of different things that should be included on that and I hope most everybody listening is getting these with their provider, but of course, it’s the 50 State Sex Offender search. It’s the social trace that we talked about that has the alias names.
The OFAC which is very important nowadays and that’s the Office of Foreign Asset Control. They are the ones that have the terrorist database searches, the terrorist watchlist. Anything to do as far as that goes, that’s where that information is going to come from and it’s OFAC. A lot of people want to know about that one because everybody wants to make sure that we’re not housing some terrorist cell in the middle of Houston or Atlanta Georgia, somewhere like that.
The FBI most wanted list. That’s another thing that’s included that we forget to talk about a lot of time or the FBI most wanted list, the DEA most wanted list. Something a lot of people don’t know is every major city has their own list for those. Along with the Top 10, every major city has their Top 10. Searching for those, understanding where the data comes from, and what you’re getting like we were talking about name and date of birth only. So many people think it’s tied to a social or driver’s license number, or something like that, but in reality, it’s not.
The police officers and firemen are the only ones that have access to what we call the National Crime Information Center. Unfortunately, landlords don’t have that luxury. Understanding where the information comes from, how important it is to make that decision can literally mean life and death from somebody on the block if you house a violent person in there, if you house a sex offender or something in that nature.
That’s a lot of the questions that we get. Spanish speaking, that’s getting to be more and more prevalent, so we did add that a year-and-a-half ago. We do have bilingual staff. A lot of different things like that. What we specialize in is where the information comes from, how do we relay that back to the landlord in an accurate manner.
Jason H: All right. So ACUTRAQ is your sole focus, is doing this screening, and you have these itemized lists, lots of different sources that you’re going to be checking like OFAC. It goes well above and beyond what they’re typically going to get. You integrate with some property manager software like Rent Manager.
Jason W: Yes.
Jason H: I think I gave a light summary there, some of the pluses. This sounds like a really cool thing. How can people get in touch with ACUTRAQ?
Jason W: acutraq.com. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, that goes to myself and the owners so we will reach back out to you directly. The website is the best way. If you want to call us, feel free to give us a call at (479) 439-9174. That would be the corporate office in Fayetteville, Arkansas and I’m out in the Houston, Texas office.
Jason H: You guys are making property management safer for the property managers that are the boots on the ground, you’re making neighborhoods safer, and in general you’re helping property management have a better reputation. I appreciate that.
Jason W: That’s our goal.
Jason H: Awesome. Thanks for coming on the DoorGrow Show.
Jason W: Thank you.
Jason H: All right. You guys check it out, ACUTRAQ.
If you’re a property management entrepreneur and you felt like your website might be a little bit leaky, you’re just not seeing enough business come through, you think you need more lead, if you just had more leads, everything will be better, it’s not leads. Leads are not your problem. You’ve got leaks in your sales pipeline. Leaks are at the very front end of the pipeline. If you’ve got leaks throughout it that are causing attrition and without even changing your lead sources, if you’re shore up all those leaks, leaks of trust, you can have more business coming out.
You’re getting some business now. It’s not hard to double it just by reducing the friction that’s happening at every stage in your sales pipeline. Reach out to us at DoorGrow, that’s what we specialize in. We also can clean up your property management website, that’s what we specialize in. I don’t believe that anybody does better property management websites than DoorGrow. Our focus in not on trying to manipulate Google and with search volume is relatively low and it always has been for property management. Our goal is to facilitate greater trust which helps you close more deals and that’s really what your website is for. It’s a trust indicator.
People don’t buy property management. What they really want to buy from you is safety and certainty. That’s what they want to buy. You can create more of that through your website, through your branding, through your sales process, through your pricing strategy, through your reputation online. We’ll help you get these things optimized so that your business can grow. Check the site site of doorgrow.com. Until next time, everybody, to our mutual growth.
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