(1) Ask for a business or other published number, and check the number in www.whitepages.com (reverse phone) or Google it to verify it. Call at an agreed-upon time under an agreed-upon method – for example, “Anne calling from Dr. Levin’s office to confirm an appointment.”
(2) Some clients are high-profile, so you can verify them by Googling them or looking at a company directory. In that case, a business number isn’t necessary (although you may want to call to make certain the man who contacted you actually is the one who works there). You verify the company is legit by double-checking it at Dun & Bradstreet: www.dnb.com/us/.
(3) Often times, people e-mail you from their company addresses, which are often the same addresses as their homepages. When a client is self-employed, and has a website, do a WHOIS search of the website URL here, which spits out the registrant info: www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.html.
If it’s an international client, you can do an international WHOIS here.
If neither of the above are convenient, then:
(4) Two recent references from other independent workers, always getting a physical description from them to make sure he isn’t “borrowing” a buddy’s reference.
There are 3rd party reference and screening services too:
RoomService2000.com (not very popular in NOLA)
Other background-checking methods:
*Attorneys can be found on www.FindLaw.com
*Doctors can be found on www.AMA-Assn.org
*Verify a business website, how long it’s been in existence, etc:
Backcheck info against: www.nsopr.gov
It goes with out saying: don’t leave this information lying around on your computer or in a little black book. Delete it after you’ve had your session.
You can call the hotel front desk and ask them to connect you to the name that the person registered under. And of course, if you don’t ask to see ID, all of this is moot.