Investigators Guide to Sources of Information

Chapter 4
Electronic Databases

  • Other Databases



    The Canadian Interface is a semiautomated link between law enforcement information networks of the United States and Canada. It allows the 50 states, federal agencies that are members of the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, and their Canadian counterparts to exchange police information through the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, using the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in Washington and Ottawa as the necessary interface.

    See the discussion in this chapter on the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System for the type of information available from the Canadian Interface.


    CIS is an INS system that assists in locating files that contain information on legal immigrants, naturalized citizens, and aliens who have been formally deported or excluded. CIS also contains information on some aliens who have come to the attention of INS because of an investigation or an application for benefits. Available information usually includes name, birthdate, nationality, applicable INS files control office, date of entry, and immigration status. The immigration status should not be considered definitive unless confirmed by an INS officer.

    Local INS offices or the El Paso Intelligence Center can provide directions to the appropriate state coordinator. Requests may be made by providing either a file number or name and birthdate. The El Paso Intelligence Center is discussed further later in this chapter.

    Also, see the discussion in this chapter on INS' Law Enforcement Support Center, the point of contact for federal, state, and local criminal justice agencies that want to know the immigration status of a suspect alien arrested for committing an aggravated felony.


    The Department of State's CLASS consists of an automated database of several million names including those of aliens who have been found ineligible for visas; those whose visa applications require a Department of State opinion prior to issuance; and those who might be ineligible for a visa should they apply for one. CLASS also includes the network of telecommunication lines linking diplomatic posts to the Washington, D.C. computer and the terminals used for CLASS access at posts abroad.


    DCII is the automated central repository that identifies investigations conducted by DOD investigative agencies and personnel security determinations made by DOD adjudicative authorities.

    DCII is an unclassified system that is operated and maintained by the Defense Investigative Service. Access is limited to DOD and other federal agencies with adjudicative, investigative, and/or counterintelligence missions. Information contained in the DCII is protected by the Privacy Act of 1994.

    The DCII database consists of an alphabetical index of names and titles of individuals that appear as subjects, cosubjects, victims, or cross-referenced incidental subjects in investigative documents maintained by DOD criminal, counterintelligence, fraud, and personnel security investigative activities. In addition, personnel security determinations are maintained, by subject, in DCII.


    EPIC is a cooperative established to collect, process, and disseminate intelligence information concerning illicit drug and currency movement, alien smuggling, weapons trafficking, and related activity. Staffed by personnel from 15 federal agencies, its primary functions are (1) to disrupt the flow of illicit drugs at the highest trafficking level through the exchange of time-sensitive, tactical intelligence dealing principally with drug movement and (2) to support, through the intelligence process, other programs of interest to EPIC's participating agencies, such as alien smuggling and weapons trafficking.

    EPIC is mandated to support local law enforcement entities with drug intelligence, all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, District of Columbia, U.S. Forest Service, National Marine Fisheries, Bureau of Prisons, Amtrak, and DOD through South COM, Joint Interagency Task Force, East and West, and Joint Task Force 6.

    The EPIC member agencies include DEA, INS, Customs, Coast Guard, ATF, FAA, USMS, FBI, IRS, Secret Service, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and DOD. Member agencies have direct access to all EPIC information, with appropriate safeguards to provide for the protection and/or secure communication of highly sensitive or classified information. State and local law enforcement entities have access to EPIC data through a designated group within the respective organization or through a member agency.

    EPIC can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-USE-EPIC (873-3742).


    EDGAR accelerates the receipt, acceptance, dissemination, and analysis of time-sensitive corporate information filed with the SEC. It performs automated collection, validation, indexing, acceptance, and forwarding of submissions by companies and others who are required by law to file forms with the SEC. Not all documents filed with the SEC by public companies will be available on EDGAR for the following reasons: some documents are not yet permitted to be filed electronically, some submissions are voluntary, other documents may be filed manually, and filings by foreign companies are not required to be filed on EDGAR. Public filings to the SEC can be viewed on the SEC home page within 48 hours of being filed.


    FPDC is a convenient source of consolidated federal buying information. It has governmentwide procurement information beginning with fiscal year 1979. The FPDC master file contains detailed data regarding the procurement actions of 60 federal agencies. The system can provide a wide variety of information about federal buying. It contains 24 data elements, including the name of the agency that awarded the contract; contract number including order and or modification number; purchase office and address; date of award; principal product or service; and the name and address of the contractor. A standard report is published each quarter which examines the data from a variety of perspectives.


    Formerly titled the Identification Division Records System, the FBI's FIRS performs identification and criminal history record information functions and maintains those records for (1) federal, state, local, and foreign criminal justice agencies, (2) noncriminal justice agencies, and (3) other entities. It also provides identification assistance during disasters and for other humanitarian purposes. FIRS represents (1) individuals fingerprinted as a result of arrest or incarceration, (2) persons fingerprinted as a result of federal employment applications or military service, (3) persons fingerprinted for alien registration and naturalization purposes, and (4) individuals who want their fingerprints on record with the FBI for personal identification purposes. In addition to the criminal records of about 24 million people in the automated file, there are approximately 10 million older records in the manual files.


    ICTS, located at USNCB in Washington, D.C., contains information about persons, property, and organizations involved in international criminal activity. USNCB can determine the existence of an international connection to an investigation or of any previous international criminal activity.


    The III system contains information on criminal records of about 24 million people who were born in 1956 or later and have an FBI record. The system also contains information on persons born prior to 1956 whose first arrest was recorded with the FBI in 1974 or later, and selected older records for certain fugitives and repeat offenders. See the discussion on the National Crime Information Center in this chapter.


    JMIE--a consortium of U.S. government agencies from the law enforcement and intelligence communities--has developed a consolidated maritime database. Consortium members are the Office of Naval Intelligence, Military Sealift Command, DEA, Department of State, Executive Office of the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy, Customs, Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, Department of Energy, Defense Intelligence Agency, INS, and National Security Agency.

    The system includes information on maritime-related law enforcement and national foreign intelligence data to meet members' operational missions, such as narcotics interdiction, smuggling, sea and defense zone surveillance, border control, petroleum traffic monitoring, and emergency sealift management.

    Approximately 35 operational sites allow access to data sources that provide at-sea and in-port location information and characteristics on commercial and private vessels and vessel registration files for Florida, California, Delaware, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.


    INS' LESC--located in South Burlington, Vermont--provides information on aliens who have been arrested. The center's staff queries six INS databases in responding to requests from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Direct access to the center is available from the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because of the sensitive nature of the information provided by LESC, it can only be accessed by agencies authorized to request criminal record information over the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System.


    The List is maintained by GSA for the use of federal programs and activities. Issued monthly, it identifies those parties excluded from receiving (1) federal contracts or certain subcontracts and (2) certain types of federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits.


    NADDIS inquiries should be limited to narcotics-related cases or files, smugglers of funds, other contraband, and aliens. NADDIS is accessible through EPIC and local DEA offices.


    NAILS is an INS index of names of individuals who may be excludable from the United States. All names in NAILS are passed to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), which is discussed later in this chapter. Therefore, a search of NAILS is not necessary if TECS has been searched.


    NCIC is a widely used law enforcement computer system. Most major law enforcement agencies have NCIC connections.

    NCIC is often compared to a large "file cabinet," with each file having its own label or classification. This cabinet of data contains information concerning the following:

    The NCIC, through the Interstate Identification Index (III) system, can provide an investigator with information on the criminal records of about 24 million people. See the discussion on III in this chapter.


    NLETS is a sophisticated message-switching network that links all law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in the United States; Puerto Rico; and, through a computerized link, to INTERPOL Canada. Agencies include state and local law enforcement agencies, motor vehicle and licensing departments, and a wide variety of federal enforcement agencies. The latter includes Customs, FBI, DOJ, Secret Service, USMS, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Department of State, Department of the Army, and Department of the Interior. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is also linked to NLETS.

    A great deal of information is available through the network, including the following:

    Through an interface to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Canadian Police Information Centre, many files are available, including the following:

    Users have the capability to send free-form messages to other users either individually or via a broadcast message.


    NTC, a branch of the Firearms Enforcement Division of ATF, provides 24-hour assistance to ATF field offices and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Using ATF's Firearms Tracing System, NTC systematically tracks firearms used to commit crimes from their place of manufacture to the place of sale.


    The Center is dedicated to supporting law enforcement in the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of economic crimes and computer-related crimes. The Center has a database system that contains information on individuals and businesses suspected of economic criminal activity, including advanced fee loan schemes, credit card fraud, computer fraud, and securities and investment fraud. It can be contacted at (800) 221-4424 or (804) 323-3563.


    NIIS is an INS system that contains information on the arrivals and departures of nonimmigrants, or aliens entering the United States for a temporary stay. Canadians and Mexicans who visit for pleasure are not entered into the system. NIIS also contains entry and departure data on students, except classes Fl and Ml. Information can be queried and retrieved by nationality, port of entry, admission class, and date of entry.

    See the discussion on the Central Index System in this chapter.


    More than 4,500 local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are members of RISS. Comprised of 6 regional projects, RISS operates in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

    Although the following RISS projects focus on the overall objective noted above, each project is allowed individuality in its choice of multijurisdictional crimes to target and in its range of services by which to support member agencies.


    This on-line service is maintained by the Library of Congress and its Congressional Research Service (CRS).


    Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the Securities Information Center operates SEC's Lost and Stolen Securities Program. The Center maintains a central database that receives and processes reports and inquiries about missing and stolen securities. Established in 1977 to reduce trafficking in lost, stolen, and counterfeit securities, the Center is used by investment professionals. The Center's database currently consists of reports of lost, stolen, and counterfeit certificates.


    Sentry is a Federal Bureau of Prisons on-line database that contains information on all federal prisoners incarcerated since 1980. The information includes physical description, inmate profile, inmate location or release location, numerical identifiers, personal history data, security designation, past and present institution assignments, custody classification, and sentencing information. To obtain information, contact the Sacramento Intelligence Unit.


    SPICIN is a law enforcement program of the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Organization comprising 21 member countries of American Samoa, Australia, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Guam, Kiribati, the Kingdom of Tonga, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua - New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Western Samoa.

    The primary purpose of SPICIN is to promote the gathering, recording, and exchanging of information not otherwise available through normal channels. Information made available concerns drug trafficking, mobile criminals, organized/white collar crime, terrorism, the use of the Pacific Island waters and aircraft, and other information of a criminal nature that concerns law enforcement in the Pacific region and elsewhere.

    In addition to the 21 member countries, SPICIN can provide assistance to the national and international law enforcement communities regarding


    TECS is a Department of the Treasury system managed by Customs. It was designed to provide controlled access to a large database of information about suspects and to interface with a number of other law enforcement systems. These capabilities are provided to TECS users through various applications, including the following.



    ALR, which began operations in 1991, is a private international information clearinghouse on stolen art and antiques that offers several services to the art community, law enforcement, and the insurance industry. The register contains a database of over 80,000 items reported as stolen or missing by INTERPOL, state and local police, insurance companies, the FBI, foreign governments, private collectors, art dealers, and museums. Prospective art buyers may check the ALR to see whether a proposed purchase is stolen property before buying a work of art. Also, theft victims and law enforcement officials may register stolen works of art in the database.

    Shareholders in the ALR include the IFAR, Sotheby's, Christie's, Phillips, Nordstern Insurance, Aon Corporation, the Society of Fine Auctioneers, and the British Antique Dealers Association. ALR can be reached at (212) 391-8791.


    CDB Infotek is an on-line source of public records, including more than 3 billion records collected from local, county, and state governments all across the United States; the federal government; and various businesses.


    CyberHound Online provides information on databases, discussion groups, libraries, companies, people, associations, and newspapers that have home pages on the Internet. Each entry includes name; access paths, including gopher, telnet, file transfer protocol, electronic mail, and web addresses; and description of the site. CyberHound covers all subject areas accessible via the Internet and is international in scope.


    DataStar, a service of Knight-Ridder Information, Inc. provides worldwide access to over 350 databases and focuses on business data. Information available includes directory-type listings of companies or associations, company financial statements, bibliographic citations, and the complete text of journal articles. Subscribers can reach DataStar databases at its home page or via telnet.


    Deluxe ChexSystems provides data on over 11 million individuals and businesses that have had their account closed for cause by their financial institution due to fraud or abuse. Reasons include automatic teller machine fraud, check kiting, and writing checks on closed accounts. Records on abused accounts are maintained for 5 years.


    DIALOG is a Knight-Ridder Information, Inc. service that provides access to over 450 on-line databases and more than 45 CD-ROM titles. DIALOG provides professional librarians and researchers with access to articles, conference proceedings, news, and statistics from many subject areas, such as scientific, technical, medical, business, trade, and academic disciplines. It also has access to over 100 full-text newspapers worldwide as well as thousands of magazines and journals.


    This on-line directory contains information on more than 1.1 million U.S. business establishments with 10 or more employees. Data provided includes company name, address, and telephone number; type of business, chief executive officer, company status, and subsidiary; language preference and geographic codes; number of employees at a given location and total number of employees; and total sales volume.


    Equifax provides credit and commercial information, card processing, check authorization, analytics and consulting, and financial software. Some of the services provided by the Equifax subsidiary CDB Infotek for locating persons or businesses in the United States follow.


    Experian, which replaced TRW Information Systems and Services, provides services on consumer and business credit, direct marketing, and real estate information services. Key Experian services include credit card processing, risk management, and target marketing. Some of these services follow.


    Global Scan USA Inc. is now an integral part of the Equifax Europe group of companies. It has been developing its position in the on-line, business information arena since its formation in 1991. Global Scan is a multilingual (10 languages), multinational on-line gateway service providing subscribers with (1) a way to access credit reports and financial statements on any public or private company in the world and (2) country reports, including political and trade reports and country filing requirements.


    Information America, an affiliate of West Publishing, offers on-line databases and document services that can be used to obtain background data about businesses, locate assets and people, and retrieve official public records. It can also provide ownership and financial information on businesses. Information America can be reached on the Internet or by calling (800) 532-9876.


    IBM Internet Connection is a large international provider of on-line services that offers its subscribers Internet connection services, electronic mail, newsgroups, and business services. In addition, it provides more than 860 dial-in numbers in approximately 50 countries.


    A division of Reed Elsevier Inc., the LEXIS full-text legal information service contains major archives of federal and state case law, continuously updated statutes of all 50 states, state and federal regulations and public records from major states, and international legal materials from selected countries. LEXIS Public Records Online service provides on-line access to information from selected states about real and personal property assets, Uniform Commercial Code liens, secretary of state corporation filings, verdicts and settlements, and court indices and dockets. The NEXIS news and business information service contains more than 7,100 sources, 3,700 of which provide their entire publications on-line. These include the full text of regional; national; and international newspapers, news wires, magazines, trade journals, and business publications. NEXIS service is the exclusive on-line archival source for The New York Times in the legal, business, and other professional markets. Also available are brokerage house and industry analyst reports and public records such as corporate filings, company records, and property records.


    MetroNet, implemented by Metromail Corporation, specializes in consumer and business information. MetroNet provides on-line access to Metromail's National Consumer Databases for the following purposes:


    NCMEC is a private, nonprofit organization--mandated by the Congress--that works in cooperation with DOJ's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It is a vital resource for law enforcement agencies throughout the United States in the search for missing children and the quest for child protection. NCMEC operates a 24-hour, toll-free hotline for the recovery of missing children in cooperation with DOJ. It also operates a 24-hour, toll-free child pornography tipline in cooperation with Customs and the Postal Inspection Service. Additionally, NCMEC handles for the Department of State, applications that seek the return of or access to children abducted and brought to the United States under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Among its services is a National Computer Network linked via online services with 49 state clearinghouses, the District of Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, New Scotland Yard in the United Kingdom, Belgium Gendarmerie, Netherlands Police, Australia National Police, INTERPOL, Secret Service Forensic Services, and the Department of State. The network allows the instant transmission of images and information on missing child cases. The NCMEC can be contacted at 1-800-THE-LOST.


    NFIC--a project of the National Consumers League--helps consumers report fraud and offers advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. Incident reports are entered in the NFIC database and referred electronically to the National Electronic Fraud Database administered by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Attorneys General. NFIC incident reports are also referred to a variety of federal and state regulatory and enforcement agencies--the FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, SEC, and U.S. Attorneys.


    NICB, a national, not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization established in 1992, is supported by approximately 1,000 property/casualty insurers and self-insured companies. The bureau maintains an on-line computer database of 300 million records that assists law enforcement officials and insurance investigators and claims personnel in detecting fraudulent insurance claims and identifying stolen vehicles. NICB also has an investigative force of 200 experienced special agents who team up with insurance investigators and law enforcement officials to uncover and prosecute vehicle theft and insurance fraud. To obtain more information and access to NICB, call 1-800-447-6282.


    Questel-Orbit, an international on-line information company, has files on patent, trademark, scientific, chemical, business, and news information.


    Standard & Poor, a McGraw-Hill company, offers access to a variety of information about companies. For an Internet link to more information about several Standard & Poor resources, the McGraw-Hill Internet site offers a starting point. Some Standard & Poor information is also available as printed directories, some of which are discussed in chapter 3.


    Trans Union is an international consumer credit information company whose products include credit reports, credit and insurance risk scoring models, target marketing systems, preemployment evaluation reports, skip tracing and search tools, collection services, customized lists, and transaction services. Some of the search services follow.


    USDatalink provides access to individuals' credit reports, criminal records, education, workers' compensation claims, and employment histories. A people locator service can search for individuals using social security numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, and surnames. USDatalink also gives information on vehicles from automobiles to airplanes. The database contains information on numerous companies including asset reports, in-depth general reports, and case records. USDatalink provides access to background checks, and other information reports, from public record repositories and proprietary databases throughout the United States.


    Westlaw, a service of West Publishing, is a computer-assisted legal research service that contains over 9,000 databases. Coverage includes federal and state court cases, the U.S. Code Annotated and state statutes, federal regulations, administrative law decisions, topical databases, legal periodicals, West's Insta-Cite, West's QuickCite, Shepard's Citations, Shepard's PreView, Black's Law Dictionary, and public records.

    This document was last updated April 20, 1997