HUMINT: The Difference Between Discreet Interviews and Reference Checks


What Are Discreet Interviews? 

Discreet interviews, also known as discreet source work or human intelligence (HUMINT) is information provided by human sources, not public records (courthouses, files, documents, etc.). 

How Are They Different from Reference Checks? 

Unlike reference checks that are provided to the client or background check firm by the subject being evaluated, discreet interviews are subjects close enough to the individual to speak to their reputation but are not provided by the subject to prevent bias or overly positive answers.  

Additionally, discreet interviews can be used outside of normal role/appointment checks and be utilized for potential business investments, acquisitions, partnerships, etc. Discreet interviews are accomplished without notifying the individual or company that they are being evaluated. 

Why Are They Valuable? 

  1. Discreet interviews provide unbiased human intelligence on an individual’s reputation without alerting the subject they are being investigated.  
  2. Many regions do not have comprehensive public records & when dealing in jurisdictions with high bribery or corruption, documents cannot be trusted to paint a complete picture. 
  3. Public records do not provide the backstory, context, and color that can be added by discreet interviews. 

Most Common Uses of Discreet Interviews: 

  • Subjects where there is an underlying concern or a red flag came up during public records research. 
  • International investigations in datascarce jurisdictions.  

Discreet Interview Process:  

  1. Client requests discreet interviews – often with a specific concern they are trying to uncover or due to the location of the subject.
  2. Identify a contractor – Vcheck selects a local and industry-relevant contact.
  3. Select sources – contractor identifies potential sources, which are then vetted by Vcheck to ensure they are closely-linked and acceptable.
  4. Contractor interviews sources – questions are guided based on areas of concern, industry, etc.
  5. Review the interviews from contractor – if any testimonials are uncovered and are not validated by all/most sources, Vcheck will go back to ask for additional clarification on the statement from the previous source(s) to ensure consistent information.
  6. Report delivery – Vcheck summarizes confirmed findings and delivers the report to the client


Discreet interviews can be extremely valuable as they provide an unbiased opinion on the target, provide additional context to findings in public records, reveal important factors in datascarce jurisdictions, and can be accomplished without alerting the subject you are investigating. 

Contact our sales team to learn how discreet interviews can protect your investments and reputation. 

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