The DeedSearch personal and business information portal, initially developed to service the South African property market, has evolved into an industry-wide risk assessment and management tool that gives users access to up-to-date public domain data online.

Now local ISP Fusion Reactor, the company that operates DeedSearch in South Africa for its owners, LexisNexis Butterworths, is offering its clients access to this solution as a value-add service.
Because of the nature of the searches that can be conducted using DeedSearch, there is a lot of value in getting such an offering for free from your ISP, says Fusion Reactor director, Grant Jackson.
Many other sites have tried offering value-adds like online news or weather, but such offerings are now a dime a dozen, so  because we are business-focused  we prefer to offer a useful business tool to our users.
In effect, DeedSearch can search any public database, so any information that is in the public domain  such as deeds and title information, company assets, criminal records and so on – is accessible using the solution.
Users can gain access to valuable financial background information on both companies and individuals before entering into, for instance, a financial or property transaction, says Jackson.
"They can check proof of ownership and realisable asset valuation indicators of companies and consumers and are able to detect hidden or undeclared assets of defaulting debtors."
Thanks to the data sources available through DeedSearch, users can:
* Check educational qualifications of potential employees;
* Check criminal records;
* Verify drivers' licences and vehicle ownership details;
* Check personal and company credit status;
* Access company and company director information; and
* Access property information.
Obviously there are a number of safeguards in respect of this service. In order to search for a criminal record, for example, the user would need the permission of the person they are searching for, so if it’s in regard to potential employment, they would have to get the person’s signature saying that this had been agreed to, he says.
"Also, all our users are registered and fully vetted beforehand, and they have to complete an application form that rivals the information needed by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) and even once they are vetted, with something like a search for a criminal record, the user would send us a copy of the permission form they have obtained and we would then do the search for them.
"Perhaps the main advantage of DeedSearch is its convenience. As an online enterprise solution specialist, the system was developed by us using Macromedia's online database management solution, ColdFusion MX7. This means that users don't have to download special software all they need is an Internet link and browser software," says Jackson.
He points out that if a business is not checking up on its customers regularly, it could easily be losing a lot of money each month because of bad credit, whereas if it was using DeedSearch, a simple credit check could be done from the start, to ensure that known defaulters are not offered credit.
"In my opinion, it’s a heck of a value add, because a similar offering from another company could cost a business in the region of R2 000 to R2 500
just for the subscription," he claims.
Most importantly, we have a full audit trail, so management is always aware of exactly who it is in the organisation that is doing the searching and how many searches they’ve done.
Jackson states that another important issue today is that of corporate governance, particularly in light of affairs like the Enron debacle, and this is especially relevant for the smaller companies.
"Many smaller organisations fail the corporate governance compliancy test, because they do not have all the correct checks and balances in place.
"In this day and age, corporate governance compliance is critical especially in SA terms, because with it being an issue that is so high on the radar, the judiciary could easily be looking to make an example of someone who is not compliant, so don’t let it be you," Jackson adds.