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Recommended U.S. TSCM Firms, and Questions To Always Ask

Granite Island Group is usually your best option for all type of sweep work thoughout most of the UNited States, Canada, Mexico, and many foreign countries. In the rare event that we are able to assit you for some reason we are more then happy to recommend one of our competitors who may be able to assist you when he are either swamped with other work, or when you need someone who is physically located closer to you. Anybody whom we would refer you to would of course specialize in "bug sweeps" and wiretap detection and all of whom have legitimate TSCM training, credentials, and equipment (all are very well respected within the industry).

Granite Island Group can provide TSCM coverage to at least 90% of all major U.S. companies within 72 hours of the initial notifications. The other smaller private TSCM firms tend to operate in a certain geographic area limited to a few hundred miles (usually within an eight each way). However, we are available for national or worldwide travel almost anywhere in the United States or the World on short notice providing the aforementioned services. These coverage area limitations are due to the logistics involved in transporting hundreds and often thousands of pounds of sophisticated, highly sensitive laboratory grade electronic instruments, equipment and tools. Bug sweeps and wiretap detection involves the use of ladders, pole climbing equipment, LAN analyzers, X-ray systems, specialized antennas and other equipment. This equipment is not easily, transported by airplane or by any method other than vans or trucks. In a most cases, the TSCM specialist will respond to any location within a two day drive with a van, which contains an entire mobile electronics laboratory.  

Additionally, TSCM firms also are inclined restrict their operations to a specific geographic area which will provide them with an expert level of knowledge regarding the RF environment, construction methods used, community zoning, population demographics, civil engineering, aeronautic or maritime facilities, local military bases, and related areas. Knowledge of such regional information is critical for a successful TSCM project. The TSCM specialist will have an intimate knowledge of the telephone systems, engineering methods, fiber optics, major cable locations, central office switches, test numbers, and related communications infrastructure present or being used in an area (which tends to be regional).  

An understanding of what types of eavesdropping devices, methods, and frequencies, which are being used in an area, is also important, as is knowledge of what type of surveillance equipment is being sold within that region (and other areas). The TSCM Procedural and Protocols Guides used by a specialist also are based on specific issues and variables present in that specific geographic area. Most of these firms are located in, or near major maritime port cities or population centers. The heaviest concentrations are around major cities on the East and West coasts with a very limited presence in the Mid-West, Great Plains, and Rockies . If you were in the Mid-West, Great Plains, or Rockies area you would need to engage a TSCM firm from one of the major coastal or port cities. For example, Granite Island Group regularly provides sweep services in an area that is cross-country, and very often to areas that are roughly 1500 miles or a three-day drive in all directions from Boston . While most of these regular customers are within a quarter to half day drive a few are located as far west as Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Atlanta, GA along with a regular service corridor that includes Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Madison, WI along with Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec in Canada.


Please be patient when contacting any legitimate TSCM firms, as if they are out serving a client they may not be able to return your call for several hours, or perhaps the next business day.

Rates generally are non-negotiable and reflect the cost of the sweep practitioners time, hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment in equipment acquisition and maintenance, several hunded hours of in-service training a year, travel, administrative and communications time and expense to coordinate the sweep and written report, and a fair profit for their services.

It is very unwise to shop for sweeps by using price as a criteria as it only invites getting ripped off. Legitimate TSCM professionals are not interested in, nor will they engage in negotiating for a lower price. When you contact persons on this list, you are talking with someone in the same league as an attorney or surgeon, not a salesman. In fact most of the people in this professional may have more time in their specialized training than do most attorneys or medical professionals. Anything beyond an initial phone call usually will be billable time. Attorneys and doctors don't consult for free, and neither do legitimate TSCM specialists. If a potential client calls with a long list of questions not pertaining directly to hiring the practitioner, or wants to know how to do his own sweep, or wants to know how to use the sweep kit he purchased on his own, expect to pay an hourly rate in advance for consulting services. It is also important you understand that legitimate services by a competent TSCM firm rarely start at less then several thousand dollars for even a basic sweep.

Keep in mind that there only a small number of legitimate and competent TSCM counterintelligence specialists or "Bug Sweepers" in the U.S. private sector. Legitimate TSCM firms are in very high demand, hard to find, and expensive; so be patient when trying to find one to help you.

Also, the legitimate firms are not attorneys and cannot tell you whether it is legal or illegal for you to monitor your own phones or install video cameras. Always call a competent licensed attorney for legal advice.


Recommended Gold List Questions

Levels of TSCM Legitimacy - The "P-Levels"

Most TSCM specialists are available for travel outside of a specific 2 day geographic area but they prefer to avoid such engagements. Alternatively, beyond this 2 day distance they will limit the services to vulnerability analysis, pre-construction assistance, non-instrumented inspections, simple RF checks, in-place monitoring, or limited TSCM services involving only a briefcase sized in-place monitoring system instead of using an entire electronics laboratory.

   

Please be patient when contacting any TSCM firm, because if they are out serving a client they may not be able to return your call for several hours or a day or two. Rates generally are non-negotiable and reflect the cost of the sweep practitioner’s time and costs. They have a considerable investment in equipment acquisition and maintenance, several weeks of in-service training a year, travel, administrative and communications time and expense to coordinate the sweep and written report, and a fair profit for their services.  It is very unwise to shop for sweeps by using price as a criterion as it only invites fraud and unworthy work by an incompetent firm or individual. Legitimate TSCM professionals are not interested in, nor will they engage in negotiating for a lower price. When you contact persons on the TSCM business, you are talking with someone in the same league as an attorney or surgeon, not a salesman. In fact, most of the legitimate people in this profession have more time in their specialized training than do most attorneys or medical professionals. Anything beyond an initial 15-minute phone call usually will be billable time. Attorneys and doctors do not consult free, and neither does legitimate TSCM specialists. If a potential client calls with a long list of questions not pertaining directly to hiring the practitioner, or wants to know how to do his own sweep, or wants to know how to use the sweep kit he purchased on his own, expect to pay an hourly rate or $250 in advance for consulting services.

 

If you are considering engaging (or have already engaged) a TSCM firm, you would do well to immediately ask the following questions. It is also important you understand that legitimate services by a competent TSCM firm are rarely less than several thousand dollars for even a basic sweep, and a proper sweep can sometimes take days, not hours to complete.

 

Keep in mind that there only a small number of legitimate and competent TSCM counterintelligence specialists or "Bug Sweepers" in the U.S. private sector. Legitimate TSCM firms are in very high demand, hard to find, and expensive so be patient when trying to find one to help you. Furthermore, TSCM firms are not attorneys and cannot provide legal advice concerning the monitoring of your own phones. Always call a competent licensed attorney for legal advice.

 

You use the following list like this. You assign each of the P-Levels a score between negative numbers and positive ten, essentially adding or subtracting points up to ten either way depending on how each of the attributes apply to the person you are talking to. In a few cases, you can subtract more then ten points for issues that provide grave areas of significant concern.

 

You would hope that the person or company you are considering performing a TSCM project would attain a perfect score as that means the person is very legitimate and professional and that you feel that none of the negative attributes or levels apply to them, but in reality such, a score is impractical. Nobody is perfect, and anybody who appears to be perfect should certainly be viewed with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism.

 

Professional - A true blue, died in the wool security expert with years of RELEVANT experience and background in their specific area of expertise. He will "walk the walk and talk the talk", and have the scars to prove it. This person will own all the necessary equipment, hundred of books (some of which he wrote or contributed to), a large number of original web pages or white papers on the subject. He (or she) will seek to illuminate the subject matter, and will be able to explain very complex topics in terms the non-technical public or layman can understand and is comfortable is discussing the matter without pushing their services too much (they let you come to them, and never gets pushy). If they are very professional they get +10 points, if they seem a little rough around the edges give them +7, but start dropping points, as you get more uncomfortable with their professionalism. If they are rough around the edges, or just a little too pushy to get your business then award them zero points, and if they really get pushy or seem desperate for your business then start subtracting points quickly.

 

Pretender - Similar to the above professional but has irrelevant or bogus credentials. They may talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk (nor have the scars). Will talk a good game, but generally lacks legitimate equipment, materials, or training. He often has not written a book but will often plagiarize others (and claim it as his own work). If the "pretender" has an online presence or web page, it is full of hype, rhetoric, and paranoia (but little science). He is quite capable of totally baffling customers, but cannot explain things in a non-technical way (or without hyping surveillance technology to death). In this case you start by awarding them -10 points, and as they convince you that they are legitimate you slowly start adding points up to as much as a +10 points. Very often, the pretender will be someone who retired from government service with honorable service, but who lacks the technical background to perform a competent sweep, and thus pretend to know what they are doing. In many cases, the pretender actually has themselves convinced that they can do a good job, but sometimes their inabilities lead then into the next category.

 

Putz - This is nothing more then a buffoon. Generally he does not know how to do the job, has virtually no equipment, training, or resources (but tries hard). He may or may not be honest, and may actually believe that he is competent. He may have a few technical toys, and may have a week or two of training in electronics, surveillance, and security (all in one). In this case, you start by awarding them -10 points, and as they convince you that they are not a putz, you slowly start adding points up to as much as +10 points.

 

Parasite - This type leaches off of the credibility of others, generally has no expertise, knowledge, or training of their own in what they are offering. Usually someone like this walks and talks like a salesman, and they love to run their mouth about all the people they know. Name-dropping is an art form to the parasite. The parasite may be detected by the way they rattle off a list of references, customers, or contacts before anybody has really asked for them. He will usually be desperate to prove to you how legitimate he is right from the very beginning of your contact with them. You start them with zero points, and gain or loose points as you feel appropriate. The parasite is the consummate salesmen, but not an actual sweep person. One rule of the TSCM profession is that you never talk about your customers, so someone who is trying to impress you with who they know or is name-dropping is a parasite who is trying to impress you, and in turn, you should not trust them, and score the parasite accordingly. Start with awarding zero points, and each time they name drop or mention a company name with whom they have performed sweep work subtract 3 points, up to 30 points. If on the other hand the TSCM expert does not mention his customers award 3 points, then ask for references, and then when he declines to provide references award three more points (or if they give you references subtract 6 points). Next, you want to aggressively pressure them for client names, and for references, and then if at this point (under pressure) they keep their mouth shut you add 6 points, or if they give in and breach their client privacy, you subtract 6 points. There is nothing wrong with being involved in sales, but in the TSCM business, a “sales push” or pushing to close the transaction is a liability.

 

Predator - This type is pure evil and the only reason they are involved in security is to victimize the customer. The predator is only interested in backstabbing, theft, betrayal, or harming the client in a serious way. The only reason this type of person is involved in TSCM or the security industry is to ferret out their customers secrets so they can be exploited for swindles or for criminal purposes. If this person gives you even the slightest hint of being, a criminal hit them with -100 points and let them work their way out of it. Now, do not confuse someone who hunts spies for a living for someone who performs eavesdropping for a living, or someone who is a professional criminal who preys upon his client. A true TSCM expert is hunting spies and bugs, and is not preying off their client, they do not hunt the spy directly, but rather hunt the spies’ technical toys (it is a subtle, but important difference).

 

Poison - He has nothing good to say about anybody except himself and his associates and tends to be bitter against everybody around him. When questioned about his own credentials he will lash out at his competitors with personal attacks (instead of discussing his own credentials). This type is easily identified after five minutes of talking, and they have not said one thing specifically regarding their own merit, equipment, or credentials. It is easy to figure this one out and to award or subtract points either way. If this person only slightly lashes out against others it may be that, he has a backbone, but is not actually toxic. Be careful here and only subtract points if this person is hardcore in his angst and bitterness. Hint: Most TSCM folks have a strong moral backbone, and have a strong sense of fairness and of what are right and wrong. Most TSCM professionals will be strongly biased against eavesdroppers, felons, or wrong doers, and this bias should result in points being awarded as you discuss just “how white his hat is”. On the other hand, if the TSCM expert is bitter against others, but cannot specifically tell you why, then you should subtract points. Also, be wary of any TSCM expert who is overly complementary towards other people as this may indicate a potential parasite. If the person lashes out against a criminal award them ten points (this is a good thing), if they stand mute award them zero, and if they get wound up at the slightest mention of anybody else in their profession then subtract up to ten points. Pay attention here though that you only subtract points for them attacking good people, and if they have bad things to say about good people request proof from them of what they claiming.

 

Puffer Fish - Typically, he has little or no credentials of his own, but knows all of the industry lingo and jargon. He will claim to be the president of a huge corporation with scores of employees, tens of millions in assets when in fact this type is a penniless mooch who is still living with their parents. If not living with his parents his (or her) spouse will be the primary breadwinner in the family, their primary income (and references) will be from close friends or family. Listen very carefully for any hint as to where the seed money came from for them to start their business, as you may find that a rich family member bought them the equipment and has been subsidizing their TSCM activities. Often this type is also a pretender and bumbling putz. Listen for any hint of grandiosity or of what this person is going to do in the future, versus what they have actually done in the past. Dream and aspirations are important; delusions and illusions are not and should be graded accordingly. If they are fully independent and are the primary breadwinners for at least two years then award five points. If they slowly purchased their sweep equipment over many years, (usually ten years or more) then add an additional five points. On the other-hand if their talk about inheritances, or how they “borrowed” money from family members, or give you their mothers home address as their “corporate headquarters  you need to subtract ten points or more.

 

Psychiatric Patient - These people are really nothing more then con artists who will ramble on for hours with wild tales of how they were a Navy SEAL, covert CIA operative, undercover FBI agent, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, was a POW, won the war, and so on. They could tell you about their credentials, but then they would have to kill you. Often they will offer credentials, which at first appear real, but cannot be confirmed, or is suspect in another way. Frequently these psychiatric patients will have a small number of groupies and close person friends who provide their support structure and who endorse them and provide their primary references (but who also have mental health issues). They will often offer credentials which cannot be verified by their own admission, or offer credentials that are totally unrelated to the project. With them everything is "too secret" Ask questions, get specific answers, grade as you feel is appropriate. However, step carefully, as many TSCM people will not discuss a great deal of their background initially, so this level should be considered in regards to initial contact. If the person sounds and talks a little crazy initially then subtract points, but if they seem sane and coherent then add points. Do not get too carried away on this issue though. Always remember that the TSCM person is grading you as a customer as well, and may not be too keen on disclosing too much about their background until they get to know you better, so this is a two way street. Start by awarding zero points either way, and if the person seems quite healthy and sane then award five points, and if they seem just a little “off” then subtract five points. If you try to convince them that you are hearing voices, seeing ghosts, and having visions then and they suggest that you need to talk to a doctor award them ten points (and explain to them that you were just testing them). On the other hand if they launch off on claims of magical powers, and tell you about how THEY hear voice then you should subtract ten points (or perhaps more).

 

Phelons (or Felon) - This group is a real problem within the security business.  Many con artists, felons, and dirt-bags try to capitalize on their criminal skills by claiming to be able to catch other criminals. Usually their only credential (which can be verified) is the criminal conviction. Often this type will claim to be a convicted hacker and computer expert when in fact he was convicted of arson, or of being a drug dealer, is a psychiatric patient, and is incapable of recovering his own hard drive or of performing the most simplistic of technical tasks. The few cases where the conviction was relevant to their field will not set your mind at ease about their now "reformed" status. Now this gets a tricky because if you become reasonably convinced that you are talking to a felon (or they brag of their crimes) you need to subtract 50 points, and not consider dealing with them unless there is some overwhelming reason to do so. If the person was involved in a crime that did not involve moral turpitude or violence (i.e.: drunk driving, disorderly conduct, etc) then perhaps subtract only 15 points. Now, on the other hand if the TSCM appears to be a good citizen, with no criminal histories then they get only a positive 10 points.

 

Paranoids - Usually has knowledge of security because of an anti-establishment, paranoid or criminal mind-set, which compels them to constantly look over their shoulder. Of course, the government is constantly harassing them, has their phones taped, has video cameras in their house, and has legions of agents employed just to harass them specifically. They will sometimes rant on about government mind control, biological implants, electronic harassment, and so on. In some cases they have written books or articles, but the materials is published only in very narrow channels, or by paramilitary or fringe publishers. Very often, they will hear voices in their head, and/or be able to convince other that they too are hearing voices or seeing visions. If they are hearing voices, seeing visions, or claim to have any kind, of "special powers”, you should subtract 30 or more points. If they seem like a normal and rational person they get zero points, but if they are "professionally cautious" add a few positive points as TSCM experts operate in a world where they assume that a place is bugged until scientifically proven otherwise, they are not paranoid, but more accurately are in touch with the eavesdropping threat. To be awarded +10 point the TSCM expert should be cautious, careful, and delicate with the project, but should not act "crazy", and should make you feel more secure, and not fearful.

 

Police – When a TSCM expert enters the profession, they hopefully come with a multitude of prior experience, some have a technical background, and some have little or no technical background. Sadly, there are quite a few retired or fired members of the law enforcement or intelligence community who try their hands at TSCM, and who are woefully unqualified to render such services. Commonly, they run out and spend a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars in simplistic equipment and dance around with it, but really have no idea what they are doing. It is also common to see someone in law enforcement (or even security guards) purchase a $99 scanner or frequency counter and attend four days of training, then start selling their services as a TSCM expert. Con artists often claim to be, or have been a police officer, so to err on the side of safety you should be suspect of anybody who makes a claim of a connection to the police, and automatically award them a neutral score of zero. If they have a considerably strong technical background, and have very specific training in TSCM then award them five to ten positive points. However, if they claim to be or to have been involved in law enforcement you should remember that quite a few fraudsters claim to have been police officers, and you should err on the side of caution and start subtracting up to ten points.

 

Private Investigator – PI’s must by the nature of their profession be generalists, and know a little bit about a whole lot of things, and must have connections to people who are actual subject matter experts. As a rule, PI’s do not actually perform bug sweeps, and you need to be extremely suspicious of anybody who tells you they perform bug sweeps and that they are a private investigator. It is desirable for a PI to bring in an outside TSCM expert to perform a sweep, but when the PI themselves try to perform the sweep the customer is probably going to be fleeced. A TSCM expert on the other hand is an expert with electronics, has very specialized skills, background, and training in technical matters, and tend not to be a generalist like a Private Investigator. Granted, some TSCM people do come from an investigative or intelligence background, but you need to be on guard for any PI who is trying to come across as a TSCM expert. You start by awarding a neutral score of zero, if the person is a private investigator in a state that requires licensing, bonding, and insurance of PI’s then you award a negative 10 score (-10). If they are a PI, in a state that does not require a PI license then only award a negative 3 score. If they have been a PI in the past, but are not one now they get a positive five, and if they have never been a PI they get a +10. The logic behind this is that the more of a PI someone is, the less you want them to do sweeps for you. If someone as gone to the effort and expense of becoming a licensed private investigator then in is doubtful that they are making their living performing sweeps, but rather making their living performing domestic investigations or working for insurance companies (not performing sweeps).

 

Professor – Heavy academic experience, but fairly light on actual field experience. This type is very hazardous to your sweep, as they can often talk about technical subjects exhaustively, and may own a smattering of equipment, but they usually (but not always) lack actual experience out in the field. They can talks for days about antenna factors, signal propagation, and “what can be done” but when it actually comes down to putting their knowledge to work things start falling apart. When a TSCM person tried to impress you with which universities they attended, or what degrees they earned you should start awarding negative points as you see fit, and if they are humble about their academic experience award positive points. In reality, the college you went to and the degree you earned is only important while you are in your 20’s and are looking for work. A number of TSCM experts have Masters and Doctorates, but they rarely crow about it. If they have a strong academic background (Master or Doctorate) award, ten points so long as the degrees are in technical fields. If the degrees are in non-technical fields (business, criminal justice, security, etc) then award only three points. If they have only a bachelor’s degree award zero points, expect in the case of an engineering degree where you would award five points. If the have only graduated from a trade school or have an associate degree then award a negative three points. For someone who is a high school graduate, but did not complete a legitimate college degree then subtract five points, and if they never graduated high school subtract a full ten points.

 

Phed (or Fed) – Just how long did the TSCM person work for a federal agency, did they perform sweeps, for how long did they perform sweeps, did they serve in a technical position prior to working in TSCM. Did they attend the State Department or CIA School , or was it one of the orphan schools. Did they stay with the same agency for their entire term of service or did they job hop to various agencies. Start by awarding a neutral score of zero, if they never performed TSCM services as a full time employee of the federal government then you award -5 points. If they worked for the government performing sweeps, but “job hopped” more then twice award then -10 points, as there is some ugliness afoot (which resulted from them being fired from one agency, but being rehired by a second agency), if this happens more then twice then there is a serious problem. Now, if they served in a technical position before getting into TSCM award then +5 points, and if they performed at least 100 (7+ day) sweep projects for the federal government they get +10 points.

 

Philby – In 1963, Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby, a high-ranking British intelligence agent was exposed as a long-term spy who was had actually been working for the Soviet Union 's NKVD and KGB. This treason was particularly devastating as he was a mole planted deep inside the CIA, and his actions lead to the deaths of countless CIA and MI6 agents. When a TSCM expert tells you that they served in an intelligence agency for more then 5 years you award -5 points, and if they retired from an intelligence agency you award then -10 points. The problem is that because of the Philby incident the CIA and other intelligence agencies are organizationally dysfunctional when it comes to sweeps, and they do not like to teach sweeps in such a way that allows the sweeper to function outside of the government (with huge numbers of people performing logistical support for a sweep), or outside of large sweep teams. Yes, they may be quite good in TSCM, but it is very tough for them to perform sweeps as they were trained to be a “cog-in-the-machine”, but not the machine itself (thanks to Philby). If someone is going to be performing sweeps for you, it is critical that they be able to provide this service solely on their own without having to bring in other people or outside agencies. If they served with an intelligence agency for less then five years you award then +5 points, and if they served for two years or less award them+3 points. If they never served with an intelligence agency award then zero points. If they shifted from intelligence agency to intelligence agency over a decade, and spent at least two years at each then award a full ten points.

 

Pirate – Meet Captain Hook and his merry band of pirates. Just how many people are going to be showing up for this sweep, and why are so many people required for the project? The more people involved in the sweep the more likely it is that you have a band of pirates on your hands, and the greater the probability that pillaging is about to happen. In addition, as the sweep team becomes larger the greater the likelihood is that the security of the project is going to be compromised and that the eavesdropper is going to be accidentally tipped off. The ideal situation is for only one or two TSCM people to be involved in a sweep, with a maximum of three people on site at any given time. Start this score at zero, and if only one person is coming out then award +25 points, if two people will come out then award +5 points, 3 people is -5. As the number of people increases up to six, you award -30. When a sweeper starts tells you they are going to show up with more then one of two people you need to be on guard, and ask lot of questions.

 

Prima Dona – Does the TSCM expert seem just a little too ego driven? Do they crow on endlessly about what college they attended, and how they spent 30 years working for NASA, invented a cure for warts, heals the sick, and so on ad nauseum? Beware the Prima Dona, as they tend to want their own office for the sweep, or show up for a low-key project in a Ferrari or Porsche (not that there is anything wrong with these vehicles). They wear designer suits, flash shoulder holsters, smoke expensive cigars, and go way overboard in trying to show or tell you how important and powerful they are when in fact they are impotent. Start with a neutral score, and as the TSCM person impresses you with how slick and important they are, start awarding negative points. If they have a little bit of “grit” to them then award +5 points, and the less polish they have the closer you can get to awarding them +10 points. You do not want a TSCM person who is flamboyant, is a fancy dresser, who is arrogant, or who feels like the World is beneath them.

 

Pathetic – A few self-anointed sweep people have sob stories about how miserable their life has been, how they have overcome unrelenting odds, how they have horrible medical problems, and they have a sob story for every occasion. If you give more then a few minutes of your time you will start feeling sorry for them and will want to give them the sweep project just to help them out. Unfortunately, in most cases, the person is trying to trick you, is a sociopath, and they really are not performing sweeps, but rather is performng confidence tricks and swindles. If a TSCM expert comes to you with stories about how pathetic their lives are, you should start adding negative numbers, and conversely if they do not start up with the pity party you should award positive numbers. Most people will get zero points, someone merely having a bad day will garner +3 points, and someone having minor problems in life a negative 3 points. If someone is “totally on top of their profession” award then a full ten points, and if they almost seem pitiful subtract six points, and if they make you feel sorry for them subtract a full ten points.

 

Philanthropist – If the sweeps are too cheap then you have a serious problem. There are no cheap, good cigars. Real sweeps actually costs thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars, not hundreds of dollars, nor do they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (unless the sweep is overseas). Beware of anybody who quotes you prices for a sweep that are too low. Any sweeper who quotes you less then $750 for any sweep should be awarded negative ten points, as something is gravely wrong with their pricing. If they offer to perform the sweep for more then $750 but less then $1500 you may have a minor problem with them and should award negative three points. If they charge between $2250 and $2750 per day for the sweep, you should award then zero points. If the rate is $3000 up to $3500 for the sweep award +3 points, for up to $4750 per day award five points, and for $5000 to $7500 per day award a full ten points. Since a small sweep may only require a single day and since the scheduling of short-term projects can be flexible a lower rate may be obtained for quick sweeps as opposed to larger corporate or estate sweeps which are usually multi-day affairs with a much higher per day cost. Also, watch out for the duration of a bug sweep, as there is very little that a sweep person can do in four hours on-site, but with eight hours on-site they can render only basic, essential services. To evaluate a single room or executive office they will usually need two to three days on-site, and it is not uncommon for these three days on-site to cost $15,000 plus travel time (usually at half thier day rate) and per diem or travel charges. A larger, corporate sweep involving six executive offices may take a seven to ten days and cost $40,000 and $50,000 plus travel time and expenses. When someone quotes you a price that is too low you have a huge problem on your hands as someone with only a couple of briefcases may be planning to defraud you, and they may or may not put on a good show for the $500 you pay them. Always remember that real sweeps costs thousands of dollars, not hundreds.

 

Phreaks – People get into TSCM for a range of reasons, some of these reasons are honorable, some are based on professional curiosity, but sadly, some people get involved in TSCM due to dishonorable, crooked, or illegal activities. One group of folks who sometimes get involved are drug dealers, dope growers, drug users, meth cookers, tweakers and those involved in the illegal narcotics trade. In these illicit professions they tend to be extremely paranoid and feel that the government is out to get them (which is it), and they are constantly afraid of being bugged (which they should be). They frequently load up on sweep gear and learn about how to perform their own bug sweeps in an paranoid attempt to find the bugs on their own phone lines. They may or may not have attended formal bug sweep training, and may or may not be operating under a company name. In fact quite a few druggies incorporate companies, have legitimate business addresses, and some even become licensed private investigators in order to conceal their illicit drug operation and launder the money they are bringing in. Always query the TSCM person as to how they “got into” the business, and why they chose to study the subject in such detail. It only takes a couple of questions to figure out if the person is a drug phreak or not, an most of those questions have to do with why they got into the business in the first place. If they started with a strong electronics background, and that chose TSCM as their specialty award then ten points, if they came from a technical field but not electronics then award 5 points. However, if at any time you suspect that they come are, or have been involved in an “illicit agriculture or pharmaceuticals” profession then subtract fifty points and make every effect to distance yourself from them.

 

Power Sweeper – If a sweeper is very good at balancing their workload they can schedule a string of sweeps in a row for different clients, so that they usually perform larger sweeps intermixed with smaller sweeps. The larger multi-day sweeps (four or more days) are like the bricks or stones in a wall, and the smaller sweeps (3 days or less) are like the mortar that is used to hold the larger stones or bricks in place. If a sweeper tells you about how they only perform large, corporate of government sweeps, and that they do not perform smaller sweeps they are likely lying to you. If they claim not to perform private, domestic, or residential sweeps, they are also lying to you. If half of their sweep work is 50% large sweeps (over 3 days), and the other half is sweep that are short one or two day project award then 10 points. If their clients are 25% large 3+ day sweeps and 75% small, one day sweeps award then only five points. If they claim to perform, large corporate sweeps subtract 5 points, and if they tell you that most of their projects, are only one to two days in length (no including travel time) then subtract ten points.

 

Phantom Sweeper – Claims to perform hundreds of sweeps per year. The only problem is that for them to perform as many sweeps per year that they claim they would have to be working 30 hours per day, 400 days per year, and would have to possess 8 arms, 6 eyes, and possess physic abilities (none of which is likely). A good TSCM expert can handle a single multi-day sweep per week, plus a couple of smaller single day sweeps worked around the larger project. If a sweeper claims to be performing 100 sweeps per year you should ask many questions, and if they claim to be performing “hundreds per year” you should consider finding somebody else. In reality, most corporate or government sweeps require 3-5 days for a single room, and then a day or so for each additional room. Very simple residential sweeps take only a day or so, but a more complicated residential sweep can take a week or more. As far as scoring this issue, you start by awarding zero points, and when the TSCM expert tries to convince you that they perform more then a few sweeps per week (on average) you subtract points, the more they claim, the more you subtract. On the other hand, if they explain that there are a limited number of projects they can handle per month then award them up to ten points. Watch out for people who use the words “projects”, “assignments”, or “engagements” and then claim to perform hundreds, or even thousands of these per year when the truth of the matter is that every time their phone rings they claim it is an assignment even though they never do any work for the client. Listen carefully, are they performing actual bug sweeps for these numbers, or are they up to something else. If you really get to the point where you feel they are being evasive and not answering your questions properly then come right out and ask them how many actually bug sweeps they perform per month where they are going out to a different address each time. Listen for clues as to the length of each sweep, and for clue of how many different customers per months they service. If they are servicing over 15 customers per month on average (over 25 sweep days) they are likely ripping them off and you need to subtract ten points. If they are handling 10-12 customers per month (20-21 sweep days) their schedule will be healthy and you can award them ten points. If business is slow for them that may only be performing two to three sweep per month involving one day each, and you should award then only 3 points.  If they only perform sweeps on the weekends and on holidays, avoid performing the sweep during normal mid-week business hours, or two to keep the sweeps to one or two days in length that you are likely talking to a “moonlighter”. This is someone who has a full time job somewhere, and TSCM is not his or her primary occupation. If you are bold enough you can come right out and ask them where they work normally, and watch them sputter and stammer to evade answering your question. You only want to be dealing with sweepers who perform sweeps full time, not some moonlighter who is “borrowing” (er, actually stealing) their employer’s equipment.

 

Phantom Equipment – This is a simple matter of the TSCM expert actually owning the equipment they are proposing using. This is not an issue of what equipment they “have access to”, or what they will buy so they can perform the project for you, or what equipment do they plan to steal from thier employer. You do not want a TSCM person who is "borrowing" equipment, or who is going to run out and buy equipment he does not already possess. Instead, you want to be dealing someone who already has hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollar invested in equipment, and they can bring that equipment to your location in very short order. You grade the equipment like this… If they have $50,000 in equipment that they can bring to your project then they get a neutral score of zero. $300,000 in equipment results in five points being awarded, and over one million dollars of equipment (on site) results in a score of +10. On the other hand, if they can only bring less then $25,000 of equipment on site they get -3 points, under $5,000 in equipment, -6 points. If they have only a small kit of equipment involving only one or two briefcases, or a single broadband field detector (valued under $2,500) you award -10 points. If at any time they use the phrases “has access to the equipment”, “can borrow the equipment”, “can use their employer’s equipment” or other similar statements you automatically award -10 points or more.

 

Patents and Designs – A very small number of TSCM specialists have actually designed TSCM equipment themselves and hold patents, and/or trademarks in regards to these designs. A few of these people can actually design products from the ground up, can design and build circuit boards, develop chassis, design specialized antenna, and can write computer programs. Some of these products may be offered to government agencies only, or are for the use of the TSCM specialist only, while other products are openly sold to non-TSCM people. The rather delicate issue here is that quite a few TSCM companies claim to have designed equipment, but all they are really doing is inventing marketing gimmicks and not actual equipment, essentially taking someone else design and plastering their own name on it. You grade the “Patents, Designs, and Trademarks” issue by awarding +10 points if they have at an actual patent, +5 points if they have some original designs or products (but no actual patents yet). Award zero points to someone who makes no design claims. If the person claims to have designed a product but they are doing nothing more then taking a someone else’s existing product or methods and plastering their own name on it then you need to subtract 5 points. If they are egregious with their claims then you should subtract ten points or more. For example, an engineer who designs and builds their own microwave pre-selector is different then PI who buys one from Agilent and puts their own label on it and then claims a trademark on the clever name. You want to deal with someone who actually designs equipment form scratch, not someone who designs colorful labels.

 

Other – This is the “something special” factor, and it will vary from firm to firm, and is a bit of a wildcard. It may be that the TSCM firm has several patents, that they have actually designed equipment and methods, that that are widely published and quoted, or have other specialized factors that warrant the awarding of other points not otherwise covered. Congress may have consulted them on technical matters, or some other matter that strongly effects the scoring in some way. The scoring should be no more than 30 points in either direction, where a series of good things provides a score of positive 20-30 points and a series of negative things subtract 20-30 points.

 

Add the scores up, in a perfect world it should be 200-250 points, but anything over +140 points is a decent sweep person (with an average score), and over +175 points is an excellent sweep person. An overall score that is below +50 means indicates that you should be polite, but consider not having them do a bug sweep or anything else for you. If they have an overall negative score, you should figure out some way to distance yourself from the person before you end up losing more then just a few dollars.