Tips & Advice
What type of confidentiality guarantees do private investigators offer?
Private investigators do not officially have to guarantee confidentiality within the same stringent set of regulations that govern attorney-client confidentiality. Most good PIs will not only have an explicit clause in their written material guaranteeing they’ll keep private information secure, but will have references to corroborate that they’ve done this in their previous assignments.
What are the primary services that private investigators provide?
Private investigators primarily do background checks, perform surveillance (most often to corroborate infidelity suspicions), and gather evidence for civil investigations. They also do research on missing persons cases and domestic/family issues. Some private investigators have niche industry specialties such as process serving and insurance fraud investigation. Then there are corporate specialists who investigate potential business partners and employees. One primary function of private investigators for corporations is to implement other strategic security measures in the workplace, an offshoot of which is the “bug sweep.” It’s illegal for a private investigator to plant “bugs,” i.e., hidden listening/monitoring devices including wiretaps, but it’s not illegal for them to remove them from the premises where they were planted.
Do private investigators work with police?
Some private investigators work with police, and with the court system--some highly respected and experienced private investigators even assist state and federal law enforcement. PIs are called upon to support a broad range of functions, including search and surveillance, securing evidence, and giving testimony.
Can a private investigator tap phone lines?
A private investigator cannot wiretap phone lines without consent from at least one of the people who will be having the phone conversation--and in 12 states, a phone conversation cannot be recorded without all participants consenting in advance. Exact laws vary by state, however, a private investigator can legally sweep for hidden audio recording devices and get rid of them.
What limitations do private investigators have?
The limitations to which private investigators are subject depend on the state, but for the most part across all states, private investigators cannot pretend to be members of law enforcement, can’t use illegal methods in the course of their investigations, can’t trespass in a home or business, and can’t place a listening or tracking device without at least the primary party’s consent. In some states, they can wiretap phones if one party is aware, and, likewise, with recording conversations. They also can’t hack people’s emails or private online accounts. Nor can they collect private protected data on their subject without a subpoena. They can only put a GPS tracking device on a car if the owner of the vehicle approves it.
Are private investigators eligible for a concealed carry permit?
In some states, private investigators can be eligible to conceal-carry a weapon. In those states, different rules apply, but many require firearm training. Keep in mind that eligibility to apply for a permit is not the same as automatic eligibility to obtain a permit.
What do private investigators investigate?
Private investigators, or PIs, often investigate people. Three common requests are to confirm that a spouse is being unfaithful, find the specific whereabouts of a long-lost contact, and background-check a potential new business partner or employee. People often hire PIs to investigate crimes more extensively than the police have bandwidth for. PIs sometimes are hired specifically to locate long-lost items. Businesses also often hire private investigators to look into business opportunities.
What type of experience is required to be a private investigator?
Private investigators are not necessarily required to have a specific type of career experience or training across every state, although state requirements vary, and some require prior experience/training in criminal justice. More than half of private investigators have prior professional experience in law enforcement, while more than one quarter of the field come from the military or legal professions. The rest come from all sorts of backgrounds. More than 20 percent of them have a university degree.
Are there different types of private investigators?
There are many different types of PIs. The easiest way to differentiate is to break them down into specialties, which include, but are not limited to, background checks (for a potential hiring candidate or investment); civil investigations (gathering evidence for a civil trial); surveillance, (missing person, cheating spouse); insurance and insurance fraud (conning an insurance company); non-insurance related fraud (misrepresentation by a job applicant); corporate investigations (loss or theft of proprietary information); accident reconstructions (to determine cause, location, liability); domestic investigations (divorce, infidelity, drug, sexual or physical abuse); and infidelity and/or cheating spouses.
What is the best way to choose a private investigator?
The best way to find a PI is through a referral. If referral is not an option, begin by researching online to find PIs in your area. After identifying candidates, check their qualifications such as history, education, and practical experience. Interview the candidate, check affiliations and certifications, and, of course, costs and fees.