How Private Investigators Work

How Private Investigators Work

All You Need To Know About Private Investigators

Any first encounter with a contemporary private investigator is never as thrilling as one might expect. This is mostly because we still expect to meet Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe, or at least Veronica Mars. Movies, TV shows, and novels have romanticized the image of private investigators who are usually illustrated as mysterious people working from dim-lighted offices in the shady parts of a town. The truth is not as poetical as we would want it to be but the job of a private investigator is definitely as fascinating as presented in novels and movies. Keep reading to learn about how private investigators work?

They have to have a license

It’s true that anybody can become a private investigator if this is their dream. But they always need to have the proper license to be able to be self-employed or work for various security services, detective agencies, financial institutions, or other businesses. Private investigators have to qualify and pass the PI exam to open their own agency or find work in the field. Many private investigators have previous work experience in law enforcement, the military, or federal intelligence, and they basically choose to become private investigators in a second career, but there are also newbies who just know they have this calling.

According to the United States Association of Professional Investigators, many private investigators specialize in civil investigation, criminal investigation, security, missing persons, investigative ethics, and even terrorism and intelligence. They also learn new skills like evidence collection, pursuit driving, firearms training, surveillance, arrest procedures, and use of force laws and codes.

They always follow the law

Unlike the valiant private investigators we see in TV shows and movies, private investigators always have to follow the law. There are no shortcuts, breaking and entering, or hacking accepted in this business. While in the fictional world all this stuff might seem rather cute and worthy of praise, in the real world, private investigators have to obey the rules.

Yes, they can follow a person, but they’re not allowed to trespass or to use GPS or tracking devices without previous approvals. They can take photos and sometimes collaborate with the police, but they’re not allowed to hack into phones, computers, email accounts, or even get bank records, medical records, or travel reservations. What private investigators are allowed to do is take advantage of the mighty internet and various databases. And they know exactly where to look and what to look for to solve all the cases that come their way.

They use cool equipment

Even though they are not allowed to hack or spy, they can make use of different equipment and gadgets that make their job easier and facilitate access to evidence. They can use various equipment, from basic laptops and computers to biological evidence collection kits, GPS receivers, fingerprint evidence kits, and digital audio recorders. Private investigators also put to good use video cameras, scanners, binoculars, telescopes, and even night-vision goggles. This equipment helps them legally search databases, reports, public records, and tax filings, as well as to conduct surveillance, run undercover operations, and conduct background checks.

They do more than just follow unfaithful partners

While, in the movies, most of the damsels in distress that come to the ruggedly handsome private investigators need to find the whereabouts of their unfaithful husbands, in real life, private investigators can solve an impressive variety of cases. From finding missing persons and skip tracing to serving legal documents and testifying, private investigators can help both individuals and companies solve cases and find solutions to their problems.

The range of activities they perform depends also on their background. If they have a business degree, they can become corporate investigators, if they have experience with patents and trademarks, they can solve intellectual property theft cases, while certified accountants can help with financial investigations. Private investigators also conduct insurance fraud investigations and solve cases related to workers compensation fraud.

Basically, private investigators are brilliant at gathering facts and evidence, putting them together, and finding answers to their clients’ questions while respecting the law and following their passion.