A private investigator, a private detective, or investigation agent, is someone who may be employed by people, companies or NGOs to undertake investigative surveillance activity for private purposes. Private investigators may also work for lawyers in criminal and civil cases. Some private investigators specialise in one area of the investigation, while others specialise in many different areas. Private investigators may also work as part of a large corporate organisation, using their skills to achieve corporate objectives.
Many private investigators offer professional investigative services on a contractual basis. This means that they charge only for time spent on your case and any information gathered from you. This form of investigation has many advantages; for example it saves a huge amount of money that would otherwise have been spent on conducting expensive background checks and hiring private detectives to carry out this task. Another advantage is that carrying out an expensive background check can take up to a week, whilst some criminal activity may only take a few days. It can also be extremely time consuming running background checks on potential employees and business partners.
Private investigators have the advantage over detectives when it comes to conducting discreet investigations. For example, many private detectives offer anonymity and the ability to investigate unlisted phone numbers that are not normally advertised on free online directories, whereas investigators cannot offer this service. The only way to carry out a discreet investigation is to hire detectives who work on a confidential basis.
Many investigators also use different types of surveillance tools. One of the most common tools used by private detectives is secretly fitted digital video cameras (DVR). The video camera can then be secretly attached to any piece of furniture or a personal item, which is then used by the investigator to observe the location of the subjects of interest. Some investigators now use GPS trackers to locate subjects.
There are numerous private detective agencies in the US. They often operate separately, although there are some large nationwide investigative agencies that contract out their work. Each private detective agency employs highly experienced professionals with a wealth of experience in gathering evidence and conducting thorough investigations. Some investigators specialize in particular areas such as financial crime, computer crimes, and violence. There are also investigators who specialise in intellectual property crimes, such as stealing proprietary information from businesses and individuals. Other specialties include asset tracing and white collar crime.
Most private investigators may use surveillance tools such as video surveillance, digital video recorder (DVR), secret cameras, GPS tracking, and telephone monitoring. Some investigators may even utilize computers to assist in the investigation process. The recordings can then be used as evidence in court. Private detectives use surveillance techniques to gather information to obtain and present relevant evidence in court.
Computer forensic specialists are also becoming increasingly in demand by investigators in the criminal justice field. These experts perform data recovery from computers and other electronic devices. To many, computer forensics technicians are considered experts in this specialized area. Aspiring private investigators may want to specialise in this area and pursue a career as a computer forensics technician or analyst.
Surveillance and investigation techniques are changing at an ever-increasing rate. As technology progresses, the methods private investigators use to gather evidence and conduct investigations will evolve as well. In order to succeed in the field, private investigators must stay up to date with the latest surveillance and investigation techniques. This requires dedication, patience, and a commitment to serve the needs of their clients.
One example of the type of surveillance and/or investigation techniques that are used by many private investigators is GPS tracking. GPS trackers are often used to locate missing persons. A GPS tracker allows for the exact location where the missing person is located. This method is often used after a series of searches has failed to yield any positive results.
Communication between a private investigator and their client is imperative. Both must have good written communication skills and a degree of patience. Often, criminal activity is carried out through words or non-verbal communication. To this end, investigators often interview witnesses. Subpoenas are often issued by law enforcement authorities to obtain additional information or proof before a warrant is executed.
Private detectives may work on cases which involve intellectual property such as trade secrets or financial crimes. They may also choose to focus their attention on organised crime, such as organised drug trafficking or fraud. Private detectives can work independently or as affiliates to larger law enforcement agencies. Most work in pairs, although some detectives choose to work alone. Many private investigators use digital video recorders (DVR) to collect evidence in the course of their investigations.