What does a private investigator actually do? How do you know when to get one? How can he help you? These questions do not come up very often, yet when they do, I am ready with an impenetrable list of answers. Private investigators are hired by individuals and corporations alike to conduct secret investigations. The ultimate goal for any investigator is to find out something that would either hurt the reputation of an individual or company, reveal the truth, or even help a person resolve some legal issues.
Private investigators are not regulated by state agencies like the Department of Licensing or the Security & Accountability Commissions (SAC). They are not required to be licensed. In some states, including Washington, there is no regulatory body at all, yet there are thousands of private investigators out there still doing business. This is because not all private investigators have a license.
So, what does a private investigator do? He investigates either on his own or through contacts. The most common means of investigation include background checks, financial investigation, criminal background checks, and credit reports. Private investigators also interview witnesses, gather information, and execute searches and follow leads. Private investigators can even work off the main police force if it has jurisdiction over the area in which they are investigating.
Background investigation is the most common type of private investigation. In this case, a private investigator goes to the local courthouse where records are kept on people. They search through court records looking for any discrepancies or red flags that might reveal something about an individual. For instance, if an individual has a previous arrest for DWI, they will perform a background investigation by asking the police department about the incident. A private investigator can obtain criminal records, but not civil ones without the permission of the court. When running background investigations, private investigators typically buy a report from a background agency for $40 or less.
Financial investigation is a growing field. This entails tracking down people who are not paying their debts. Most good private investigators buy a three-year access pass to the government’s premier debt collection agency. Once they have that pass, they can buy unlimited access to the system and monitor their progress up to a year. If a debtor is constantly late with their payments, the investigator will make a note of that and pursue repayment.
Another type of investigation is surveillance. This involves following someone around, like day care workers. Some states, such as California, have something known as day care surveillance. When a private investigator buys this kind of equipment, they must pay permission from the local governing body.
Sometimes, a person’s financial history may require a more in-depth investigation. In this case, private investigators often work as investigators on their own. This means they buy information from banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies to satisfy their clients’ needs. The state may require private investigation and may require background check licensing before private investigators can take their job.
The ability to work as an investigator allows private investigators to follow a person around. They can follow them into their home or other locations to see what they’re doing. And if a suspect flees the scene of a crime, the law enforcement officers will often follow the suspect to an address that they believe is their hiding spot. All of these are the surveillance tactics that private investigators use on a daily basis.
On occasion, some employers use private investigation on their employees to make sure they aren’t hiring illegal aliens. Often times, companies hire people that have been out of the country for a long period of time. To verify this, employers will perform background checks on people who apply to work for them. Many times, the results of the background checks will include immigration status. Private investigators can use this information to either help the employer to get the employee to stay legally in the United States or to simply ensure that the employee is not an illegal alien.
Many states also allow private investigators to use video surveillance equipment for their clients. This type of equipment allows the investigator to covertly observe people in private places. Often times, video surveillance is used to monitor drug use in public settings. This is needed so that the police can do their jobs effectively.
Private investigators may also be hired by the government to monitor security at businesses, private residences and even government buildings. In the case of national security, a private investigator is usually employed by the Department of Homeland Security. Some private investigators specialize in intellectual property theft, fraud and identity theft. Sometimes they are even hired to monitor security at the General Accounting Office, the White House, the CIA and the Department of Justice.