What Does a Private Investigator Do?
So what does a private investigator do? How can we know when to hire him? How can he help me in my situation? These questions do not come up very often, but if they do, I am ready with an extensive list of answers. Some individuals hire private investigators so frequently that it would be next to impossible for them not to be able completing a task-whether it is professional or personal-without them.
PI’s perform investigative tasks that range from working in the field to serving as a source for law enforcement agencies and the general public. Most people don’t even realize that many private investigators are also background check specialists. Because I’ve been doing this stuff for close to 15 years, I’ll tell you that sometimes it seems like we are all a bunch of secret agents sent to gather dirt on another person just for a paycheck. The ironic part is that many of our investigations actually serve a legal purpose, such as locating someone who may own a pet, run a day care, or engage in criminal behavior. Private investigators are hired because they possess a thorough knowledge of the investigative process and an ability to uncover details that are otherwise not visible.
Some examples of tasks common to most PI’s involve surveillance. This type of activity may include tracking down whereabouts of a missing person, gathering evidence against tax frauds and financial criminals, and following a child who has been sexually abused. Surveillance may also include tailing a suspect, following a subject around the country, interviewing people for intelligence, and performing oral searches. All of these actions are carried out in the name of protecting the innocent and finding proof in the form of testimony against those guilty of committing crimes. As stated before, most PI’s specialize in one or more areas of the investigative process.
Perhaps the most important question to what does a private investigator do is he/she is always ethical? Private investigators (PI) must always remain above board at all times in order to legally conduct their job. This means they are supposed to never use unethical methods such as surveillance, lying, extortion, and threats. However, there are exceptions to this rule and some private investigators go so far as to carry out the duties in the name of protecting the innocent rather than bring guilty parties to justice.
A good private investigator will use legitimate forms of surveillance in order to collect evidence that will help prove the guilt or innocence of a suspect. There are different forms of surveillance used by investigators. Some of the most common forms of surveillance are GPS tracking, video surveillance, cell phone monitoring, interviewing witnesses, and the installation of secret cameras.
The fact is, no matter what method of surveillance a PI uses, whether it be video or spying or even cell phone monitoring, if they violate the law they can get in serious trouble. One good example of when a PI crosses the line of ethics is when he takes information obtained through surveillance and uses it for his own personal gain. When a PIs gets caught doing this they can get in trouble with the police, the district attorney and the American Civil Rights Association. An example of this would be false imprisonment or invasion of privacy.
Another issue that most people wonder about when thinking about what does a private investigator do is what does he/she do with the information he/she gathers during his/her investigation. Well, besides gathering evidence to prove the guilt of a suspect, they also need to find any public records that may have been disposed of or erased. These include traffic tickets, criminal records, birth and death records, divorces and adoptions and much more. As stated before, many investigative professionals specialize in surveillance, especially computer surveillance.
In today’s day and age many employers are using private investigators to track their employees’ whereabouts. This is done in an effort to prevent theft of company property and employee theft. An employer may want to know where an employee is taking the company vehicle, for example. Another reason an employer may hire an investigator is to gather intelligence on potential employees so they can make an educated decision on whether or not to hire them based on their personal history.