Common Misconceptions About Private Investigators

Detectives working in private agency

The list of reasons why people consider hiring a private investigator grows constantly, and with it, common misconceptions of what private investigators really are. Let us debunk some of these myths which may have been falsely reinforced by what you have seen or heard from one of those thrilling detective movies.

Spying on Others

Although much information can be gained through insight into a person’s private conversations or home the following are prohibited by law:

  • Trespassing and picking locks: Permission must be obtained from the owner before entering a property, building, or house.
  • Installation of wiretapping devices or the usage of recording devices: Although listening in on conversations may be a great way to obtain useful information, one-party or two-party consent is required depending on the location. This means, either one party can record the conversation without the other being aware that the conversation is being recorded, or both parties must be made aware before the conversation can be recorded.

Although the above may not be allowed, carrying out stakeouts or observing a person in public is not against the law and much information and evidence can be still be gathered through these investigative techniques.

Wearing a Uniform or Carrying a Badge

Although specific licensing is required to be a private investigator in majority of the states, they are neither licensed to carry a badge as they are not part of the law enforcement, nor are they allowed to wear a uniform or impersonate a law enforcement officer. In certain places where a badge is required, they are careful to avoid giving the impression that they are with the law enforcement officers.

Arresting Someone

While private investigators can help to gather information and provide documentation on the crime which could lead to a person’s arrest, they would not be the one carrying out the actual arrest unless it is within their jurisdiction. Again, this would depend on the location they are in. They can, however, assist to detain a person until the police arrives.

Obtaining Someone’s Private Information

Private investigators can help to obtain and gather different records, monitor a person’s movements and activities, investigate affairs, or comb through available online databases for information such as criminal records, marital history, mortgage information, social media profiles, owned properties etc.

However, they cannot hack into a person’s account online or access protected information. For example, they could find out what type of bank account a person has but would not be able to find out how much money is stored in the bank. Depending on the location they are in, there may be other types of protected information that a private investigator may not have access to.

Selling a Client’s Information

Some may hesitate to reach out to private investigators in fear that their personal information may be disclosed at the right price. However, any respectable and licensed agency would be professional and discreet in handling your investigation.

Curious to find out more? Reach out to us at Probity Investigations for a free consultation today.