About Private Investigators

Private detectives and investigators use many methods to determine the facts in a variety of matters. To carry out investigations, they may use various types of surveillance or searches.

To verify facts, such as an individual’s place of employment or income, they may make phone calls or visit a subject’s workplace. In other cases, especially those involving missing persons and background checks, investigators often interview people to gather as much information as possible about an individual. In all cases, private detectives and investigators assist attorneys, businesses, and the public with legal, financial, and personal problems.

Private Investigator About

Private Investigator Services

A private detective can offer many services, including executive, corporate, and celebrity protection; pre-employment verification; and individual background profiles. They investigate computer crimes, such as identity theft, harassing e-mails, and illegal downloading of copyrighted material. They also provide assistance in civil liability and personal injury cases, insurance claims and fraud, child custody and protection cases, missing person cases, and premarital screening. They are sometimes hired to investigate individuals to prove infidelity.

Most detectives and investigators are trained to perform physical surveillance. They may observe a site, such as the home of a subject, from an inconspicuous location or a vehicle. They continue the surveillance, which is often carried out using still and video cameras, binoculars, and a cell phone, until the desired evidence is obtained. This watching and waiting often continues for a long time.

Detectives also may perform computer database searches or work with someone who does. Computers allow investigators to quickly obtain massive amounts of information on individuals’ prior arrests, convictions, and civil legal judgments; telephone numbers; motor vehicle registrations; association and club memberships; and other matters.

Private Investigators Licensing

There is no federal regulation or oversight of private detectives. Most states have some type of licensing requirement before someone can charge for investigative services. In most places, a private detective working inside for a private company does not need to be licensed provided they only conduct investigation for that company internally.

Some states require that license applicants have a certain amount of experience, others have an examination that private detective applicants must pass and several have both. Nearly all require that the private detective have a clean criminal history. There are still several states that do not require any type of professional license to act as a private detective.

Private Investigators General Information

Private detectives and investigators use many means to determine the facts. To carry out investigations, they observe suspects and conduct searches. To verify facts, such as a person’s job or income, they make phone calls or visit the work place. In other cases, such as background checks, they interview people to gather information.

Private detectives and investigators offer many services. They provide protection for people, such as celebrities, who need it. They do background checks for police and other agencies. They help lawyers or insurance companies with cases, such as personal injury or insurance fraud. They often are hired to investigate people in divorce disputes.

Most investigators are trained to do surveillance, which is the observation of people. Investigators may conduct surveillance for long periods of time. They observe a site, such as a person’s home, from a car or van. They use binoculars and still or video cameras to observe and record evidence. In the office, detectives use computers to obtain large quantities of data. They search for phone numbers, motor vehicle data, probate records, and other data that may help them investigate a person. Often a private detective will work on court cases for law firms or lawyers. They help prepare criminal defenses and locate and interview witnesses. They serve legal documents and talk to police. They also gather and review evidence.