What Is A Private Investigator?

Private investigators have long been viewed as enigmatic crime-solving detectives called in to solve a mystery while smoking a cigarette and wearing a trench coat. While the private investigation field can have its exciting moments, the world of Noir PIs and Magnum PI are hardly accurate representations of what private investigators actually do. Whether you’re an attorney, business owner or aspiring private investigator, it’s important to learn what PIs are, and what services they’re able to provide!

A Private Investigator is essentially a freelance detective, capable of performing many services that law enforcement are either incapable of performing, or would otherwise ignore. Private investigators are not beholden to many of the restrictions placed on law enforcement, and thus can go to far greater extents to complete tasks for their clients. Whether it’s performing surveillance on a cheating spouse or gathering intel for an attorney on the subject of a personal injury case, private investigators can freely choose what cases they do or don’t take.

Who A Private Investigator Works For

As private investigators have the freedom to select their clients, a PI can work for a variety of clients, such as:

  • Law Firms
  • Attorneys
  • Small Businesses
  • Corporations
  • Private Parties
  • Celebrities
  • …and more!

As long as the client has a reasonable case and the budget to accommodate their investigator, a PI will take on any client. However, if you’re an aspiring PI, don’t automatically assume large corporations and celebrities will comprise the majority of your clientele – such clients will only approach seasoned private investigators with a reputation for discretion and a resume full of successfully completed high-profile cases!

What A PI Can and Can’t Do

Private investigators’ restrictions vary state-to-state. In all states, however, PIs can perform the basics of surveillance: following an individual and taking photos/video while in public locations. However, for other surveillance approaches like using a GPS tracker, it varies state-to-state. For things like hacking into a computer or phone, a PI cannot directly hack your device – they can, however, tell you if it’s been hacked into. Similarly, a PI cannot legally obtain bank statements or account information, or obtain travel information on an individual.

Private Investigator Myths vs. Reality

Understanding the myths and realities of the private investigation field will allow you to better utilize your hired private detective. While they’re unable to perform illegal tasks, their understanding of the “grey areas” often allow you to glean information regarding an individual without searching in the obvious areas. If a private investigator has a strong inclination that a subject may be keeping money in a particular bank account, for example, an attorney could then be able to get the courts to conduct a search. Similar examples further prove the usefulness of a private investigator, as the reality of the profession revolves around obtaining information in a discreet yet uncontestable manner.

Private Investigators: A Thrilling Profession & Irreplaceable Resource

If performing surveillance in major cities at all hours of the day and night sounds exciting to you, and if you’re willing to go to great lengths for your clients’ needs, becoming a private investigator may be the best career choice you ever make. Similarly, for businesses, celebrities and attorneys looking for a partner capable of obtaining information for them in a swift and professional manner, a private investigator will outpace law enforcement in nearly every scenario due to the less restrictive nature of the profession. Find an investigator near you today!