I think you will agree with me when I say that hiring a private investigator is a major investment, one that more often than not, will help you get your matter resolved.
If you are considering hiring a private investigator, you should know there are things he/she can & can’t do.
For simplicity sake, I will refer to private investigators as “he.”
In today’s article, we will go over specific points that will demonstrate what a private investigator can and cannot do.
But before we get started, let us take a step back to highlight some of the things a private investigator CAN do for you.
A private investigator can offer you his professional services should you want to:
- Find date of births
- Follow a suspected cheating spouse
- Retrieve birth/death records
- Gather evidence on a case
- Undercover operations
- Find missing persons
- Locating witnesses for a civil or criminal lawsuit
- Run background checks, among many others
After reviewing some of the things a private investigator can always do, let us now examine the other side of the coin to discuss what private investigators cannot do.
Keep in mind that these are requests PIs won’t fulfill because they go against their code of conduct/ethics, and because some of them are straight up illegal.
1. Banking and Financial Records
It is impossible for a PI to get specific information on a bank account unless, a court order or subpoena is in place, or the account holder consents to it.
2. Phone Records
In the US, no third party is granted access to telephone records of individuals. Even though you can find an unreliable way to identify the carrier for a specific phone number, there is an added layer of security that restricts access to phone logs and phone records.
Private investigators are not allowed to lie or deceive someone to get the information they are after. While this might not be illegal, it is certainly unethical.
4. Using Tracking Devices
A PI will not use a tracking device such as a GPS to keep tabs on an individual. Placing a GPS tracker without receiving explicit consent is a federal violation. Here is a resource that can give you some perspective as to when it’s Okay to use a GPS tracking device.
A private investigator will never get information forcefully from anyone, even if he is convinced that the person is withholding information. A private eye’s ultimate goal is to get compelling evidence in the most discreet manner.
6. Credit Checks
Credit reports or credit information is only available to the account holder, so a private investigator would not only need consent from the individual but also, a legal reason for viewing the document. Here are 7 occasions when it’s OK to check someone else’s credit report.
7. Mail Tampering
Opening or tampering with someone’s mail is a federal offense, and no private investigator is ready to risk losing his license because of that.
Entering a property without the owner’s consent is an unlawful intrusion. Breaking in or using any other illegal means is a criminal activity and the private investigator will get punished if he is caught doing that.
A private investigator should not make use either wiretapping, to get information. In a nutshell, a person should know that he/she is being recorded beforehand. When it comes to recording phone calls, the keyword you should remember is “Consent.”
Private investigators in the United States are not authorized to make arrests, so unduly detaining or restraining an individual is something only law enforcement personnel can do on a case-by-case basis.
No Private Investigator will ever agree to impersonate an individual irrespective of the case at hand. And, in case you are wondering, impersonating a police officer is punishable by hefty fines, imprisonment (5+ years), probation & a permanent criminal record.
Private investigators may be paid for their services, but they will not go as far as attempting to take someone’s life just because you will be paying them, their job is to find evidence, not to attack people.
13. False Testimony
A PI will never offer false testimony, and he will never doctor evidence no matter how many times someone asks for it.
14. Attempts on Life
When a private investigator is having attempts on his life due to a case he is investigating. He should report the incident to the local police department after which he may be forced to back out of the case. A PI is not allowed to pursue a case while endangering his own life.
A private investigator will never hack into someone’s private accounts. Computer hacking can carry misdemeanor or felony penalties depending on the state. Private investigators have the obligation to get their evidence in a discreet and legal way.
Share this post with your friends, and let us know; what other things do you think a private investigator cannot or should not do? We’d love to hear your opinion.