The private investigator profession is one of the most misunderstood professions out there. There are so many misconceptions about private investigators that most people have no clue what a private investigator actually does. This profession has been heavily glamorized in Hollywood which has greatly contributed to all the confusion. Here is our short list of the most outrageous misconceptions we’ve come across yet.
We Work Every Night On Midnight Steakouts
Unlike what you see in the movies, private investigators often work in broad daylight and very rarely need to do a midnight steakout. Private investigators spend time in county records offices, libraries, interviewing witnesses, working with law offices, and uncovering criminal and credit history for business owners and landlords among many other activities during daylight hours. Lots of days are filled with making phone calls, researching, investigating insurance claims, and talking with current or new clients. Late nights for a private investigator are fewer than what you would think.
We have access to hospital, bank or phone records.
As a general rule, private investigators do not have access to information that is not public. Information held within police intelligence, or classified CIA and FBI records is not readily available to private investigators. Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic wand a PI has that will reveal this private information. Additionally, other private information such as bank account information, health records, and credit reporting information are protected by law and only accessible by permission or court order. If the party you are interested in does not give permission to reveal this information, the private investigator will not be able to access it without a subpoena. However, private investigators can engage in many surveillance techniques and connect with industry contacts including law enforcement officials which can provide a strong professional overview of the information you seek.
Similarly, private investigators can not tap into phone conversations or record private discussions in most states as it is typically against the law to record conversations without permission. Also, trespassing is still trespassing no matter the profession and it is against the law. Private investigators must work within the confines of the law in order to get the job done.
We can make legal arrests.
Private investigators are in fact private citizens and are subject to the same laws everyone else is. For various reasons, they are not allowed to make arrests. Unless they live in an area where they can make citizen’s arrests on particular circumstances, PIs are not allowed to apprehend anyone. They can, however, work closely with law enforcement and provide sufficient evidence to the police that can lead to an arrest. Incidentally, private investigators often do work in conjunction with law enforcement officials in order to solve a case.
We only catch cheating spouses.
Although catching a cheating spouse is one of the most popular reasons people think to hire a private investigator, there are all sorts of other cases that would call for a private investigator. Gaining child custody, learning about the background of a potential babysitter, and serving court papers on someone are just a few of the services private investigators can offer.
Although private investigators must work within the law, there are many other ways not necessarily known to the average person to uncover information. Private investigators often possess highly developed skill sets such as investigative research, expert surveillance, unique ability to listen and uncover information from informal conversations, and the ability to see hidden things beneath the surface. Most of all, a private investigator dedicates their time and experience to uncover the information their clients seek.