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What Private Investigators Can and Cannot Do

Some myths circulate around private investigators and the things they do. The television portrays them as detectives who are on a mission to find out something no matter what. That part is true. But sometimes, in TV and movies, they are shown to do quite a number of things but in real life are not applicable or even possible. Let’s get to know more about the real deal. Here we answer the most common questions people ask about what private investigators can and cannot do.

1. Can they follow someone?

Yes, they can. That’s what they’re famous for. There is a term for that – Surveillance. And it is legal so as long as the investigator is within the law. This is done by attentively watching a person and how he or she acts and interacts, where the location is, who he or she is involved with, and documenting it. In other words, private investigators can actually follow and observe your spouse or partner and know if they are cheating on you. There are two kinds of surveillance: fixed surveillance and mobile surveillance. Judging from the names, you can get the idea. Fixed surveillance is staying input wherever you are and not moving. Mobile surveillance is being out and about trying to follow someone. But private investigators can’t trespass a private property. But they can be in public ones and even take pictures.

2. Can they break the law?

No, they can’t. Well technically they can, but they can get into trouble just like everyone else. They can’t enforce the law, represent it or a law officer. If clients ask them to do something against the law, they will turn it down.

3. Can they hack into your phone, computer, email, or social media accounts?

No, they can’t. Legally they can’t. Only hackers can do that. Which is illegal on all counts. Checking in to other people’s social or business accounts or electronic devices will only be legal if you ask their permission and they let you. In which case is no longer a private investigation.

4. Can they get bank records?

No, they can’t. Public records, they can. Private ones? Absolutely not. Bank records are protected. They cannot get them unless they work with a lawyer, which can be almost impossible.

5. Can they work with the police?

Yes, they can, if they’re asked to. Sometimes (but not all the time), private investigators are asked to give their opinion on a case especially if it involves homicide and the police pronounce suicide but the relatives believe it to be something else. Private investigators can get hired to investigate further.

Private investigators are highly skilled to do their job. Only five states don’t require private investigators to own a license. Having a license means a private investigator’s behavior is being supervised. If you feel like you need something to be investigated (just as long as it’s within the law), hire a private investigator to do it for you.