What is a Private Investigator?
A private investigator is a person who is paid to gather facts by individuals or businesses independent of the government. They conduct thorough, professional investigations and report their findings to their employers. They are also referred to as PI’s, short for ‘private eyes,’ a term coined by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, formed in 1850 by Allan Pinkerton in Chicago, USA. The first known agency, the Surete Nationale or National Security, was formed in 1811 in Paris, France by a former criminal and the father of modern criminology, Eugene Francois Vidocq. Both organizations practiced investigation for law enforcement agencies in their respective countries, but detectives also practice other sorts of investigations. They work for clients who want to know another persons secrets, like infidelity, family secrets, or a hidden past; for attorneys in civil lawsuit cases; for insurance companies to investigate suspicious cases for fraud; for investors and fund managers who need to pursue due diligence in new business ventures; for attorneys and their clients in cases of divorce, probing for evidence of adultery or other negligible behavior that could affect child custody, alimony, or marital property disputes; and in the newest field, as computer forensics specialists.
Most jurisdictions in most countries require a private investigator to be licensed. License information is public, and may be accessed at ones local governing agency. Depending on local laws, a PI may or may not be allowed to carry a fire arm. Many states and districts require a clean criminal history for applicants. Qualities deemed important for private detectives include: communication skills, like listening and asking appropriate questions; honesty, because being truthful gains the trust of clients and people they investigate, as well as earns credibility in a courtroom; Inquisitiveness, since they must want to search for the truth; problem solving skills, since he or she must think on their feet and make decisions quickly; and resourcefulness, since they must persistently with oftentimes, limited leads to predict what a person of interest will do next. Typically, private detectives have experience in a related field, most often in law enforcement, the military, or government intelligence agencies. Other entrants to the field have worked for debt collection agencies, insurance companies, for attorneys as paralegals, in accounting, finance, or computer technology/science. The majority of private investigators learn on the job, but for specialized fields like computer forensics or corporate financial investigating, a bachelor’s or higher degree may be required.
Most typically, a private investigator researches cases at the request of businesses, attorneys, and individuals. They offer a variety of services, based on client needs, such as investigating employees suspected of theft, or probing into the accounts of a supplier suspected of fraudulent billing. They utilize many methods and tools when conducting an inquiry on a case for a client. They make phone calls and confirm or deny facts, and conduct interviews with parties related to the case. They spend a good deal of time on the computer, where information such as criminal records, telephone numbers, addresses, social networking information, and other activity of the involved party or parties may be obtained, if one knows where and how to look. Surveillance may be used, during which the PI will watch a site to gather information, like a person’s house, or place of employment, If the case requires it, the PI may go undercover, assuming a false identity, in order to observe a subject without the subjects knowledge, using binoculars, a camera or video camera. Just as the observed party in a case must obey the laws of the land, so must the PI adhere to local and federal laws when conducting investigations. A professional private investigator takes into consideration privacy and other legal issues when conducting investigations, so that their work may be used in court, and/or their clients’ ethics and integrity be protected. click here for more information about Private Investigator