Private investigators are highly skilled at gathering information, especially information to be used in court. They have a wide variety of skills that allow them to answer questions and connect dots that many cannot. For these reasons, many are often featured in television shows and movies, leading to many misconceptions about what they actually do. Here are the top myths that persist about private investigators that you shouldn’t believe.
1. They Can Circumvent the Law
One of the most common misconceptions about private investigators is that they can circumvent the law. They do not have authority like police officers and actually have to follow the law. They cannot impersonate people or trespass on private property. In fact, private investigators need to obtain information very carefully, following the letter of the law, to ensure that it’s permissible in court.
2. They Have Access to Non-Public Information
Private investigators cannot access police, CIA, or FBI intelligence and cannot access confidential documents. However, PI’s are highly trained to use public information to their advantage. They know all of the information that is public and are trained to know what to look for and to sift through it carefully. PI’s can find information you might have missed and uncover documents you couldn’t find to find the answers you’re looking for. Additionally, PI’s often have connections with law enforcement officials that can help you get the information you’re looking for.
3. They Can Tap Phone Calls
Many people are under the impression that private investigators can tap and listen in on phone calls. However, most states have laws prohibiting anyone from listening in to other peoples phone calls. Therefore, this method is not one that’s typically used. Instead, PI’s will follow people and gather information that way, as well as interview people who might be able to provide valuable information.
4. They Can Access Bank Accounts
One of the tasks that is often given to private investigators is to locate assets. Private investigators are very skilled at finding hidden bank accounts and assets. However, they cannot actually access bank accounts. In fact, under the law, no one can access a person’s bank account without their permission. Therefore, while PI’s can locate bank accounts, they cannot access them.
5. They Can Access Credit Information
Since the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is very difficult for people to gain credit information about another person. For this reason, even PI’s will need permission to gain credit information. Additionally, any time someone inquires about a person’s credit, that person is notified. If a person has not consented to this inquiry, the inquirer will face serious consequences. For this reason, private investigators cannot access credit information.
6. They Can Record Conversations
Oftentimes, people picture private investigators talking to suspects and getting them to reveal incriminating information while secretly recording them, leading to an arrest. However, in most states, it is illegal to record a conversation without a person’s consent. Therefore, a PI cannot secretly record their conversations. However, they can take very detailed notes and are very skilled at extracting and remembering important information.
7. They’re Like Police Officers
Many people think of private investigators as a sort of renegade police officer. However, private investigators are not like police officers. They do not have any authority and are not authorized to make arrests. They also cannot run people’s license plates and cannot access police records. Although PI’s and police officers both conduct investigations, PI’s do not have the authority that police officers do.
8. Their Days are Action-Packed
Oftentimes, people picture private investigators in car chases and other dangerous situations, running from one thrill to the next. However, private investigators actually spend a lot of time in an office, collecting information online, doing research, reviewing notes, and connecting the dots in their cases. When they’re out in the world, PI’s are typically discreetly following people or conducting interviews. Private investigators are, in reality, more like researchers than anything else.
Hire O’Brien & Associates For Investigations
While many of us want to see the good in people, the world does have its fair share of dishonest and fraudulent people. O’Brien & Associate provide a variety of professional investigation services. This includes pre-fraud & fraud, collections, record keeping, process service, and more. Please contact O’Brien And Associates at (800) 225-9947 or fill out the form here to learn more.