How Private Investigators Work?

Have you ever tried carrying out an investigation, only to hit a dead end? Well, you’re not alone! Many people have experienced the same thing. That’s why private investigators can help you! Private investigators can do some snooping for you (legally) and help you reach a logical conclusion based on their findings. They can solve a range of problems, from finding missing persons to investigating a fiscal fraud.

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However, be careful! People typically assume that it is well within the legal rights of private investigators to invade privacy and breach privacy laws. While there are many things private investigators can legally do, there are still many things that they cannot do. So, before hiring an investigator, always make sure you know how private investigators work.

What Are Private Investigators?

You can hire private investigators to investigate virtually anything. Usually, people hire them to investigate legal, financial, and personal matters. Most private investigators tend to be high school diploma holders. However, some companies may require investigators to hold a two or 4-year college degree in criminal justice or police studies to secure high-level jobs. Investigators with just a high school diploma shouldn’t worry you though!  Many companies offer intense training after hiring investigators.

Over time, investigators specialize in one particular field where they excel. For example, a bank may hire an investigator with some expertise in finance. People who want to find missing persons will prefer someone experienced in criminal investigations. It’s difficult to find one that can excel in every field.

For an investigator to work in a professional company, all they have to do is to pass a training period. The type and duration of training vary from company to company. However, some common things are taught by every company, including the proper way to conduct investigations, reconstructing the crime scenes, and going deep in any investigation.

How Private Investigators Work?

People hire private investigators for various purposes. While it is true that most private investigators have one particular field of expertise, many general investigators can help you in most types of cases.

Private investigators work on cases involving financial fraud, child custody issues, missing people, property fraud, infidelity investigations, and background checks. However, most people that hire private investigators don’t know what they can or cannot do. So, let’s find out!

What Can Private Investigators Do?

There are a lot of things you can ask your private investigator to do. We’ve listed down the legal activities that a private investigator can partake in:

  • Private investigators can monitor someone’s movements to know more about their activities and routines.
  • They can gather a person’s records. For example, they can gather residential addresses, phone numbers, and information about people’s properties.
  • Private investigators can legally look into people’s trash outside their place of residence.
  • They can interview people living near the person they are investigating, including relatives, neighbors, and close friends.
  • Private investigators can look into online databases to find criminal records, current and previous relationship status, mortgages records, and other similar things.

What Private Investigators Cannot Do

Despite being able to do more than the ordinary individual, there are various activities that a private investigator still can’t do legally. We’ve listed down things that your investigators can’t do to ensure that investigators stay within their legal limits.

  • As your investigators is not a government official, they cannot arrest anyone even if they see them committing a crime.
  • It is illegal for a private investigator to impersonate a law enforcement official. So, you cannot ask them to carry a badge or wear police or military uniform.
  • Private investigators cannot record any phone calls without consent.
  • During an investigation, a private investigator cannot bribe someone, hack e-mails, or harass people to extract information.
  • A private investigator is not allowed to trespass on private property.
  • Most private investigators can’t work without a license. However, some states allow you to hire someone without a license.
  • An investigator can’t enter a house without the owner’s consent.
  • They are not allowed to take pictures through a house’s windows or doors without the consent of the residents.
  • It is illegal to obtain any information with the intent of disclosing it to the public to harm someone.
  • Getting a person’s phone records without their consent is also illegal for private investigators, so you can’t ask them for this.
  • A private investigator cannot put a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle without their consent.
  • They can’t obtain records of financial transactions without a person’s consent, either.

Are They Effective?

Hiring investigators to solve complex problems is an established practice. If you look back at the history of the private investigators, you’ll find that this practice started in 1833.

When looking for answers and needing help, you can hire a professional investigator who will help you to solve the issue effectively. When hiring a private investigator, it is essential to research carefully, so you make the right choice.

Some private investigators work individually, while others work for a professional company. The difference between the two types lies in training. When hiring from a reputable company, you can be sure that the investigator has been trained thoroughly. With individual investigators, you can never be certain – unless they are well-known. So, take an in-depth look at both options before making a final decision.


Many people have successfully solved their issues with the help of private investigators. The growing popularity of private investigations also speaks volumes about its effectiveness.

Many of us try to solve our problems ourselves, but if you’re facing any challenges in doing so, hiring an investigator will save you time and get you answers – though it will cost you money.

Just remember, it is always a great idea to learn more about what these investigators can and cannot do legally. Otherwise, you may run into trouble with law enforcement – especially if your investigator is not linked to a company and works alone.

Interesting Related Article: “Surprising Information You Can Learn as a Private Investigator