What Does A Private Detective Do?

Private detectives, also known as private investigators, work to uncover the facts of a case that a client asks them to solve. It’s important to understand that private detectives are not law enforcement officials and as such, they don’t have the power to arrest anybody. Neither are they able to legally break into a property to gather evidence. While police officers work for the government, private investigators are paid to gather information by private clients on a variety of cases.

The job of private detectives generally requires them to interview people to obtain useful information; search documents in public records, libraries and computers and conduct surveillance operations where they monitor the comings and goings of a subject. They can conduct a background investigation about a person and verify such information as their place of work, their income and other personal details. They can be asked to find marriage and divorce records, birth and death records and past criminal history. They may have to go through a subject’s life so thoroughly that they can uncover hidden wealth both locally and abroad, confirm his Social Security number and find out the amount of his debts and assets.

Private detectives are hired by insurance firms to help them determine cases of insurance fraud which are prevalent among those seeking to get disability benefits. They get evidence in the form of pictures or videos of people who claim disability insurance because they are supposedly unable to work. The private investigators may find out that these disabled individuals still manage to do heavy lifting and perform other chores. Private investigators may also be hired to get evidence of shady business deals in business fraud cases.

The image of Sherlock Holmes disguising himself in various ways in order to obtain information about a case is a stereotypical depiction of a private investigator. While modern-day investigators don’t necessarily put on wigs and thick makeup to make themselves look different, they may still disguise themselves so they can perform undercover tasks. For example, they may be asked to pose as buyers of a counterfeit or stolen item so that the transaction can be recorded and receipts obtained so that a case can be filed against these businesses.

Private investigators can also be asked to determine the location of missing persons. For example, they may be asked to look for someone who has been made the beneficiary of a relative’s will. Their services may also be hired to help find missing children and reunite them with their families. Others hire private investigators to help them identify who their biological fathers or mothers are. When solving these kinds of cases, private detectives are always careful in revealing the whereabouts of the person being located to the client to prevent cases of stalking. In some detective agencies, they always ask the located person’s permission before giving his or her contact information to the one requesting that he or she be found.

Husbands or wives who suspect that their spouses are cheating on them may hire the services of a private investigator to determine if their suspicions are true. Their findings in these cases are usually used by clients as evidence when they file for divorce and/or get custody of their children. In child custody cases, the spouse who is seeking custody may hire a private investigator to prove that the child is much safer and better off in his or her care than in the care of his or her spouse.

Most of the work of private investigators involves researching facts and information in front of a computer and tracking subjects from their cars. The latter involves a skill that they need to master to succeed in this profession—that of following people without losing them and without getting caught. Private investigators also need to develop rapport with people before they can start asking them questions about the case they are investigating. This is important because unlike police officers, they don’t have the power to apprehend or compel them to share information against their will.

Private investigators have to be resourceful and careful when it comes to acquiring evidence and information. When obtained illegally, these may not be admitted as evidence in a case and thus be detrimental to their client. Since they are not law enforcement officers, they have to make sure that all their investigations are done within the bounds of the law. Otherwise, they themselves could become the subjects of expensive lawsuits.

Career Spotlight: Detective



Detectives investigate crimes, typically for police departments. Law enforcement agencies use the work of detectives when trying to solve a crime or when collecting evidence for prosecutorial cases. T[...]

Leave A Comment