Methods Used By A Private Investigator

When we conjure up the historical romanticized idea of a private investigator, Sherlock Holmes quickly comes to mind. While today’s private investigators are not of the fictional and whimsical variety, they still employ the essential trustworthy methods of history’s great detectives which include utilizing human sources, accessing public records and employing surveillance.

Private investigators, or PIs, are typically licensed private citizens with various types of training and experience. They are usually employed by private citizens or businesses to seek, collect, examine and identify facts in civil and criminal cases. Good PIs have a thorough knowledge of interviewing, research, and surveillance techniques.

One of the most essential ways PIs can gather useful information and facts is through the use of human sources. The utilization of human sources involves collecting information by conducting interviews. PIs interview suspects, witnesses and bystanders to gather information. Persons being interviewed are not legally obligated to speak to a PI. As a result, PIs typically devote time to developing a rapport with potential interviewees. An example of utilizing a human source would be interviewing a person who has witnessed a motor vehicle accident.

Another effective method PIs employ for collecting reliable information is accessing and assessing public records. Public records or documents include most significant events in an individual’s life. These events include births, deaths, marriages, vital statistics, judgements in court, criminal records, voter registration, real estate transactions, military service, employment history, name changes, business licenses and Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records. Consultation of public records can provide a reliable outline for an individual’s background history. Public records can also be used to research genealogy and family history. An example of using public records for an investigation would be reviewing the DMV records of a person involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Finally, one of the most tried-and-true methods of a PI is surveillance. Surveillance is used to locate individuals, assets, and places of employment. While the basic idea behind surveillance is very simple, actually conducting surveillance can be quite difficult and time consuming. PIs conduct successful surveillance by selecting the proper legal locations and equipment needed to obtain evidence. Public property is an ideal location for surveillance and helps PIs avoid any legal issues. In many jurisdictions, the surveillance itself is legal, especially if the PI has notified the local authorities of their presence. An example of employing surveillance for an investigation would be monitoring a person who has filed an insurance claim after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

The utilization of human sources, accessing public records and employing surveillance are three of the most basic yet practiced methods of a PI. Established PIs are able to successfully employ all three of these obvious yet difficult to employ practices for collecting case information. Even the great Sherlock Holmes made use of these effective methods.
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