Private investigators, a.k.a. private detective or investigation agent is someone who can be legally hired by people, institutions or NGOs to undertake investigative duties. Private investigators can also work for lawyers in criminal and civil matters. However, an investigator may also work as a private citizen without any permission from a government agency or law.
Private investigators can be categorized into different types like intelligence investigators, corporate investigators, investigative journalists, private security agents and computer forensic experts. These various types of private investigators have different professional experience and qualifications, and work in different fields. Private investigators engaged in corporate and financial crimes are called corporate investigators. Financial investigators are responsible for identifying the source of funding for a crime. Intelligence investigators monitor activities of foreign intelligence sources like their assets and sources of communications.
Private detectives are categorized as investigators, defense attorneys, corporate investigators, and intelligence analysts, private security agents and police officers. A detective is an employee of a particular firm who carries out secret surveillance or ‘black bag’ surveillance on behalf of another firm. In the United States, as part of the civil service, private detectives are also called corporate spies. A detective may also work as an Intelligence Analyst in the field of national security. The most common areas of private investigation include:
Private Investigators are required to have the skills in using computers, writing reports, interviewing witnesses and suspects, and use of secret tactics and methods. Since investigations depend on the collation and compilation of facts by the private detectives, it is important that they possess good written communication skills, problem-solving abilities and the ability to organize and summarize their findings. Private detectives must always put the interest of their client first and conduct their job accordingly.
Private investigation is becoming more popular for corporate and public sector organizations to utilise in resolving business disputes, resolving legal issues, providing intelligence to law enforcement agencies, and tracking down perpetrators of crimes. A private investigator may be employed by a private firm, to gather evidence on a current or former client to build a case against the client. Often, private investigators will collaborate with other professionals to conduct a thorough investigation of a case. These professionals can include lawyers, financial investigators, corporate executives, venture capitalists, and forensic scientists.
The most familiar type of investigative job is “rending” a case, which involves following a lead, investigating the case, interviewing witnesses and suspects, obtaining information from various sources to build a solid case. Another common type of private investigator job is “stage fright”, where a private investigator is required to stage an investigation before reporting it to a particular law enforcement agency or private firm. Stage fright is often cited when investigators become nervous during a presentation or when they do not know what to say to make an impression. Private property investigators (also referred to as “intrusion Agents”) are often employed by corporate security firms, corporate personnel, and attorneys to locate and record information regarding suspicious activities that may be occurring at a business location.
Private investigators must have excellent interpersonal skills to obtain information and build cases with co-workers. Each state has a different set of rules and regulations regarding private investigators and their licensing. In order to obtain a federal license, which is the most common, private investigators must undergo a written application that demonstrates their experience and training as a specialized investigative agent. Most private investigators are licensed by the state in which they work, but all state licenses are not identical.
Some states require private investigators to be fingerprinted before they can legally serve as private investigators in those states. Each state also differs when it comes to determining the validity and residency requirements for a private investigator’s license. Private investigators may also be required to take an examination and pass a background or credibility examination in order to obtain a federal license. Private investigators typically meet the residency requirements of the state in which they work; however, many private investigators do not.