A private detective, a private investigator, or private investigation agent, is someone who may be hired by people, organizations or NGOs to undertake investigative functions. Private investigators are often employed by lawyers in civil and criminal matters. The scope of their activities may include tracking down stolen personal assets, uncovering financial frauds and conducting private investigations on business rivals. There are many types of private investigators. One type is that specializing in financial crimes.
Private detectives who work in the financial domain may be tapped by stockbrokers or other corporate figures to investigate whether companies they represent are engaging in securities frauds. There are also private investigators who specialize in the surveillance of corporate whistle blowing. Corporate insiders are alleged to be behind the leaks about corporate secrets. In such instances, the investigator takes the lead role as he monitors the company’s moves to find out more and determine what exactly is happening. Sometimes, corporate surveillance depends upon tips provided by private detectives who monitor the happenings at the office or other places where corporate secrets are being hatched.
In many instances, private detectives are also hired to perform surveillance work for the government. This may involve tracking down illegal activities of political organizers and opposition leaders. In fact, many private detectives provide services to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in this respect. These agencies recruit detective agents to carry out undercover surveillance operations within political parties, trade unions, environmentalist groups, anti-government groups and other groups to gather intelligence information against specific targets.
Another important facet of the private investigation job is that it can be utilized to gather evidence against people for the commission of a crime. The main purpose of gathering evidence against people is not just to convict them but also to collect evidence to establish their guilt. There are many ways by which private detectives accomplish this task. One way is to secretly observe the suspects during certain incidents. Such observations help the investigators to gather proof against the suspects.
There are certain techniques used by private detectives in order to gather evidence against anyone. They follow a systematic procedure that helps them verify the information given by the suspect. For instance, if a person swears by a specific number, they should observe how often such number appears on his or her phone. If such number is observed frequently on the phone then the suspect is probably making a habit of lying under the pretext of increasing his/her powers of observation. Thus, the method of employing digital cameras to track people using their cellular phones is also commonly adopted by these criminal investigators.
Today, private detectives also perform background checks on people who apply for a job and are candidates for a particular post. Many employers nowadays conduct background checks as part of their pre screening procedures. In the past, background checks were only performed on prospective employees for positions like security guards and sanitation workers.
However, many state employers now use private detectives to perform this task as well. Private detectives too are expected to comply with the standards set forth by state law. Some states even have laws pertaining to the conducting of an investigative surveillance. In such states, the detective is required to inform the employer of the reason for the surveillance. Failure to comply with the state law may result in the detective being subjected to arrest.
Besides performing investigative and background checks, private detectives also conduct sting operations as part of their duty. Under such sting operations the detective contacts a suspect by phone and pretending to be searching for some legal or personal advice. Once the suspect confirms the call he/she agrees to give the detective access to any hidden data. Under the circumstances, the detective either buys the data from the customer or sells it to a third party. Although most states have made it mandatory for detective agencies to obtain a court warrant before conducting surveillance, some companies choose to operate their business without following the law.