Private Investigators: How Far Can They Go?

Private Investigators: How Far Can They Go?

If you’re thinking about hiring a private investigator, whether it’s to follow a cheating partner or perform a tenant check, it’s important to understand what they can and cannot do.

Despite what you may have seen on TV shows and in the movies Private Investigators are restricted on how far they can go but this doesn’t mean they can’t help you out in most situations.

So, before you employ a PI here’s what they can and cannot do so you know exactly what to expect from them.

What can a private investigator help you with?

First of all, let’s establish what service a private investigator can actually perform. A PI can assist you with any of the following things:

  • Accident Investigations
  • Tenant Reference Checks
  • Insurance Claims
  • Personal or Private investigations
  • Matrimonial
  • Surveillance
  • Employment References
  • CV Verification
  • Electronic Fraud
  • Surveillance
  • Divorce investigations
  • Cheating partners
  • Background checks on individuals or companies
  • Evidence gathering
  • Witness interviews
  • Undercover operations
  • Close protection
  • Security consultations
  • Corporate investigations
  • Financial investigations

How far can they go?

A private investigator can follow someone and perform a stakeout as long as they carry this out on the public property. They are allowed to set up remote cameras and tracking vehicles that use a national database to obtain evidence for their project all without overstepping any legal boundaries.

A PI is legally allowed to use a GPS device that is tagged to a vehicle or person in order to trace their movements and find their location. They are also permitted to talk to relatives, friends, and colleagues of the person in question to find out information about their whereabouts. An impressively skilled private investigator will be able to encourage people to divulge information unintentionally. If that means lying to someone about who they are, that’s okay and the information they gain from doing this can significantly help their case. If they feel like eavesdropping on someone’s conversation may help them to gain information this is also perfectly acceptable. There are no laws against either of these methods.

 In addition to this, they can also obtain information by running a person’s car registration plate if they have the legal grounds to do so.

The main benefit of using a private investigator is that they generally have access to expensive, state of the art equipment and databases meaning they can perform thorough background checks and collect public information from different locations. This information can be essential to helping them track someone down or monitor their behaviour.


What can’t they do?

Being a private investigator might sound cool but it doesn’t mean they are above the law, they must still abide by the rules. They cannot trespass on private property without permission and they aren’t allowed to hack into computers or phones, this includes wiretapping and breaking into social media accounts. They are only allowed to do this if they have the owner’s permission.

They can lie through their teeth about who they are to gain sensitive and personal information about someone the only thing they can’t do is impersonate a police officer or any other public official and they certainly can’t arrest anyone.

Obtaining bank records is also off-limits unless they are working directly with a lawyer.

Taking pictures of someone out in public that can easily be seen by any passerby is totally within the law, however, as soon as that person is behind closed doors or in their garden or any private property that means they can’t be seen with the naked eye, this becomes unacceptable.

When planning to hire a private investigator it’s important that you research as much as possible to find an effective and reliable PI that will act in a professional and discreet manner. This way you will get successful results while knowing no boundaries have been crossed. 

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