"I've never done this before. I just really need some help and didn't know what else to do."
Calls that start in such a way are very common for private investigators to receive. Most people who call a private investigator never thought they would need such a service and are generally at a loss as to how they should proceed. Picking up the phone and calling one is a good start but every investigator works a little different. In general though, there are many services most all investigators will cover. So for this second installment of What to Expect When You Hire a Private Investigator, let's talk about things an investigator can do.
This is definitely the most used yet little known tactic of a private investigator. Private investigators generally have access to databases that aren't accessible to the general public. They also have knowledge and tactics they employ to gain knowledge of things such as assets, images, social media accounts and more. A private investigator's research isn't just limited to internet searches but can also include phone calls, emails, or even going to the courthouse.
This tactic is utilized often, especially when trying to locate people or during infidelity, child support or workman's comp investigations. Surveillance can range from watching a static location, traveling to multiple locations, or following a vehicle. While this sounds fun and exciting, oftentimes surveillance consists of long hours of waiting or stressful drives trying to follow a suspect without being noticed (much more difficult than it sounds). Surveillance is a key tactic used by investigators because it is the main way they gather solid evidence such as photographs or video of their subject. Unfortunately, no investigator can ever guarantee the results of a surveillance investigation. There is always the possibility of unforeseen circumstances sidelining even the best researched and planned out cases. However, the more thought out and planned a surveillance investigation is, the higher the likelihood the investigator will be able to catch the suspect in action. It's important to keep in mind that investigations needing surveillance can require 12, 24, or more hours to gather the necessary information. This is especially true for child custody cases.
Background reports are a mainstay of investigations. While a lot of people think they can get a free report online or at worst, just pay a few dollars, those reports are often inaccurate, old (not always a bad thing), or don't contain pertinent information. Background checks can be purchased as they are or can be used as part of initial research for long-ranging investigations. Most investigators won't use just one database, but will conduct thorough investigations that include researching social media presence, property owned, criminal records, address history and more. It is worth noting that typically, minors' backgrounds are not accessible and are considered protected information. This includes birth records of possible children or address/telephone information.
Interviews and Statements
Sometimes the best way to gather information is to interview witnesses and persons of interest. This can be tricky when it is imperative that the subject not know they are being investigated. Depending on the circumstances, word can travel quickly in smaller circles and the investigator must always be aware of the possibility of being "found out." In other cases, however, interviews and statements of witnesses can be used in situations like accidents or business fraud. The statements taken by a licensed private investigator can be used in court as evidence in lieu of the witness being present.
These are the basic services most private investigators will perform. Additional services provided depend upon the investigator's expertise and/or state and local laws. If you have a need for a private investigator, the best thing to do is to contact someone licensed in the state you need investigation completed and ask what services they offer. For a list of services Taylor Payton Investigations offers, check out our list.