The number of people working as private investigators has been growing at a rate of 2.29%. There were 93,957 people working as private investigators in 2018. In 2019, the number grew up to approximately 96,107 people.
As a private investigator or detective, you can be hired by a wide variety of people and groups. Private citizens, NGOs, attorneys, and established firms are among potential clients.
This industry has a huge potential, and that is why every private investigator or detective must know exactly how to go about the process of unearthing mysteries and criminal activities. Here are 8 tips for private investigators to keep in mind.
1. Have a detailed intake sheet
Once you get into contact with a client, start gathering as much information as possible. Make sure you write down the most important details. Remember that your client is almost always going to give you basic information only.
It is your duty to inquire further for more information with investigative research software. The subject’s marital status, doctor’s appointments, number of children, and hobbies are just a few of the details you should take note of. This information can help you understand your subject more clearly.
- Take note of the main complaint
- Allow clients to share all information they know
- Determine if the case is worth your time and skills
2. Create a plan of action
If you are a new private investigator, do not get too excited so that you fail to create a plan of action. You need to know exactly what answers your client’s needs. You should have specific questions for the client, witnesses, and possibly the suspect or subject. Getting answers to these questions should bring you closer to the truth.
- Make a list of possible witnesses
- Determine possible suspects
- Come up with suitable questions for all involved
- Have a clear work plan
3. Utilize a quailty public record databases
Sometimes the information you get from your client is incomplete. Not because they are unwilling to share what they know; rather, they honestly don’t know everything. A public record database is an excellent place for you to check when in need of more information. A good example of such a resource is the Tracers database. The resource can be accessed from any device at any time.
- Use available public record databases such as Tracers
- Such resources are available on multiple devices
4. Avoid making pre-judgement
A common mistake that private investigators make is to pre-judge a situation. Just because your client believes someone is guilty of something doesn’t make it true. The complainant, who is most likely your client, probably has a bias against the subject. That often makes every information they share partially.
Before you jump to any conclusion, make sure to carry out a thorough examination of the issues raised. If possible, try to get to the other side of the story. Only base your final report on things you can verify to be true and factual. If you include any hearsay or opinion, the chances are that the subject can easily win the case in court.
- Gather as much information as possible from all involved
- Don’t let your emotions or biases cloud your judgment
- Avoid judging people without enough Evidence
5. Sharpen your surveillance skills
Surveillance may form part of your private investigations. That is why you need to know exactly how to go about it. If you are using a car, make sure it is one that is easy to forget or common.
Invest in state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, including cameras and sound capture devices. Get into position as early as 6 in the morning, or else your client may slip out without your knowledge. Avoid unnecessary toilet and snack breaks because it is during such moments that you lose important information.
- Use state-of-the-art surveillance equipment
- Have self-discipline during fieldwork
- Start work early and finish late if necessary
6. Keep everything factual
Among the most important PI tips is keeping everything factual. There are times when you will come across individuals who are just unpleasant. Such people may have little respect for others and engage in activities you find despicable.
Don’t let such things cloud your judgment. Instead, only take note of the facts about those people. Avoid including derogatory or inflammatory statements about such individuals. Your biased opinion about them may end up costing you and your client the case.
- Let facts rather than opinion guide you
- Remain professional throughout the investigation
7. Protect evidence
The courts are very particular about Evidence. That is why you should make a point of protecting any evidence you unearth. Video footage, e-mails, reports, and witness interviews can all form part of your Evidence.
You may also end up getting Evidence in the form of physical items such as a knife or some kind of a blunt object buried in the backyard. The key is to ensure that every form of Evidence you get is secure and free of any subsequent tampering.
- Gather as much evidence as you can
- Keep all Evidence safe
8. Maintain control of information
The last thing you want is to be a catalyst to the spread of rumors regarding your investigation. To be safe, ensure that you keep all information confidential. This will guard against any rumor-mongering.
Remember, if a subject or suspect gets an idea of what you have unearthed, they can easily come up with a cover-up and thus scuttle your progress. Sharing information with your friends, family, or even relatives may seem harmless but can end up coming back to haunt you.
- Keep all information in secure storage
- Avoid sharing information with other people
As a private investigator, you are able to help many people find closure, asset recovery, and even pinpoint criminals. Use the PI tips and tricks above to sharpen your skills and become more effective in what you do. Want to see how Tracers can help your private investigation firm? Get started today!