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Top 7 Myths About Being a Private Investigator

Many of the stereotypes that people have about private investigators come from the movies and novels. They aren’t based on fact, but on what makes for an entertaining movie or a suspenseful novel. Here are are some of the most common myths people have about what it’s like to be a PI:

  1. Being a PI is always exciting. They live a life of adventure. In reality, their days can be fairly monotonous. Most times surveillance involves a lot of waiting and PIs can spend a lot of time on paperwork, so their days aren’t all chock-full of action, drama and high-speed chases like they are in the movies.

  2. They have the same authority that the police have. Except for a few specific circumstances, PIs have the same law enforcement authority that civilians have – they must obey law and can’t trespass. They are able to make arrests, but only in the same capacity that the general public is able to make citizen arrests.

  3. They all drive fancy cars. In reality, driving flashy cars would only draw attention to the PI and compromise their anonymity.

  4. They are scoundrels, lack empathy and break laws on whim, doing whatever it takes to solve the case. In reality, PIs often understand the humanity in their work, what their clients are looking for and the effects their work can have on all involved parties. They can be very compassionate. Most PIs are ethical and recognize the importance of following laws so that their investigative work holds up under scrutiny in a court of law.

  5. PIs dress very mysteriously with mustaches, sunglasses and a trench coat. In reality, this type of attire would draw attention to the PI. The PI wants to blend in with their environment so they go undetected. This could involve wearing workout clothes at the gym or dress clothes at an upscale restaurant.

  6. They are able to access private government records. They have access to what the public has access to like public records, social networking sites, reverse directories, business directories, bankruptcy records, and provincial websites. Unlike the public, they are usually highly skilled at effectively using that information.

    PIs don’t have access to credit information, social insurance numbers, birth, death and marriage records, criminal backgrounds, and license information. These are considered restricted sources of information.

  7. It’s all about the good old fashioned “stakeout.” In reality, a PI’s most important skill set involves their ability to effectively use technology. Technical ability rules the roost.

    Skilled investigators can identify subjects with a click of the mouse. They are able to capitalize on the Internet to gain intelligence about their subject. They are adept at using equipment such as a covert video camera and video editing software. 

Photo Source: Flickr

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