So here you are. You’ve been suspicious for some time, and now the signs are too obvious for you to deny – you believe you are the target of a private investigator. What can you do? Is there any way for you to stop the suspected investigation?
Well, first things first: do not get ahead of yourself. If you seriously believe that you’re under private investigation, then right away you should rack your memory to check whether you have committed, been witness to, or played a hand in any event (or events) that would justify such an investigation to be carried out on you. It is very rare for such heightened concern and distrust to rise in someone without their having been involved in something that would directly warrant said suspicions. Then again, it is entirely normal for someone to have a small bout of paranoia for relatively insignificant/harmless reasons. It is up to you to objectively decide – keep in mind it’s not cheap to hire a private investigator, so gauge whether whatever you have done (or are doing) would realistically be worth someone paying a PI to target you over.**
In other words, be honest and realistic with yourself. If you’ve done something serious enough to justify your being investigated (and you’re not just being paranoid because someone might have seen you steal that extra grape in the supermarket), then read on to find out what can be done from your end during such an investigation.
The most important information for you to know is:
- What are your rights in this situation?
- What can the private investigator do? (or rather, how paranoid about wire-taps and GPS-tracking should you be?)
Understanding these points will help you figure out what you can do to possibly protect important personal information. Most importantly, this knowledge will also help maintain that vital sense of “freedom” in your own life during such an invasive examination being carried out on it – no one likes to feel totally helpless when having their personal life invaded without consent.
To answer both these questions, let’s make one thing clear – a private investigator is bound by federal law just as you and all US citizens are, i.e. they can not do anything illegal. Trespassing or breaking and entering is one such example of an illegal act. But don’t be too relieved by this, since there are many methods and practices PIs regularly use to obtain desired information about someone, that are seen as highly “unethical” – but technically not illegal. For example, to bypass the illegalities of trespassing, most PIs will carry out dedicated and well-trained surveillance of a target from a public place. In most parts of the country such surveillance is legal, with many PIs choosing to make the police aware of their presence.
The term “pretexting” pertains to the act of a PI using a disguise or fake identification to obtain information from their target. This is a big fuzzy area as far as legalities go. For many cases this is seen as highly unethical, but when the end result is the discovery of incriminating information that leads to the target’s arrest, then the pretexting was ‘worth it’. There is undoubtably a limit with pretexting, though. For example, it is illegal in the US for anyone to use pretexts to get access to another person’s telephone records or financial account details. Likewise, in the majority of countries worldwide it is illegal to impersonate a law-enforcement official or an employee of the government.
For further information on the legal-yet-unethical methods used by private investigators, check out http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Private-detectives-and-investigators.htm#tab-2.
So, armed with the knowledge of exactly how far PIs go when investigating a target, you already have a much better understanding on what to look out for during your day-to-day activities while under investigation. There is very little you can do to stop an investigation, however, here are some common-sense takeaways for you to consider, depending on your circumstances:
This is a guest post from contributing author Charlie Oszvald. Charlie is writing for Beacon Investigative Solutions, a private investigation agency present in 45 states in the US, with multiple offices in Ohio (Cincinnati private investigator office), Alabama, Kentucky and more.