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What is a Private Investigator?

There are many misconceptions of what a private investigator is and is not.  A private investigator is an information gatherer.  We collect information for our clients so they can make informed decisions based on the information obtained. We have access to the same tools as anyone else except we know where to get the information from.  There are special services and privileges that private investigators have due to the nature of our job but there are only a few.

What a Private Investigator is not.

A private investigator is not law enforcement.  We do not have special arrest powers and we are not above the law.  There are laws that govern our industry and there are laws that they protect the general public from those that take investigations too far.  We are responsible for the information we locate and ethical in how we obtain that information.

The articles listed below are a few of the more popular and relevant articles and podcast episodes that you should read and her if pursuing a private investigation career.  Being a private investigator is more than a job or career, it’s a lifestyle as well.  

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  1. I’m just starting out as a private investigator and I purchased the Nikon D5300 camera which shoots photos and video. It wasn’t until after I purchased it that I learned that the camera only records for 20 minutes at a time and there’s no date/time stamp for the video, only photos. Will this suffice? I hope so because it was an expensive camera. Thanks.

    • You can still pull time stamps from video but I would not use that as primary video camera. No photos will not be good enough for surveillance. No one has ever just asked me to take pictures on a surveillance. There is too much information and activity that will be missed. When shooting video do you have auto focus with the camera? I highly recommend using that camera for photos only (not on surveillance) and picking up a camcorder for $150 to $200.

    • No, that will not suffice. You must have the date/time stamp on your video. Use vATS. It’s user friendly and cheap and there’s a tutorial on Youtube.

  2. I have started a second job with a law firm as an Investigator looking for former employee of companies that we have an action against. Most of the time I have a name and where they work and that’s all. I do google and facebook searches and I find some people are there better database or way to find these people?

    • If you are a licensed investigator you can sign onto database providers like Tracers, IRB Search and TLO to get the most recently reported addresses and associates/family members of individuals you are looking for. Companies should have a file with an application with contact information though to help you get started.


    • John Edgar Lacher

      idiCore located in Boca Raton, Florida is another provider you might consider. My contact is Lou Nolfo. His direct line is 561-757-4024. Tell him I referred you.

  3. This is a great post and its article. Blogger must continue his sharing to those who need so much.

    Forensic Detective
    Delhi, India

  4. John Edgar Lacher

    Database brokers (providers) is a must have for anyone in the investigative field whether you are a law enforcement officer, investigative reporter, or licensed private investigator. I use several different providers because not all of them have information I need in my business. Often times providers will have data that is incorrect, outdated or simply do not have the data you need. The monthly expense can be a bit overwhelming but the time will come when you’ll wish you did have them.

  5. What’s the best and USER FRIENDLY video editing software.

    Thanks Matt

    • If you have an older version of Windows you can use Microsoft Movie Maker. If not, I have used Camtasia for the past 5 years for not only compiling my videos but making videos for PI ADVICE. Here is the Amazon affiliate link if you are interested.

  6. Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this question but I had a hard time finding anywhere else to ask questions. I’ve been in the security field for about 2 years and have quickly gotten to the supervisor position. My question is, do you think this is a valid form of experience to transition to the private investigator field? I am also in the process of earning a private investigator certificate through an online school. Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Kevin,

      Anywhere is fine to ask a question. In regards to being a valid form of experience, I am not sure what you are asking. If you are asking whether security experience will count for a credit towards being a private investigator in regards to licensing…probably not but check in whatever state you live in. If you are wondering whether it looks good on a resume when applying for companies, I would say it doesn’t look bad. People come from many occupations including security to the private investigation occupation. Some people have a security/investigation business. G4S has a private investigation side and a security side. As for the online school, what school are you taking your course through? Hope this helps. Andrew

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