RSS

Posts Tagged ‘professional private investigators’

The Highly Specialized Career of Professional Investigations

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Professional private investigations is a career that many people have a great deal of fascination about. Television and media have often depicted the private investigator as an individual who is a do-it-all, a James Bond type of figure willing to tackle and somehow successfully accomplish any type of mission, assignment, or adversity presented to the character.

In reality, professional investigators give a great deal of thought to what cases they are willing to accept. Effective and responsible investigators know that if a case is outside their area of expertise, there is a greater probability that the results of the case will not be optimal. If you are looking for an attorney to resolve a child custody matter, would you hire the attorney that specializes in bankruptcy law, immigration law, or criminal law? You will likely prefer to hire the attorney who specializes in family law, and maybe even more precisely, child custody matters.

Professional private investigators like, attorneys, have specialties of their own. When potential clients are considering whether to hire a private investigator, I will often advise them against hiring the do-it-all private investigator. The old saying, ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ certainly applies to investigations. A person who is considering hiring a private investigator should first identify what needs to be resolved or what information is being sought. The potential client can then begin looking for an investigator who specializes in obtaining the desired information or resolving the person’s matter. When contacting the investigator or investigative agency, do not hesitate to ask if they specialize in a certain area. Also, do not hesitate to ask how much experience they have in a certain area.

Advanced Professional Investigations is occasionally asked about companies that offer and provide professional services unrelated to investigations, and simultaneously have an in-house investigator or an investigations division. While it may seem tempting to go with the ‘one stop shop’ provider, the client should give consideration to a couple of important factors. First, is there a potential for the in-house investigator to have a bias, or could there be a perceived bias if the investigative findings are presented in a legal setting? Second, if investigation is one of many other professional services offered by a company, how much dedication/focus is the company giving to the investigations division of the company?

Advanced Professional Investigations, LLC is proud to be a fully independent, dedicated professional private investigations agency. What does this mean to our clients? API is able to maintain a direct, customer-focused line of communication with our clients. API obtains its information and documentation in a non-biased manner. API’s results always withstand the scrutiny of any perceived bias in a legal setting. Because API is dedicated to professional investigations, API’s investigators frequently attend conferences, courses, and training to keep on the forefront of investigations. API maintains the latest video recording equipment, with features that are designed specifically for professional investigators, not the general public. API was founded on, and continues to be focused on providing the highest quality results to our clients.

Do you have an investigative case request and you’re not sure who to turn to? Give API a call. Rest assured that if the case request is outside of our areas of specialty, we will let you know and will go the extra step of finding an investigator with the specialty you need.

Do It Yourself Investigations

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

The latest “fiscal cliff” highlighted just how tight today’s economy really is.  It’s no surprise that people are trying to cut back spending where they can, to include ‘do it yourself’ private investigations.

Here’s why that can end up costing you money, instead of cutting expenses:

1)  Professional private investigators know when to begin a corporate or private investigation.  By the time DIYers think about investigating, it’s almost too late.  If a private investigation is begun at the time the case is opened, there is a vast amount of information that can be gathered.  A DIYer may tip off the subject of the investigation without meaning to, and data under that subject’s control may disappear from view with a changing of privacy settings.  Conversely, if a DIYer begins their private investigation before filing a case, they may learn the hard way about harassment and stalking laws. This is especially true in the realm of surveillance investigations; once the subject of the surveillance is aware they are being watched, it is extremely difficult to obtain helpful data.

2)  Professional private investigators have access to information that the DIYers don’t.  Using the precept of “work smarter, not harder,” skilled private investigators can often pull up basic information on their databases that would take the normal “Googler” an entire day to locate.

3)  Professional private investigators know their way around an investigation.  Although TV and Movie dramas involving crimes, private detectives and intrigue are extremely popular, they don’t explain the steps or the process involved in a private investigation. It would be very easy to miss something in a DIY investigation, or damage your case without realizing it.

4)  Professional private investigators have effective documentation and well written reports at hand.  Why is this important?  If you’re in court and are asked to provide proof of your investigation, are you prepared to provide a professional report?  Will your documentation stand up in court and be entered into evidence?  Professional private investigators routinely provide evidence in a courtroom setting, and are experienced at working together with attorneys.

5)  Professional private investigators know the laws.  Trespassing, invasion of privacy, harassment, stalking…all of these laws are routinely overlooked by people that try to conduct their own private investigation to save money.  Instead, the infractions often cost them their case…and more.  Convictions are rising for people abusing GPS tracking devices; privacy laws regarding emails and social media posts are being scrutinized.  Professional private investigators know it is in their clients’ best interest to remain abreast of current laws, and to insure their work will stand up in court.

6)  Professional private investigators are licensed and carry insurance.  Insurance for private investigations?  Absolutely! 

Although engaging the services of a professional private investigator may seem like a luxury in the beginning, it will save you in time, money and worry.

Responsible Locate Investigations

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

As professional private investigators we receive many requests to locate individuals. Over the years I’ve received requests to locate old college roommates, adoptees looking for birth parents, witnesses, beneficiaries, war veterans looking to be reunited with their fellow servicemen and friends and family members that have lost touch with one another. Although it may give us a warm, fuzzy feeling to be part of a joyous reunion we should always keep in mind the possibility of a worse case scenario such as those unwilling to be found. In my experience, approximately 70% of individuals fall into this category. Our office’s policy is not to report information about such individuals without their permission. Two exceptions are attorney-requested witness locates and skip trace information – both of which have a legal basis for the relinquishing of information.

It’s the investigator’s duty to conduct these searches responsibly and keep in mind that there is a reason contact was lost and perhaps it was the choice of the person being sought. For example, adoptees may have a romantic idea of learning where they came from, envisioning a joyful, teary reunion, but the reality is that it may have been a traumatic event resulting in shame and secrets for the birth parent and might disrupt a current household and family. And your client may not be forthright with the entire truth, either. The man looking for his long lost son due to a bitter divorce may have actually been the abuser and unreported domestic violence was the reason they lost touch. The brother that says he wants nothing more than to be reunited with his sibling after 25 years, may be omitting that there were undisclosed psychological and physical assault issues that left that sibling afraid and forced him to go into hiding. These are all real life cases I’ve encountered over the years that repeatedly reinforce our policies. It is the private investigator’s responsibility to conduct due diligence on these, as on all cases. Ask for supporting documents. Is the person truly behind in child support? Is there a judgment or court case involved? Don’t just take your client’s word as gospel. The “truth” can be tricky and the perception of it may vary from that of another person in a story.

Let the other 30%, the subject being sought, give you that all-too rare career high in a business that is by nature serious and often cynical: the war veteran revisiting those he fought alongside; a parent being reunited with a kidnapped child; the high school sweethearts who lost touch for decades. There is a personal side to what we do.

Our ability as investigators to find people can make a difference in someone’s life. It’s critical to remember that it may be good or bad and could potentially create liability if not handled correctly.

This article was published in Pursuit Magazine at http://pursuitmag.com/responsible-locate-investigations-by-private-investigators/

Death of the Private Investigator

Monday, October 31st, 2011

For several months now, I’ve seen growing concerns from investigators across the United States regarding the direction of private investigations. These concerns have been raised perhaps as a result of the economy, privacy laws, and even national investigative agencies.

Let’s assume for a moment that those concerns are valid and the scope of the investigations work as we know it will soon be gone and will never be the same. Assume that the private investigator will even cease to exist, as many concerns have been expressed. Does that mean that society simply has no use for the services that investigators provide? Let’s examine the role of the private investigator.

At its core, the private investigator is an information locator and gatherer. The right type of information can be very valuable and powerful to the client. Information therefore is the key to the value a private investigator has to his/her client. However, most clients are becoming more demanding with the information they want. No longer is it enough to provide a client with information simply to satisfy the client’s curiosity. Most clients of the private investigator are looking for a PI because they need information for a current legal action, a pending legal action, or to minimize the possibility of a future legal action. Private investigators must make sure that the information they provide to their clients can withstand legal scrutiny if need be. The investigator who can obtain valuable legally and ethically obtained information will continue to be in demand regardless of outside factors driving the profession. We are, after all, in the information age.

So what should the private investigator do to not only survive, but perhaps thrive in the coming years and even decades? A good start is for us to change our mindset of who we all are. Rather than private investigators, we should look at ourselves as professional investigators, or professional private investigators. The private investigations field will continue to bring never-ending changes. Some changes will be better than others. Some changes should and will be challenged.  Today’s investigator must be willing to embrace the challenges of the changing scope of investigations. For the changes that are inevitable, the successful investigator must be willing to embrace or at the minimum adjust expeditiously to those as well.

Today’s successful investigator must be not only an investigative professional, but a business professional. Being well-versed in business and marketing practices is critical. Many clients, including the private clientele involved in domestic matters, are seeking out investigative firms with a more professional, corporate look and feel. Every facet of the investigator is scrutinized by the client, from the website to the equipment to the knowledge of laws. Even the style of dress is scrutinized. Clients are moving away from choosing investigators with websites containing scandalous, salacious photos of couples “caught in the act” or websites filled with assertions that the investigator is willing to “dig for dirt.” Investigators who maintain a professional demeanor will have a competitive advantage in today’s world.

So are we all witnessing the death of the private investigator? That is unlikely. Rather, I believe that private investigations will continue to evolve and is constantly progressing more and more towards a professional field. For those who already view and hold themselves as professionals, the evolution should be manageable and even welcoming.

Investigations Rules

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Unwritten Rules of Private Investigations

What do professional private investigators think about?  Here is a checklist for scrutinizing the investigative process:

The Private Investigator is an Extension of the Client.  Advanced Professional Investigations represents you, the client.  Whether it’s in the courtroom or in the field, we always remain aware of the fact that we are your representatives.  We dress professionally, behave accordingly, and never forget that our credibility stems from the way we present ourselves as your representatives in the aspect of investigations, from the beginning of the case to the end.

The Private Investigator must withstand legal scrutiny.  Legal scrutiny may come from at least three different areas:  the investigator themselves, the investigation process, and the evidence produced.

Investigator:  How well do you know your private investigator?  How well do you know their background?  Do they have anything in their past that may come up on the stand?  Restraining orders, stalking and harassment charges and convictions are just a start of what you should know about your investigator’s past history. Do they have a professional demeanor?  Believability and credibility in the eyes of the judge and jury are dramatically affected by the impression that an investigator creates on the stand.  Could your investigator pass this scrutiny?

Investigations:  The methods of investigating a case may come under intense scrutiny when brought to court.  Legal ramifications must always be at the forefront of a private investigator’s thought processes.  Does your investigator know the differences between surveillance and stalking?  Do they know Colorado’s statute regarding harassment?  Do they understand what ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ entails with regard to a surveillance or other private investigation?  Do they understand the pitfalls of GPS tracking devices and certain types of searches in social media? 

Evidence: In this case, evidence describes any documentation produced for a court case. Examples might be a word document, pdf, video or electronic communication.  Will the evidence stand up in court?  For instance, is there a date and time stamp on the video or photo?  Has any documentation been altered or edited?  Was the evidence obtained in a legal manner?

There are many other considerations that we as professional private investigators must take into account. Where does your investigator fit into the process?

Colorado Private Investigator Bill Update

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

After months of emails, networking, testifying, and lobbying, HB 1012 was postponed indefinitely on May 5, 2010. The vote was close: 4-3. HB10-1012 would have limited the use of legitimate sureillance for workers compensations claims in Colorado. Every year, legislation throws curveballs at the insurance industry. HB 1012 would have drastically impacted the ability of employers and insurance companies to conduct surveillance on suspected fraudulent or exaggerated worker’s compensation claims. This was also a critical bill among Colorado private investigators; had it passed, other states might have used it as a template to affect the way surveillance was used on worker’s compensation claims. HB 1012 did not die easily. It took a concentrated effort from everyone involved to bring about its defeat; from concerned business owners, attorneys, insurance claims adjusters and risk managers, to professional private investigators, lobbyists and various associations. Through enlightening letters, phone calls, assisting lobbyists, and even lining up at the Capitol to voice our concerns at the hearings, we all made this happen. API would like to extend a personal thank you to each and every person that took the time and effort to let the Colorado Legislature know your feelings on this matter. This outcome could have been disastrous for the industry- but for your participation. You all deserve a hearty, “Well done!”