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When Should You Hire a Private Investigator? The Situations Explained

James Smith

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Private Investigator

Though overblown in the imaginations of television and pulp writers, private investigators perform vital services for clients. The industry has diversified over the past century but still centers around uncovering information.

For those with secrets to hide, facts to expose, and worries to quell, the PI is a welcome asset. When should you hire a private investigator? When you need to know something that isn’t easy to uncover.

The range of services PIs offer makes it a bit difficult to decide that they are for you. Basically, they offer more detailed, boutique services than the public police force and they help with civil matters before or after they become criminal.

Hire a Private Investigator

Information has power.

As a core concept, this is fairly obvious. What you might not realize is that because information has power, it creates structures around it.

What you know is important and what you don’t know is also important. One thing that is becoming increasingly prominent in today’s society is that what you don’t know you don’t know has power.

Private investigators close up these gaps and empower those that otherwise would be at the mercy of another party.

Disputed Child Custody

Two things fall under the realm of custody disputes: child care payments and child welfare.

More than a few parents have been found to use funds earmarked for child education and wellbeing and spent them on personal projects and items.

When the safety and wellbeing of a child are in question, it can be difficult for a parent to gain access or to prove malfeasance. Tale-tale signs of abuse might be obvious to a parent but disregarded by courts.

In these instances, a private investigator steps in and finds the evidence a court needs to change custody agreements and find a more suitable home for a child.

Locating Missing Persons

In the worst cases of child custody disputes, one parent will abduct the child and hide them away or run with them.

Finding missing persons is a difficult job and one that most local police forces are ill-equipped to handle. They foist such jobs off onto the FBI, who lacks the resources and will to make these cases a top priority.

In 2019 alone 87,000 missing person cases were reported by the FBI.

A missing person isn’t always a person gone without a trace or taken away in the cover of darkness. Some missing persons are trying to stay missing. This may be a person with a debt, a parent dodging child support, or someone paranoid and off their medication.

Private investigators specialize in how to find a missing person by knowing more about the web of information everyone leaves in their wake.

Digital Forensics

The Internet created a whole new realm for private investigators to ply their trade. The Internet contains a vast amount of information but it also contains information that some would rather see gone.

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PIs work to uncover information on others and to better cover information for those that request it.

Digital information isn’t captured just online. This includes information generated from phone calls, texts, and numerous photos lurking on half-forgotten hard drives and Usenet servers.

Fraud

Anyone who owns a business worries about fraud. Offering a product or service is difficult enough without ne’er-do-wells looking to make a quick buck.

Fraud investigations work to find evidence that someone planned a complaint beforehand. They also uncover evidence that a claimed injury doesn’t exist.

Internally, fraud investigations look for missing property and into the lives of employees that may have moved around products or funds for their own ends.

Forensic bookkeeping looks for patterns in accounts that expose embezzlement and money laundering.

Background Investigation

To better head-off incidents of internal and employee fraud, background checks are important.

Private investigators look into the past several years of a potential subject and find places where their official story and their real lives differ. Do they have unreported criminal records, were they fired for theft?

Background investigations are also performed on potential mates. Another byproduct of the Internet is the ease and proliferation of catfishing.

It pays to have a private investigator look into the person met online and confirm if their story adds up. It’s far easier to walk away early.

It’s a lot less cost to hire a private investigator than to wind up losing a child or inheritance to some calculating would-be-spouse.

Infidelity

Even when a potential spouse checks out beforehand, issues sometimes spring up after the fact.

The least glamorous, but probably most visceral, work that PIs do involves checking for infidelity in spouses, business partners, and fiances.

These suspicions are hard to dismiss and can unravel even a strong and above-board relationship. Private investigators handle these delicate matters with decorum and confidentiality.

There’s no reason to spook a person into faking faithfulness and theirs no reason to let them know of suspicions if it turns out they’re not up to anything.

Hard evidence gathering is tough but necessary to ensure asset splits and to avoid issues with contract and estate laws.

Counter Surveillance

Finally, you might look into hiring private investigator services if running a big business or a promising start-up.

Though illegal, corporate espionage is alive and well in the corporate world. When a company holds information that gives them an advantage in an industry, other companies will be looking to get at it.

Counter surveillance looks for signs that someone is looking too closely for flaws in security or trying to slide a new-hire under the radar. It also includes services like bug sweeps and information sanitation online.

The biggest leak in any business is employees. Even if you don’t suspect an active breach, hiring a PI to instruct employees on spotting and avoiding phishing schemes is worthwhile.

Investigate Your World

These represent the most common scenarios in which you would hire a private investigator. This is by no means an exhaustive list but provides insight into what the PI field does and why it is important today.

For more information about the world around you and tips and ideas like this, check in with us again.

James Smith is the writer for Munchkin Press. He is a young American writer from California and is currently traveling around the world. He has a passion for helping people and motivates others.

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