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Private Investigators and Detectives

Services Provided by Private Investigators

Private detectives and investigators employ various methods to decide the facts in numerous situations. Different kinds of searches and surveillance are used in investigation procedures. Facts, including the income or place of work of a person, are confirmed by trips to the person's workplace or by phone calls. Personal interviews are used to collect information in cases that include background checks and missing persons. Private detectives and investigators provide businesses, attorneys, and the public with various personal, financial, and legal help.


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A wide variety of services are offered by private detectives and investigators. Services include individual background profiles; pre-employment verification; and corporate, celebrity, and executive protection. Often, they are paid to confirm or refute infidelity or to investigate certain individuals. They frequently give aid in child protection and custody cases, personal injury and civil liability cases, premarital screening, and insurance fraud and claims.

The majority of detectives and investigators have received training in physical surveillance. This type of surveillance is usually spent watching a specific site from an unobtrusive location, usually inside a vehicle. Evidence is retrieved through the use of cell phones, computer database searches, binoculars, and video and still cameras. Through using computers, information including prior arrests, telephone numbers, convictions, motor vehicle registrations, civil legal judgments, and club and association memberships can be retrieved.

Specific clients determine the responsibilities of private detectives and investigators. The long-term secret observation of individuals may be necessary if working on a case concerning workers' fraudulent compensation claims. The investigator takes pictures or video of the worker completing activities that would disagree with injuries listed in a workers' compensation claim; the client would then be informed.

Private detectives and investigators commonly work in areas of specialty. Those who specialize in developing asset searches and financial profiles gather information through research of public documents, interviews, surveillance, and investigation. Investigators specializing in intellectual property theft give intelligence reports for civil action and prosecution, investigate and record piracy acts, and assist clients in stopping the illegal activity. Legal investigators are typically hired by lawyers or law firms to work on court cases. They often help interview potential witnesses and police, find witnesses, arrange criminal defenses, collect and review evidence, and serve legal documents. Other tasks performed by legal investigators include testifying in court, compiling information on parties to the litigation, gathering evidence and reports for trials, and taking photographs.

Corporate investigators are employed by various corporations or investigative firms to carry out external and internal investigations. External investigations are often held to protect a corporation from outside criminal activity including theft of business property from counterfeit billing of goods by suppliers. Internal investigations are conducted within the workplace to locate drug use, expense account violations, and the theft of information or products by employees.

Financial investigators are often employed to create financial confidential profiles of companies or individuals who may be currently involved in large financial transactions. These investigators are usually Certified Public Accountants, or CPAs, that work directly with accountants and investment bankers. They investigate possible assets existing in attempt to recover the damages awarded in theft or fraud cases by a court.

Store detectives, or loss prevention agents, protect the assets of retail stores by detaining those caught trying to steal products or damaging store goods. They work to prevent theft by delivery personnel, shoplifters, store employees, and vendor representatives. Inspections of dressing rooms, stock areas, and restrooms are conducted occasionally. Sometimes these detectives also help in either opening or closing the store. Reports of security and loss prevention are also prepared by detectives for management. They also testify in court against individuals they detained. Hotel detectives help maintain safety in hotels bars and restaurants and protect the guests and facility from theft. They also ward off unwanted people, such as known thefts, from the hotel.

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