Private investigators do more than snap pictures of unfaithful spouses. Though some assignments may warrant a camera, some call for carrying a gun, and others only require a sharp eye and problem-solving skills. Private detectives' client lists can be diverse, which creates the opportunity to take on different types of assignments. Some investigators view that as one of the occupation's main attractions.
Plugging Legal Holes
Missing information can destroy a criminal or civil court case. Some attorneys try to avoid that by hiring private investigators who help them prepare for trial. The investigators gather evidence, such as photos or video surveillance that's relevant to a case. They verify facts, research public records and gather witness statements. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some investigators even locate witnesses and serve legal documents.
Preventing Insurance Shakedowns
When there's a fire, if the burned building is insured, you'll probably find investigators at the scene, combing for clues or knocking on neighbors’ doors. Insurance companies try to crack down on arson-related fraud, so they hire liable investigators to determine the causes and liabilities of the fires. Insurance fraud can be very costly. The problem isn't limited to one area, and arson isn't the only way people try to rip off insurance companies. Private investigators are assigned to assess a variety of claims, including those involving auto accidents and workers' compensation.
Dabbling in Politics
Political campaigns employ private investigators to dig into the lives of opposing politicians. The investigators may try to uncover any dirt that will damage an opponent's reputation. Sometimes they try to counter statements made by their clients' opponents, such as claims about educational background or heroic military service. But sometimes, investigators are hired to investigate their own clients. Self-investigation allows politicians to anticipate and prepare for attempts to smear their reputations.
Celebrities, professional athletes and other corporate executives hire private investigators for asset protection services when they're concerned about theft. They also hire investigators for executive protection services when they're concerned about getting hurt or killed. According to private investigator Chuck Cooper, gigs in these categories usually entail providing around-the-clock protection to a client, the client's family or a specific item of interest.
In a Store Near You
Retailers hire private investigators for loss prevention services. Sometimes a retailer may only want an investigator to outline potential risks. Then, the company can increase security in those areas. But in many cases, investigators are looking for specific culprits. They pose as workers or shoppers and determine whether the problem is employee theft or shoplifting.
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Private Detectives and Investigators:What Private Detectives and Investigators Do
- MLive: Private investigators, Insurance Companies Taking up Hunt for Arsonists
- Fox News: Politicians Use Private Investigators To Unearth Their Own Skeleton
- News-Leader: Private Eye for Hire
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images