Ever wondered what Private Investigators do and how they do it? Thinking about hiring a Private Investigator for personal or business reasons? Then you’ve come to the right place! Below, we answer your most pressing questions about the industry and how a Private Investigator can help you and your business.
What Do Private Investigators Do?
The shortest way to describe what Private Investigators do is: “We get answers.” If you need information about something, we can get it for you. The most common things we investigate are:
- Cheating spouses: Is there cheating happening? When and where, and with whom?
- Insurance fraud: Is someone claiming disability falsely? Is your employee on long-term leave actually well enough to return to work?
- Employee fraud or theft: Is one of your staff stealing from you? When and how are they doing it?
- Background checks: Is a potential hire really who they claim to be? Can you trust your ex’s new partner around your children? Is the person you met online catfishing you? Is your prospective business partner solvent?
- Missing persons, skip tracing, and process serving: Where is the creditor who still owes you thousands of dollars? Is there a way to find the loved one who disappeared a year ago? Do you need to serve someone with legal documents?
- Asset searches: Does your soon-to-be ex have assets they haven’t told you about, such as an investment property or a business they own? Could this put you in a better position with your divorce settlement?
- Surveillance: Is your employee doing the work they claim they’re doing when you’re not around to supervise? Is your ex taking your child to places you didn’t approve? Do you need photographic evidence of malfeasance or bad behaviour that will stand up in court?
- Counter-surveillance: Do you suspect someone is watching you or following you? Do you think there may be bugs or other surveillance devices in your workplace, home, or vehicle?
- Child custody and child welfare: Does your ex take proper care of your child while in their custody? Is there reason to believe your children are in danger when they’re with your ex? Do you need evidence of their parenting habits that can be used in court?
- Undercover boss or secret shopper investigations: Do your employees follow the guidelines you set for them? Are there any gaps in your operations or your customer service protocols? A Private Investigator can go undercover as a client of your business to identify anything that should be amended or improved.
What Do Private Investigators Not Do?
Private Investigators are prohibited from presenting themselves as police officers and using language that suggests they have law enforcement authority of any kind.
They must also follow the privacy laws at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels, such as the rights to privacy established by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Criminal Code of Canada, and the Ontario Trespass to Property Act. These laws forbid activities such as entering a private residence, wiretapping phones, or photographing people in settings where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Experienced investigators are well-versed in these regulations.
What Tools and Equipment Do Private Investigators Use?
A private investigator might use video or photographic equipment with telephoto lenses, GPS devices and trackers, professional-quality binoculars, and a good old notebook and pen.
Although Private Investigators spend a great deal of their time in the field, the Internet is one of the most important tools they use. A Private Investigator will use public and private databases in their search for facts, as well as proprietary databases, freedom of information requests, and social media.
Because laws are always being updated, Private Investigators must ensure that they stay current with the rules, regulations, and codes of conduct that apply to their profession.
Are Private Investigators Trained and Licensed?
Yes, and yes. In Ontario, the industry is regulated by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) and their Private Security and Investigative Services Branch (PSISB) via the legal framework of the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005.
Private Investigators undergo training and testing by providers authorized by the MCSCS. After successfully completing the testing, they can apply for a license through Service Ontario. To qualify for a license, they must be at least 18 and have a clean criminal record. Private Investigators are required to carry their license whenever they’re working and they must show it to anyone who asks, including members of the public.
Are Private Investigations Confidential?
Yes! Your identity and personal information will always be protected by your Private Investigations professional. Beyond the privacy laws and industry codes of conduct that forbid disclosing client information, a good Private Investigations Agency makes their clients’ safety and confidentiality an absolute priority.
How Much Do Private Investigations Services Cost?
This depends on the specifics of your case: what type of work the agency is doing for you, how long it takes, and what kinds of resources the Private Investigator has to use. Some investigations services are offered for a flat fee, while others will require an up-front retainer and reimbursement for expenses such as travel and phone calls. The best way to estimate how much it will cost is to talk to them and get a breakdown of their fees.
How Do I Choose a Private Investigations Agency?
Start by doing some investigating of your own:
- Make a list of reputable firms that have a track record of success and enough experience to have established an efficient operation. Check their agency license status to ensure they’re in compliance.
- Contact each company for a free consultation. This will give you a sense of how each one approaches their clients’ situations.
- Ask for their pricing details, but don’t use that as your sole criterion for choosing an agency.
- Go with your gut and eliminate any candidates that don’t make you feel secure and valued.
At Star Quality Private Investigations®, our clients are our top priority. We understand that you need answers to your questions quickly, and we are dedicated to finding them for you. We know that many of our clients are dealing with distressing situations: we treat each one with the compassion and attention it deserves. With our 20+ years of results-driven success in the industry, you can rely on us to use our expertise, experience, equipment, and technology to resolve your case effectively and efficiently.
Contact us now to talk about your case. There’s an Investigations Expert available 24/7 to answer whatever questions you have.