5 Common Myths About Private Investigators

Primarily as a result of Hollywood storytelling, many common myths exist in popular culture regarding private investigators. Ask the average person how they imagine a private investigator. They will likely envision a captivating, rather dangerous figure cloaked in mystery who acts above the law to seek justice for their clients, hacking into private accounts, recording conversations, and arresting criminals for deviant behavior. While private investigators do possess a variety of valuable skills for clandestine information gathering, this stereotypical image does not represent most private investigators' actual daily lives.

If you are considering hiring a private investigator to launch an investigation on your behalf, call our office as soon as possible. We can help separate the common misconceptions myths from reality.

The Top Five Most Common Myths We Hear About Private Investigators

    1. Myth: Private investigators are above the law.Truth: Probably the most prevalent misconception about private investigators, many people believe that these professionals can operate around the laws that govern ordinary citizens. Unlike a police officer or a government agent with organizations like the FBI or CIA, PIs do not hold any legal authority. They are expected to obey the law while obtaining information. This means they are not allowed to impersonate, threaten, or assault people or trespass on private property in an attempt to uncover clues or evidence. While a private investigator does often enjoy access to resources not available to most people, they can only gather information through legal methods and with the consent of the parties involved.
    2. Myth: Private investigators can arrest people.Truth: Even if a private investigator finds incriminating evidence that suggests a person is guilty of a crime or directly witnesses them engaging in illegal activity, they do not have the legal authority to detain and arrest people. They may provide important information to law enforcement entities and often do collaborate with these agencies in criminal investigations, but their mission is to gather information, not carry out justice. Private investigations must avoid making assumptions about someone’s guilt or innocence to perform their jobs effectively.
    3. Myth: Private investigators can access an individual’s private information.Truth: A private investigator does not have the type of clearance that a police officer or government agent holds that allows for access to confidential information. When attempting to locate a witness or find evidence in their investigation, a PI will use publicly available information. Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), many records can be accessed by members of the public by simply submitting a formal request. This includes incarceration records, licenses, driving records, or personnel files of government employees. While this information is accessible to everyone, a PI has the training, knowledge, and skills to carefully scrutinize this material in a way that an ordinary citizen cannot.
    4. Myth: Private investigators can record conversations and wiretap phones.Truth: While this is a frequent element of film and television portrayals, private investigators are not legally allowed to record private conversations without a person’s consent or to wiretap a phone. A PI cannot “bug” a person, a communication device, or an area to hear conversations they should not be privy to. Instead, investigators initiate conversations directly with individuals they are interested in and take notes during these meetings to keep track of important details.
    5. Myth: Private investigators are only hired to catch dangerous criminals and unfaithful spouses.Truth: Clients hire private investigators for several different reasons, not just for locating especially dangerous criminals or finding evidence of marital infidelity. Investigative work encompasses a wide range of fields, including conducting surveillance on individuals suspected of insurance or worker’s compensation fraud, performing pre-employment background checks, locating missing persons, settling copyright infringement cases, and completing other investigative tasks for personal or business purposes.

Do You Need a Private Investigator (PI)?

If you believe you would benefit from the services of a private investigator, contact Amatrix Investigations today by calling (213) 342-1767 or filling out the form on our website. President and Private Investigator Christina Duran has more than 20 years of experience investigating California's most sensitive and high-profile cases. She maintains the highest standards of professional excellence in her field. She supervises a skilled, dedicated team of experts closely familiar with all aspects of criminal investigations, law enforcement, and corporate security.

Amatrix Investigations provides top-quality private investigation services to clients throughout Southern California, including residents of Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Murrieta Area, Palm Springs and San Diego County. Call us or contact us online today to discuss how we can help you uncover the truth.