Myths and Misconceptions About Private Investigators
Posted on 16th July 2021 at 11:27
PI’s or private investigators are experts in collecting information about individuals and entities that may later be used in legal cases. They have an array of unique skills that help them to identify and collate critical information that the average person will not be able to do. Many TV shows and movies featuring them and their craft has led to numerous misconceptions and myths about their activities. Some of the more common myths that are related to private investigators include the following:
Tapping phone calls is easy for them: Listening in on phone calls is another myth that has been perpetuated by movies and television. There are strict laws in different states and counties and only those with legal permission like law officials can access or get phone calls tapped.
They know how to bypass the legal system: A major misconception is that PI’s are adept at bypassing the law. On the contrary, they have to stick to legal guidelines during any investigation. Any evidence they gather for use in court must be legal.
They can access all kinds of information: Unlike what is thought that they can get hold of non-public information, they do not have access to information used by law enforcement agencies. They use information in the public domain successfully, sifting for data diligently. Since they are in touch with law enforcement officials, they are better able to use the available public information.
Easily access bank accounts: While they can ferret out hidden bank accounts and other assets, they are not able to access any individual’s bank account. They are only able to locate not gain access to bank accounts.
Can check anyone’s credit history: With the promulgation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is almost impossible to gain information about any person’s credit history. Special permission is required to gain any kind of access. In addition, every time any information is sought about anyone’s credit history the individual is informed. Without the concerned individual’s consent, it is not possible.
They are at par with the police: Unlike the police, they are not authorised to make any types of arrests. They cannot check licence plates against a database and do not have any access to any kind of police records. While both conduct enquiries, they do not carry the legal authority that police officers are entitled to.
Have the prerogative to record conversations: Another common myth perpetuated by Hollywood movies is having the PI speak with suspects and surreptitiously recording the conversation, which will lead to the arrest of the suspect. However, it is illegal by law in most counties and states to record any conversation without the knowledge of the individual. The recorded information cannot be used in a court of law as evidence if obtained without the consent of the individual. Instead, PI’s carefully extract information and make thorough notes of what they discuss.
While the image of a PI may appear very glamorous and make them appear larger than life when investigating cases in movies and television, the fact is most of it is over-glorified and meant only to entertain audiences.
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