Due to stereotypes perpetuated in the media, the truth about what private investigators really do is frequently misunderstood. Personal investigators don't have a free pass to document people they want, go wherever they need, or lookup anything they need.
As Private Investigators (also called Private Detectives), we have to make sure that everything we do is legal and above reproach. As we work cases, we always need to ensure our investigations have the appropriate paperwork such as licenses, warrants, and subpoenas.
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Without these, the evidence and data obtained could be considered unusable or worse, could lead to criminal charges for violation of law enforcement. Here are 2 big do's and don'ts a private investigator must follow:
Private Investigators are not permitted to record a phone conversation without consent from a minimum of one party, and in a number of states both parties must agree. In Australia we have to have both parties consent to record a phone call. While "tapping" a telephone is possible, it's also prohibited without a warrant and in most cases these types of warrants are only issued to law enforcement.
In contrast to popular belief, Private investigators do not have special access to government documents, private phone records and can't "hack" someone's personal computer.