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Areas of specialization as a Professional Private Investigator

Updated: Oct 3

As a follow-up to the last blog "Common Misconceptions" I thought it was important to expand on all the different file types that someone can specialize as a Private Investigator. Each one of these file types can be a single focus and discipline where the proficiency bar is still set at 5000 hrs.


Becoming a great investigator at all these file types or disciplines would take a lifetime, if possible. I would suggest that Investigators like Lawyers or Accountants, will specialize in a few of the following areas:

Surveillance is one of the most common services provided for Insurance Companies, Lawyers, Public & Private Corporations and Individuals. There are many reasons for the use of surveillance. If done correctly, surveillance can be a highly effective tool for clients, providing real-time information, data and evidence that otherwise is not obtainable through any other means.


The use of Undercover Operations is a lawful technique used in the detection and investigation of economic crime investigations, theft, fraud, embezzlement, corporate espionage and issues dealing with corporate and personal integrity.

Undercover Private Investigators will assume a covert identity for the purpose of gaining confidence and establishing evidence or information which would be unavailable otherwise.

Undercover Investigators will assimilate seamlessly and are assigned to various situational requirements, based on their various business experiences, ethnic, social and geographical backgrounds.


Undercover operatives with training in the field, are capable of working in many industries and occupations.


These file types are typically conducted from a desk, sometimes referred to as a "Desk Investigation" or "Cyber Investigation". (below)

Investigators will establish and provide legal, comprehensive, conclusive, documented information about both corporations and individuals. Based on the need and budget the following services and searches can be provided but are not limited too:

  • Civil history

  • Corporate & limited partnership searches

  • Credential verification  

  • Criminal history

  • Bankruptcies, liens & judgments search

  • Business license

  • Business name search

  • Drivers’ history

  • Education verification

  • Employment verification

  • Firearms search

  • VIN searches

  • Media searches

  • Multinational searches

  • Death Records searches

  • Officers/directors records searches

  • Personal reference verification searches

  • Phone - landline number searches

  • Professional license verification

  • Property ownership searches

  • Toll free number searches

  • Vehicle and vessel searches

The worth of a company, especially in certain markets is based largely upon its Intellectual Property (IP). With easy access to information these days and the increase of corporate espionage from internal and external standpoints, companies are increasingly vulnerable. Investigators work closely with legal counsel assisting them with obtaining enough evidence to reduce or eliminate the threat while standing up through the judicial process.


Companies invest heavily in Intellectual Property (IP) and if compromised, this could jeopardize their economic future. Investigators will utilize whatever legal means necessary to document, mitigate, and identify the people responsible while recovering any Intellectual Property.


These file types are typically conducted outside of the office, in the field. (below)

Integrity Audits: These files are conducted professionally, requiring highly skilled and experienced surveillance investigators. The Investigator is hired to check the integrity of one or more of a client's employees or vendors. These files can take on a variety of scenarios with slightly different needs or approaches.  The investigator interacts with an employee (video can be obtained and is recommended) creating an opportunity to test or observe the person's behavior or integrity. Following an audit, the client will receive a full accounting of all checks, along with a detailed report and video of all checks if authorized in advance.

TECHNICAL SURVEILLANCE COUNTERMEASURES (TSCM) - also known as a bug sweep, electronic bug or eaves detection for listening devices

There are certainly more services that many Investigation Firms have provided to their clients over the years, but I attempted to capture a majority of the file types that as an Industry are common.


Within many of these file types or services much can be written about and in many circumstances clients require several services for any given investigation, assignment or file.


Author: Sean Cote

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