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Common Misconceptions About the Private Investigation Industry

Updated: May 25


With over 22 years as a Private Investigator, you learn that there are many misconceptions about being a Private Investigator and the many services we are hired to conduct.


The investigations industry is highly specialized and generally misunderstood. Here are some of the most common misconceptions.

  1. Investigators mostly work on infidelity/matrimonial/domestic assignments or, as the general public might refer to them, cheating husbands/wives’ cases.

  2. Private Investigators are granted special powers or rights by government.

  3. Many people think that they would make a “Great Private Investigator” or that it's Easy to be a Private Investigator.

Addressing #1.


The most common clients for Investigation companies are Insurance companies, Law firms and Private corporations. Many of the investigations conducted for these clients involve the potential of fraud. Others seeks to obtain more detailed information in order to adjudicate, adjust or manage a claim.


Infidelity Investigations in general would make-up less than 10% of all the file types that most PI firms are regularly providing.


Addressing #2


The misconception that private investigators are granted extra provincial, state, or legislative powers; however, this is not entirely accurate.


A experienced licensed investigator has developed more tools than the general public and is more skilled through their experiences and aware of how best to leverage those tools.


Furthermore, in some jurisdictions, PI's legally have the right to conduct an investigation or surveillance. As an example PI's are legally able to conduct surveillance in public places vs. someone without a PI license conducting surveillance might be labeled a "stalker".


Investigators have legal means and methodologies that make them effective. In contrast, the police have access to vastly more verifiable information, such as nationwide databases only accessible by law enforcement. Much of the time for most investigations is spent in establishing or verifying information.


Addressing #3


It's easy to become a private investigator.


This misconception is fueled by television shows, as well as people’s overestimation of their own abilities and lack of awareness about the PI profession.

Good investigators have years of experience that have honed their skills. An average person might be able to follow someone once or twice. They definitely could not follow someone all day every day without being detected or observed. An average person might be able to find one key piece of information on an individual’s social media account.


An accomplished Investigator will find 100% of all key information and be able to do this with many different social media accounts. Even the most intelligent person cannot enter this industry and expect to consistently deliver meaningful results in the beginning.


Anyone who wants to be successful as an investigator must consider it to be a profession, not simply a job.


In a profession, people continually increase their knowledge and skills, and this is especially true for dedicated private investigators.


The world of technology is changing daily. An investigator, will need to adapt and keep-up with the use and effects of technology. Social media has evolved and will continue to do so.

While technological skill is important, it cannot replace learning to think like an investigator. Becoming a Good or Great Private Investigator will take years, with every file type being its own discipline, where the bar or proficiency is set at 5000 hrs. So if you want to be good or great at anything 10,000 hrs or more isn't just a number its "experience".


POSSESSING TOOLS TO BUILD A HOUSE, DOESN’T MAKE YOU A HOUSE BUILDER.


Author: Sean Cote



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