Common Myths and Misconceptions About Private Investigators

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Private Investigators

When most people think about private investigators, a TV archetype of the vigilante investigator often comes to mind. What they don’t realize is there are many laws and limitations to the type of information private investigators have access to. Expert private investigators can obtain the maximum amount of information but only within the boundaries of ethics and the law.

Lone Vigilante

The media often portrays private investigators as self-employed renegade constantly in the line of danger. In reality, this is quite far from the truth. First, only about a fifth of private investigators is self-employed while most work for investigation firms or are employed directly by banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, etc. Also, many private investigators do most of their work within an office. Some fields of private investigation are more dangerous than others, but the stereotype of cowboy private investigators is far from a reality.


Banking and Financial Records

Discovering banking and financial records is an important part of private investigations. However, obtaining this information is not as easy as you might think. There is no universal registry of bank accounts in the US and discovering hidden accounts is not easy. This can make finding out where certain accounts are difficult.  

A skilled investigator can link identities to a bank account through techniques like interviews and public records searches. However, the information specific to that account must be obtained through a court order. Private investigators also face strict penalties for obtaining information through a false pretext or deceit. This means investigators can find out where the money is but it is up to you and the courts to find out the details.

Telephone Records

Movies and television often show private investigators bugging phone lines in order to get information. This is highly unusual as it is quite illegal and unethical. Several state and federal laws restrict third party access to telephone records. Private investigators can only discover the carrier for a particular phone number or individual, but not the actual phone records. It is up to the courts to uncover that information.

Credit Information

The federal government created several restrictions on the information a third party can obtain about an individual’s credit. The Fair Credit Reporting Act restricts how a third party is able to obtain credit information, and also requires third parties to notify the individuals being investigated. This allows jobs, banks, and renters to check your credit with consent but prevents private investigators from uncovering the information secretly.

Nationwide Criminal Records

The National Criminal Information Center database allows law enforcement agencies and authorized criminal justice organizations to search an individual’s background for criminal activity. Private investigators do not have access to this database and must use public means of doing criminal background checks. This means cases that were expunged or dropped are unavailable to private investigators, and such information must be obtained through legal means.  

Comprehensive Profiles

There is actually an entire market devoted to this private investigation myth. On the web, you will likely come across several advertisements claiming to offer complete background checks. These claims are exaggerated, as most of the databases pull information from public sources which can have incomplete for incorrect information.


These sites also miss out on public records that haven’t made it through the legal system yet. This is why it is important to hire professional private investigators to get a complete individual profile. They will obtain all of the information available by legal means and carefully check for inaccurate reports.

Expert Private Investigators

Since obtaining private information is so complicated, you will need an expert private investigator to discover everything you can. South and Associates works within the law to obtain all available information in order to assist in legal or personal discovery. Their wide array of services includes everything from individual investigation to extensive training programs. For the very best in private investigations, contact us today.

By | 2018-03-26T18:52:41+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Investigations|0 Comments

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