The Drawbacks of Being a Private Investigator

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The Drawbacks of Being a Private Investigator

There are many things I like about being a professional private investigator. I like solving mysteries, putting the puzzle pieces together, helping people when they have a real need in their life, the thrill of finding THE answer, meeting new people, working with other professionals, learning new things… the list goes on. However, there are also drawbacks of being a private investigator.

One of the biggest problems that just about every private investigator I know encounters is the perception that we can and will do anything to “get the job done.” I always try to explain to clients from the first discussion that I am a professional. I hold a professional license from the State of Texas, I have legal standards, as well as ethical standards, that I must uphold. I belong to professional organizations that have their own code of ethics that I am obligated to uphold. In other words, I follow the law. People who break the law are criminals. A private investigator is not immune from the law. There are a few situations where PI’s are viewed a little differently by the law (such as when conducting surveillance we would not be viewed as a stalker like a private citizen might), but overall we are following the same laws as anyone else.

Private investigators certainly have our share of fictionalized television and movie characters that have created a stereotype of what people often expect PI’s to do. Among things I won’t do: I don’t rifle through someone’s mail, break into their house and plant a bug or go through the filing cabinet, arrest people, plant a GPS tracker on someone’s car illegally, walk into a bank pretending to be someone else to find out their bank balances or look into their safety deposit box, hack into a computer that has been “borrowed” from someone, or take a baseball bat to someone’s car.  You see, these things are all illegal. These actions are just as illegal for me to do as they are for anyone else. These are crimes.

We don’t all carry a gun, break the law, or drive Ferrari’s. Breaking the law could cost me my professional license, my company, lots of money, and possible time in jail. No thank you. In Texas, private investigators don’t receive any special dispensation to carry a weapon. If I want to carry a concealed weapon, I have to have a concealed carry permit, like any other resident of the state. If our company wants to provide executive/personal protection, we need additional training & certification in addition to our company license. All I need in order to drive a Ferrari is a spare $200,000 laying around. Well, maybe next year!

There are certainly plenty of investigators that will do questionable, shady (a nice way of saying illegal), or stupid things. Hiring these people may appeal to you, but I’ll caution against it. Information obtained in an illegal manner will not be able to be used in a court of law. It could end up working against you. At Owens Investigations, our goal is to provide you with information that was obtained legally and that you can use to help your case.

Private investigators are professionals. The best ones are smart, talented, resourceful, dedicated, and know and understand the law as it pertains to their profession. Most of the work is anything but glamorous; culling through reams of information to find the important nugget, hours spent gathering information, reading through case files, making untold numbers of phone calls, searching the vast depths and farthest corners of the internet. It is work we enjoy doing. Patience and persistence in this job is a virtue.

So are there drawbacks to being a private investigator? Yes. People don’t view my profession as something honorable, but rather as a little sleazy. Too many potential clients expect us to do illegal things. But that’s okay. There are many impressive, top-notch professionals that are working to change that perception all over the country, continent, and even around the world. Until we change that perception, we will continue to work just as hard as we can, legally, to find the information you seek, the answers to your questions, and the insights that have been missed, so that the general public can see how private investigations should really been done.

 

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Keith Owens is the owner and founder of Owens Investigations.

 

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