Growing up watching television detectives may have led you to think that all PIs live a life filled with mystery and adventure, that they drive sports cars and have access to amazing spy gadgetry and secret government records. That may be true for a very few investigators, but the majority of us have no fancy car or special superpowers. Here, in a nutshell, are five myths about the work of private investigators:
1. It’s a glamorous job. Nothing could be further from the truth unless you think that sitting in a parked car for hours – or digging through cell phone records for days on end — is glamorous. Researching, reading, and writing are the primary activities of the job. Most of what an investigator does is pretty boring; it’s a commitment to uncovering the truth of a situation that motivates the private eye.
2. Private investigators always get to the bottom of things. In the movies and TV shows, the work of the PI always results in a good outcome for the client. In reality, results can be mixed and the work we do doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. Unlike fiction, a detective rarely stumbles on a single piece of evidence, like a “smoking gun,” that solves a case. Some investigations can lead to even more questions!
3. Private eyes have more freedom than police detectives. Because they are independent of government, private investigators have fewer freedoms than the police. They can’t seek warrants for searches or wiretaps and must comply with any state and federal laws when snooping around private property. Like the police, PIs also can’t offer bribes or hack into a person’s computer to obtain information.
4. PIs work alone because they’re essentially loners. It’s easy to understand how this myth was perpetuated by heroes of classic Hollywood detective movies — think Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. They live and work alone, occasionally assisted by a sassy, female assistant that mans the desk and is ready with a cocktail or bail money, as need dictates. These Hollywood detectives generally have no families, few, if any, friends and no one they can trust. In truth, private investigators need good people skills, and rely on a large network of colleagues to deal with almost every task they undertake.
5. It’s all about tracking and surveillance. Tracking down witnesses or gathering evidence in infidelity cases are only two of the many services private investigators provide. At Baldwin Legal Investigations, we help clients uncover insurance fraud, employee theft, and can perform background checks and polygraph examinations. We also provide assistance to law firms with skip tracing, process service and litigation support.