Private investigators are hired for all sorts of reasons for background checks and fraud investigation or maybe to gather evidence on whether a partner is being faithful or not.
A few decades ago to do this private investigator would have to spend a lot of hours working out in the field. It may have involved sitting outside the person that was under investigations house for long stints of time or traveling too and fro different departments to gather certain snippets of information. Some individuals have put forward the argument that the rise of the internet has changed the face of private investigation and actually made the job a lot easier, but is this really?
The main drive behind the argument, that the internet has made private investigation easier, is that they are not required to leave the office as when compared to private investigators ten or twenty years back.
The reason they don’t have to leave the office as much is that most information that used to only be able to be collected in person, is now freely available on the internet. Instead of spending hours trailing about between passport offices and banks and the like, private investigators can just find the information from online databases.
This makes it sound like a private investigation job would be easy, this isn’t the case. This is because once private investigators have found what they are looking for they will then go and check the original document out at wherever it is held. The internet is used to ensure that their trips are not wasted, they can double check the information they are after is where it is supposed to be.
Another argument behind the internet making private investigation easier is that due to social media sites private investigators don’t have to travel around with a photo asking the famous question “Do you know this person?” , investigators can use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter see if people know each other by looking at their friend’s list or followers. Investigators could also look at photos and see if people are tagged in a photo together to establish whether or not two people do know each other.
But if this was the case, and you could just check Facebook or Twitter and get the answers you’re looking for private investigation companies would not be used, but we know that this isn’t true as the private investigation industry is a huge business. In the case of trying to uncover whether a partner was seeing someone else, would they really update a photo of them together enjoying a drink out and think you wouldn’t notice? Investigators still go out in the field and have to do some research in order to establish if there is a connection between two individuals.
The last of the top arguments fuelling the idea that private investigation has been made easier by the internet is that communication between witnesses and investigators is mostly done using email. Instead of traveling to a witness to see them face-to-face for them to identify a suspect, investigators can just send an email with a photo as an attachment.
Again this isn’t necessarily the truth, if investigators did not meet witnesses face-to-face they wouldn’t be able to asses their facial expressions and body language, which is highly important when establishing the truth.
The conclusion is that the internet hasn’t made private investigation easier. It has just forced investigators to use a mixture of old and new methods, and it’s not always the newest methods that are the best. As the internet keeps and growing it would be interesting to ask this question again a few years down the line.
This is a guest post by Mark Miller. Occasional guest blogger on online security and full-time blogger on private investigation and asset investigation. Mark currently represents Beacon Investigation Solutions a private investigation company licensed in 45 states across the US.