As investigators, we deal primarily with insurance companies, legal firms and businesses. When it comes to working with the public there can be some “misconceptions” as to what we can do. It is important for the general public to understand the role a private investigative agency will provide. Simply put, investigators are data collectors and evidence suppliers. We do not supply legal advice or enforce the law like police officers or other law enforcement organizations.
A private investigator must be licensed and must be working with a licensed investigations agency in order to perform legal services. Private investigators will work with the information provided by you as lead to an end result. Investigators strive to obtain the result the client needs, however there are cases where you simply do not see what the client wants. For instance, there are clients who want to catch their spouse cheating or prove their former spouse is abusing drugs and we conduct surveillance and do not see activity that aligns with what they want to see. We have no control of an outcome and cannot coerce people into activity they are not doing. As no case is alike, no agency can offer a true guarantee of their findings only to provide what is available based on the time the investigators spent documenting.
What We Cannot Do
Just to provide the general public with the clearest picture of what we can provide a private investigator cannot legally look into someone’s financial records, perform a credit check without consent, hack into a phone or email account to view back and forth messages, and can certainly not track a vehicle, again, without having consent. Private investigators will also not impersonate law enforcement, make an arrest, wiretap conversations or trespass on private property. Although our investigations license allows us access to information that the public cannot access we will have to remain compliant with all rules, laws, acts, and guidelines within the industry and the provincial and federal laws.
With regard to the collection of information, it is important to know that Canada has the privacy acts in place to protect your privacy. This is certainly a good thing up until you’re wanting to get information about someone else. Private investigators must abide by all laws in the collection of information that may be used in court. Information not obtained legally would not end up admissible in court and becomes a liability for an investigation agency. It is important for clients who are not familiar with the rules and laws surrounding privacy and people’s information to know what to expect and what will be provided to them with services similar to locate, skip tracing, asset searches and background checks. Although we have very high success rates and have experienced research private investigators real life investigations vs TV are much different.
We Want Happy Clients
To avoid disappointment, another important note to be aware of is private investigators are not the police, and therefore do not have the same kind of access to information when it comes to investigative research. Private investigators have accessed a wide variety of information however the police do have access above us. The various systems investigators use is paid for and later audited. Our systems allow us to conduct a variety of investigations, but some are limited to certain clients or situations. One, for instance, is we often have people who call wanting plate searches conducted and this is not something that can be legally provided. We have heard stories in the investigations industry where plate information was sold to an individual who had a cheating wife and he wanted the other man’s information and went to the man’s house while his wife was there and killed them both. Unfortunately, this was something he could do because a company illegally sold information they were not allowed to sell. So, we need to work within the law but also use common sense in situations to ensure everyone’s safety. Searches performed must be completed within legal parameters.
Are Private Investigators Expensive?
We often receive calls from individuals who want surveillance or research and for instance someone could call asking for surveillance on an infidelity matter and they say they want 30 days 24/7 and we explain they should have a budget of approximately $90,000.00 they are taken aback. Now it is not necessary or realistic for surveillance to be completed that many days or 24/7 but you sometimes deal with individuals who just have no idea what the costs of investigators are. Now the investigations industry is not cheap but what expert is? It is important to know when you contact an investigations company we have to not only have all the regular costs associated with running a business but also every system to access information is costly and equipment and training. That is why not all companies can offer locate searches and background checks as they simply do not have the funds to access the expensive systems.
Realistic Turnaround Times for Locates
Aside from costs, another interesting topic is turnaround time. On average we can predict the time it will take to execute a service, however, with no case alike it’s truly a gamble. Some cases may be easier than others, while in some instances a case may need to be put on hold pending new updated information. For instance, we deal with situations that you may provide information on the location of an individual and it turns out they moved just days or weeks from the client obtaining the results. This is common especially individuals who are facing legal situations or in debt and avoiding bailiffs attending to seize assets. In cases like this we have to put the file on hold until the individual moves and new information surfaces. It is important to know we cannot pull rabbits out of hats but simply provide you the best service possible and update you at all points along the way.
Get The Information Upfront
We have heard many stories from clients who come to us after being burnt elsewhere to find out they were just not informed of the service they wanted. It is important to know what you are investing in when you spend your money on anything but certainly in the world of private investigations as most just do not have an idea what it is we can do.
At the Smith Investigation Agency, we are extremely transparent and if we feel we can not be of assistance we will right out say so as we do not want to waste your time or certainly not your money if we know the outcome will not be favourable or what you need for your case. If you are dealing with someone who is not transparent it may be that you are dealing with someone with little to no experience or someone who just wants your money. Like any industry there are good and bad companies. Just know who you are working with.
Once again as private investigators in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Ontario we are fact finders, serving you and are integrity based. If you need a private investigator call today for a free consultation and ask the questions you do not have answers to so you fully understand the services and our abilities.
Patricia Vercillo – VP Of Operations – The Smith Investigation Agency