When your team or yourself have the feeling that someone is not being honest with you it can be unsettling. Corporate theft is a serious issue, costing American companies billions of dollars every year. About a third of a time, these cases of theft are from high level managers. No matter the details of the situation, it is stressful and confusing.


You don’t want to wrongly accuse them, but you also want to get down to the bottom of the situation as soon as possible. If you are in a professional setting, there are also policies and laws to consider before you can take any action. No matter what the situation, the most important thing is to sort out the truth without doing any permanent damage.


So what should somebody do if they think they are being lied to? Here are five tips from the perspective of a private investigator.


  1. Gather the facts- It’s a lot harder for someone to lie to you if you are well informed of the facts. In the case of possible employee theft, go over your books immediately. If you suspect your spouse is cheating on you, go over the credit card transactions for days you suspect he or she was lying to you. Further, if you suspect a new employee might be lying about their past experience, invest in a thorough background check that you can obtain police reports, court documents, protective orders, bankruptcies or other debt. In the investigations stages, knowledge is power, and if you don’t have all the information, you will not be able to hone in on misdeed or specific mistruths. (Of course, do not tell the person in question that you are gathering this information.)
  2. Look for hints- It’s a myth that you can detect a lie by the direction in which the person looks when asked a question, or by how they hold their arms, or any of those easy options. However, it’s completely true that analyzing someone’s behavior and body language can reveal when they are uncomfortable or stressed. Try sprinkling information into normal conversations to see if you can see a reaction in your suspect. For example,  if you have a hunch that your friend is stealing your prescription drugs, try mentioning the drugs in a story when she is not looking at you and see if she pauses, looks up, or hesitates.  While this is not a 100% effective strategy for discovering a lie, it can help you find something revealing.
  3. Learn the policies- As mentioned above, if the potential lie is taking place in a professional environment, it is important to get familiar with the laws and policies surrounding investigating, firing, and pressing charges against an employee. Whether the employee is a superior or entry level, you need to make sure that his or her rights and privacy are respected, otherwise you may end up with bigger problems. Similarly, if you suspect  lying taking place in your private life, you need to make sure you don’t cross any boundaries of privacy. Logging onto someone’s social media or reading their private messages can be considered trespassing in some instances.
  4. Call an Investigator- No matter how thorough and careful you are during your investigation, if the situation is of serious importance, it’s always better to hire an outside professional to help you understand the situation. Though it might seem like a big step to hire a private investigator, it can save you a lot of stress and worry by getting you reliable answers quickly. With issues such as theft or fraud where you risk losing money, the investment in a P.I. (which usually ends up somewhere around $2,500) will seem like nothing compared to the money you save by presenting a solid case of evidence in court. Sometimes in personal situations, people have a hard time deciding to call a private investigator because they feel like it is putting the nail in the coffin of a relationship. But this does not have to be the case. Private investigators are experts at being discreet and if they don’t find anything, your partner may not even ever find out that you hired an investigator. Private investigators are not for everyone and not applicable to every situation, but it’s important to know your options if you are in trouble.
  5. Wait to confront- Whether you just suspect someone is lying to you or you have officially confirmed it, it’s best to wait to confront the person until you have spoken to professionals (police, detective, lawyer) and have a solid plan of action in place. Confrontations can be difficult, dangerous, and emotional, so it is best to make absolutely sure that you know what you want to do next (Fire them? Get a divorce? Press charges?) before the confrontation occurs. If you can, let the professionals support you during the confrontation process so that you have an objective third party present.


If you suspect someone is lying to you, you may be right, but always keep in mind that you may be wrong as well. Never jump to conclusions, it could lead you to betraying the trust of someone you care about. Instead, take the time to smartly and respectfully gather more information and get the right help.