5 Misconceptions and Limitations of Private Investigators

5 Misconceptions and Limitations of Private Investigators

Mainstream media has done a fantastic job of skewing the public’s view of private investigators to be something that it’s not. Specifically, TV-shows and movies portray private investigators as people who are not bound by the same laws as everyone else. Here are some of the popular misconceptions about private investigators:

Misconceptions about Private Investigators


  1. Private investigators can’t make arrests.

It is a common perception that private investigators function similarly to the police. However, private investigators are not permitted to make arrests unless they are in a state where a citizen’s arrest is legal. Even then, specific circumstances must be met and it is more probable that a private investigator would contact the police if they felt an arrest was warranted.

  1. They can’t check someone’s financial records.

Private investigators have several tools at their disposal but access to financial records is not one of them. Bank account information falls under private property and cannot be accessed without the appropriate approval from a court.

  1. They can’t tap phone conversations.

This is another instance where a private investigator is bound by the law. Private phone conversations are still protected property and it is illegal for anyone to tap a phone without permission from a court. This also applies to recording any kind of conversation without the subjects being aware.

  1. They put together background reports on people that contain private information.

This misconception is derived from the background reports people purchase online. The information in these reports, however, consist of public information and are usually generated by an automated system. You can often find the same information online yourself without paying a fee for it.


  1. They can’t access someone’s credit information.

Laws in the United States have made it exceptionally difficult to obtain an individual’s credit information. A private investigator is bound by the same laws and cannot legally obtain someone’s credit information without telling them first.

Now that you know a little more about the misconceptions of private investigators, let’s talk about how they can actually be of help. The advantage of a private investigator is that they can tell you where to find information that will bolster your case. They can also compile useful information that might be difficult to obtain on your own. If you decide to hire a private investigator, be sure to get complete documentation of the services they provide.

Feel you have a case? Feel free to contact us to see how we can help.