Everybody knows what a Private Investigator is. Or, do they? The movies depict the Investigator as the cigarette-smoking observer dressed in a dark suit, often holding the newspaper, coffee cup, wearing sunglasses, hat and other incognito accessories. But, In real life, what is the purpose of a Private Investigator? What do they do? And how do you know if you need one?
For starters, Private Investigators are licensed professionals and often own and operate their own business. In Malaysia, the profession is governed by Private Agency Act 1971. The license requirements vary from state to state but generally there are experience requirements which must be met prior to becoming a licensed Private Investigator, along with continued education requirements in order to maintain licensed status. In Malaysia, to operate a Private Investigation company, it requires one to set up a Sdn Bhd’s company where 30% of the shareholding and one of the Board of Directors must be an ex-police officer or army with a minimum rank of ASP or Captain. The license which is known as “2B” license shall be issued by Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs after stringent vetting and scrutiny on the documentation and series of interviews are conducted on the company Board of Directors.
A Private Investigator’s purpose is to obtain information. The ways in which this information-gathering is conducted varies by Investigator and sometimes the situation dictates the methods. Private Investigators often have advanced training on methods of interviewing and surveillance and gather information in a timely, efficient manner.
On a typical day, Investigators may perform surveillance, conduct interviews, interrogate witnesses, search databases, private and/or public records, gather social network information, gather criminal conviction information, operate technology and media devices and investigate scenes.
Private Investigator services range from general investigative services to highly specialized services. They often take cases from both private and corporate/business clients.
Who needs a Private Investigator? Private citizens may require the assistance from a Private Investigator in order to determine who their biological parents are. Or, maybe they are about to enter a contract or start a new business venture and want their business partner vetted. In other cases, a spouse may believe their spouse is cheating and wants help determining this. Investigators also are able to assist in locating stolen property or may be called upon to determine the cause of a fire. A politician may want a Private Investigator to research their reputation by searching databases, interviewing and/or doing online research including use of social media.
Businesses may utilize Private Investigators to verify sound investment opportunities, conduct background checks on potential employees, “debug” their offices or to conduct interviews. Investigators are also utilized in claims involving workers’ compensation in order to verify claims.
There are some Private Investigators who work solely with criminal and civil attorneys, conducting interviews of witnesses and gathering additional facts for cases. The above is just some ways a Private Investigator may help their clients.
In the age of modern technology, Investigators have moved away from the 35mm cameras, binoculars, and newspapers. Modern day Investigators have sound recording equipment, high performance digital camera and lens, HD video recording, monitoring devices, and ability to determine whereabouts using online resources such as Geo-locating or online footprints.
There are many resources available for the Private Investigator today, which is why the field is more effective at gathering facts than ever before.