You hear about a private investigator going rogue, but this is often not the case and can even be illegal. Here’s why PIs are always highly ethical.
Running a private investigation can sometimes be mistaken for sneaky business. Not everyone has the best perception of such a service. But, this is a business that benefits a significant amount of the public.
If you manage a private investigator group, you know this better than anyone.
The thing is, you also must know the value of keeping honest practices. Encouraging honesty and integrity in your line of work is what keeps any private investigation practice alive and thriving.
However, while you may be acting ethical it is still important to be covered. That’s right where talking about insurance! Head over to our PI Insurance page to see how we can cover you.
The following is a closer look at the value of honest practices, and how every private investigator can live up to this standard.
What Exactly Does a Private Investigator Do?
In the most basic of terms, a private investigator is one who is paid to gather, analyze, and verify information. Investigators can work on their own as contractors for different groups – like police departments or individual clients – or as part of an investigative firm.
Whichever way they operate, the bottom line is about the information an investigator is paid to discover.
Some people hire private investigators if they think their lover is having an affair or if their business partner is possibly involved in suspicious activity. There are various rates and terms and conditions for such situations, making private investigation a case-by-case kind of work environment.
Still, there are some things every private investigator should and should not undertake.
What Can Happen if a Private Investigator Messes Up?
Before diving into all the ways a private investigator can be honest in their work, it’s worth mentioning the consequences that can happen if they fall short.
This line of work is not child’s play, and it can cause a significant amount of stress for many people when it goes wrong. Below are just a few things that can happen because of dishonest private investigation practices.
Damage to Personal Reputations
Whether you’re hired to investigate a legal case, a criminal trial, an intimate relationship gone wrong, or anything else – people’s reputations are on the line.
There is always a reason someone covers up their tracks, no matter what they are doing. Following them down that rabbit hole and uncovering the truth can damage their reputation if you aren’t careful.
This might seem like the reason your client hired a private investigator in the first place, but it’s not your position to determine. All the information you gather should be taken directly to your client and with caution.
It is up to them to act on it, and up to you to stay out of the way.
Any deviation from this can cause strain on the reputation of your client, the person or subject being investigated, and even yourself as the investigator.
Mistakes are Bad for Business
If you are not the investigator in the field, but rather the owner or operator of a private investigation agency, your reputation is also at risk. The moment a case goes wrong or a client’s reputation is on the line, so is yours.
Beyond personal pride and certain relationships, this affects the future of your business. It sheds a bad light on the quality of work you offer and can cause individuals to pursue another company for these services.
One private investigation mishap is usually something you can bounce back from.
But, multiple occurrences will indicate a pattern of bad private investigation practices and can easily put you out of business. Be proactive to prevent this by ensuring that each private investigator you add to your firm uses best practices like some of those we mention in this article.
What Are the Best Practices for Private Investigators to Follow?
To stress the use of best practices, you must know them, first.
Some things – like respect and discreteness – are common sense. Others may not be as obvious, but are still worth emphasizing.
Here are the ins and outs of what it means to be an honest private investigator.
Follow the Code of Ethics
The Code of Ethics of Private Investigators is more than an honor code to follow.
This is a set of standards every investigator must adhere, which are broken down into categories like professional relations, public relations, and conversations with other investigators.
The Code of Ethics for Private Investigators varies by state in the United States, although there is an international code. It’s crucial to ensure your investigators know the requirements and guidelines of your state’s code, especially if they are coming to you from another state.
Know the Environment
The Code of Ethics follows each investigator everywhere they go and guides each case an investigator begins.
But, as mentioned before, every case is unique.
There is a big difference in following someone who may be having an affair versus uncovering specific business details like financial information or overseas activity. These are just a few situational examples investigators may encounter.
Whatever the case may be, the best investigators are highly perceptive, intelligent individuals. They know how to assess a situation before they begin, and actively use critical thinking skills and research to solve their cases.
Proceed with Caution
In addition to being able to properly assess a situation, every investigator needs to know when to back off. Simply, there are certain actions investigators can and cannot take. And, even though a client has hired a private investigator to research and report on their job request, that hiring does not give the investigator the right to break the law.
Not to mention, it’s the job of every investigator to do their duties discreetly. If there is ever a chance that they may be discovered, it’s best to back off and make a different attempt to gather the desired information. While a role as a PI may give someone the feel of having superhero secretive powers, it’s important to remember that we’re all human and held to the same rules as the client or the person being investigated.
Keep Your Employees in Line and Expand Your Business
The best way to stay in business and grow your private investigation practice is to run an honest, professional operation. This means making sure all of your private investigators know the value of their work and what your expectations are for them.
Always remind your team what it means to do an honest private investigation. Offer tools and insights to help them improve as they take on new cases, too.
This is the core of your operation. It is what sets your business apart from other private investigators and keeps clients coming to you.
For other ways to expand your private investigation business, learn more here.