What are your opinions on Private Detectives?

What are your opinions on Private Detectives?

This is a discussion on What are your opinions on Private Detectives? within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I'm asking on this particular forum as we are a civil, well informed group that will almost certainly have opinions on the matter. There is ...

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Thread: What are your opinions on Private Detectives?

  1. #1
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    What are your opinions on Private Detectives?

    I'm asking on this particular forum as we are a civil, well informed group that will almost certainly have opinions on the matter. There is probably a forum out there specifically for Private Detectives but obviously if I asked there the answers would be biased.

    I'm probably getting near to a crossroads in my life, I may be changing career paths in the next few years. Presently I am a contractor, I do ok and I enjoy it but it isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life.
    I'm 40, my knees sometimes feel older than that, if I keep doing what I'm doing I'll probably wear my body out.
    So I was listening to the radio today and they were discussing changing career, and how to find what you should be doing. I'm well suited to what I do now but as I want to change I looked at my other skills and came to the conclusion that I would very likely make a good private detective.

    • I have a strong sense of detail, I am very observant.
    • I have great people skills, across the social spectrum.
    • I'm a good judge of character but not a fool that trusts everyone.
    • I love doing research, reading data, comparing results.
    • I have previously done plain clothes retail Security work, loss prevention and apprehension of thieves.



    But what I don't know is what it takes to be a Private Detective, obviously as it's something I haven't previously considered.
    Do they even still exist in any great number? Do people still use them? And if so, what work do they get?
    Are there any other skills necessary that I am lacking that are crucial to the job?

    I'm very interested in your opinions, this is just an idea forming in my head right now but it might lead to something.

    I must add that my income is strictly secondary in our household, anyone who disagrees with being married to a strong woman stop reading now but my wife earned just about 20 times what I grossed last year. So I won't be undertaking this career change hoping to get rich. Also I have already considered combining the two and becoming a Home Inspector, that is my second choice though.


  2. #2
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    Array SIXTO's Avatar
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    The kind you see on TV are mostly gone. There is a good market for them working for insurance companies, law firms, banks and corperations. Its not as exciting as you may think, but if done correctly it can be rewarding. Most that I know focus on financial investigations, so the are not doing stakeouts car chases and that sort of made for TV type stuff.
    "Just blame Sixto"

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    YesPI's are still used , normaly by attnys, insurance companys , and bonding agents. I dont know what licencing involves in your state ( or even if it licences investigators ) but that would be the first thing to check out . Another issue is jobs come thro who you know moreso than what is in a phone book . I have seen both good and bad pi's over the years the good ones without fail were at least middle aged , and usualy off duty or former le picking up a bit of extra scratch. I do a bit myself from time to time for a couple of attorneys and frankly it feels funny to work for the defense team lol . As far as i can see there is no " magnum pi " crap to it , its talk to prospective witnesses , and write a report for the attny for the most part. If you skip trace for a bonding agent that runs into a bit more . Note that i am not talking bail enforcement here , only doing the legwork to locate a skip's possible rabbit hole. I would say if you have the contacts, and are not dependant on it for a liveing to start out with , well then what the heck , give it a whorl lol .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

  4. #4
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Yeah, I was hoping it wouldn't be anything like Magnum PI. I'm not looking for adrenalin from fist fights, just a satisfying job.
    The tracing of skipped bail accounts sounds interesting, but I'm not ex-LEO so that may be a disqualifier from the start.

    I'll sniff around my Lawyer friends, see what they know about that.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array Zundfolge's Avatar
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    Private investigation, process service, auto reposession, skip tracing/bounty hunting ... all these careers tend to attract a certain type of person. Most of the guys that I've known that do any of those things (and most of them overlap ... process service seems to be the common bond) are not the most savory types. I get the impression that they would be outright criminals if these jobs didn't exist.

    Thats not to say there aren't honest, decent folk doing these jobs ... but the majority are not the kind of people you'd want in your house.

    Anyway, here would be a good place to start digging for info http://www.state.tn.us/commerce/boar.../pi/index.html
    and here http://www.tpia.com/

  6. #6
    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Great links, thanks.
    License Requirements:

    In order to hold a valid Tennessee Private Investigator License the applicant/licensee must be affiliated with a licensed Tennessee Private Investigators Company. An applicant must:

    * Be at least 21 years of age
    * Be a citizen of the United States or a resident alien
    * Not have been declared by any court of competent jurisdiction incompetent by reason of mental defect or disease (unless subsequently declared competent by a court of competent jurisdiction)
    * Affiliated with a licensed Tennessee PI company or license own company
    * Not suffer from habitual drunkenness or narcotics addiction or dependence
    * Be of good moral character
    * Meet examination and continuing education requirements
    * Applicant must submit fingerprint cards for processing by TBI and FBI for criminal history check.
    Sounds a lot like getting a HCP.

  7. #7
    Ex Member Array one eyed fatman's Avatar
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    You'd be working all hours of the day and night. If you have no home life go for it. Otherwise do the home inspections.

  8. #8
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    I worked for two PI firms...both high end firms....what they did was nothing like the stereotypical PI'ers in TV as they mostly computer and public records searches and interviews. I assisted in several surveillances. Both firms specialized in financial investigations and due diligence for attorneys, financial institutions, and Fortune 500 companies. They also did work for gov't jurisdictions.
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  9. #9
    Member Array kansas_plainsman's Avatar
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    There are alternatives - semi-government work - a friend of mine was a enforcement case officer for the Kansas SRS - he tracked down deadbeat dads (and the occasional mom) whose spouse had signed over child support payments in order to receive state social services. Because he was a state employee he could use drivers license and social security numbers to track these guys down. Spent all of his time writing letters (the use of certified and registered mail was an interesting technique in itself) and making telephone calls.

    It *was* a government job, so it had a very high guano factor, but he had powers no PI ever has. He didn't have a badge, nor a gun, nor would he have known what to do with either. He was a detail-oriented people person.
    Last edited by kansas_plainsman; February 22nd, 2007 at 11:41 AM.
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  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array Black Knight's Avatar
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    I used to be a PI. Don't fall for those correspondant courses. Most states do not recognize them. Find out the state agency responsible for regulating and licensing PI's. They will be able to give you all the answers you need to get started. In Virgina you would be surprised at how many trained PI's there are out there. Not all the trained PI's actually go and get their state registration. It isn't a glamorous job. You will spend many long hours doing research and leg work. You could spend many hours away from home and the family. You may appear in court to testify in a case. You will make a number of enemies. The trick is to keep the enemies away from your family. I had a friend in the business who went and bought an old car in his business address. That way if anyone were to run the tags it would not come back to his home. When not using it he kept it in a garage under a car cover. When your research could cost someone their job, reputation, and/or bank account some folks get rather upset and take it out on the PI. If you decide to do it be careful. It can be pure h___ at times and it can be very rewarding at others as well.

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    My advice is look up companies in the yellow pages and express your interest in becoming a PD. You will probably get the best info from them.

    The tracing of skipped bail accounts sounds interesting, but I'm not ex-LEO so that may be a disqualifier from the start.
    If you're talking bounty hunter stuff, don't worry about it. Most BH's don't have LE or military experience. I am a PT bail agent and do asset recovery on the side too. Not too busy. I've made about 40-some arrests in 2 years up here. Being a BH in MI is nice because we are entitled to LE backup at our request.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    LOL I am former LE and would not take a bail enforcment job on a bet. Nor would i personaly do asset revovery . Everyone has standards and preferances tho, and so far i have not been hungry enough to do that work, but hey if its your cup of tea it needs done and i can pick and choose since it is not my " living " and i got out of LE with a good conviction record for cases i had my thumb in . I could do more , but dont want to .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0.02 View Post
    [I]
    • I have a strong sense of detail, I am very observant.
    • I have great people skills, across the social spectrum.
    • I'm a good judge of character but not a fool that trusts everyone.
    • I love doing research, reading data, comparing results.
    • I have previously done plain clothes retail Security work, loss prevention and apprehension of thieves.
    Well, not quite PI work, but if you like research, why not be a research coordinator (me)? All teaching hospitals use them, in one way or another, and many private physicians do as well. Generally, they prefer a BS, many have a preference for RNs, but..... I'm non-degreed, and hired for"technical expertise". Just a thought. Mostly desk and telephone work, dealing with patient-participants, generally good pay. Can be as busy or as steady as you want to make it.

    Just to add: I'll be 35 in a few weeks,and wouldn't work bail, for love or money. PD can be good to you, if you get a "quiet" area, and keep up with the gym. Lots of guys get fuggered up in EMS.
    Last edited by Rob72; February 20th, 2007 at 02:55 PM.

  14. #14
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    Can't add too much but the impression I get is a major part of PI work is surveillance - lots of it!! Tracking down errant 2-timing spouses and blowing the cover of insurance scammers - etc. Mostly from my perspective boring beyond what I could tolerate anyways!

    I do believe Class3NH could throw in some useful info too.
    Chris - P95
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  15. #15
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    a major part of PI work is surveillance
    In my experiance soley , not really , THE major part of it is research and common sense . The ability to use the web, and go chase publicly avalable documents from courts , ect. as well as a good line of bs for some who are not required to provide info , but also are not forbidden from doing it by law . phone skills are a must lol .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

    Criminals are looking for victims, not opponents.

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