What Is a Private Investigator? What You Need to Know

posted by Chris Valentine

If you enjoy watching movies, you’ve probably seen many that contain private investigators. Do people in real life actually hire private i’s, though?

According to a 2019 study, there are 19.1 thousand private investigators in this country. So, the answer is yes – people do hire them, but what is a private investigator, and what do they do?

If you’re interested in learning what private investigators do and why people hire them, continue reading to learn these things and more.

What Is a Private Investigator? A PI’S Main Role

Private investigators have one primary task – to find something out. Additionally, private investigator tasks include acquiring evidence to prove what they discovered by surveilling someone or something.

When someone hires a PI, they do so to learn something about a person, place, or event. They want evidence of something or about someone, and most people have limited skills, time, and resources to achieve this goal.

As a result, people hire investigators to do the work for them, and a PI can find out many different things. When a PI begins the job, they have one goal: finding the answers to the client’s questions.

To do this, they use various strategies, but they also must follow the law. They cannot use illegal measures during their surveillance. However, they must also have the proper licensing to do this type of work.

With a private investigator license, they might be able to use tactics that civilians cannot use. Every state has rules relating to what a PI can and cannot do.

What Types of People Hire Them?

Next, you might wonder what types of people hire a private investigator, which is a good question. There are several types of people that hire PIs. Here are some examples:

Insurance Companies

The first type is insurance companies. Insurance companies might need information about a person, and they don’t have the time or resources to find the details they need. As a result, they hire a PI to do the work.


Secondly, lawyers sometimes hire private investigators for the cases they accept. When an attorney needs information about a person, they will outsource the duties to a PI.

They can even subpoena the investigator to court to testify in the case. Court cases consider PIs as expert witnesses, and their testimony builds credibility for the case.


Next, there are times when businesses hire investigators for help catching their employees doing something wrong.

A PI uses many techniques to help a company determine if an employee is stealing or doing other things wrong on the job.


Individuals that need to find something out might also hire a PI for help. The next section will explain the common reasons this occurs.

What Are the Common Reasons Individuals Hire a Private Investigator?

As you can see, many types of people hire PIs for services, but you might still want to know the common reasons individuals hire them. Here are some of the most common reasons for hiring a private investigator:

To Detect Infidelity

When a person strongly feels that their spouse is cheating on them, they might hire a PI. People looking to catch a cheating spouse don’t always have the techniques and tools needed to catch them.

A private investigator does have the tools, though. If your spouse is cheating on you, hiring a PI will settle the matter. The PI will spend weeks or months watching your spouse and will record what they find out about it.

To Locate Missing People

There are also times when people hire PIs for help to find someone that is missing. Suppose your child went missing. If the police cannot find the child, you can hire a PI to see what they can find out about the situation.

To Research a Person’s Background

You can also hire an investigator to conduct a background check. Imagine if your parent started dating someone new. If you had suspicious feelings about this person, you could ask a PI to complete a background check.

To Find Assets in a Divorce Case

People also hire PIs during divorce cases. If you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets from you, an investigator can find out for you.

You’ll reap many benefits of a private investigator if you hire one for one of these reasons or any other reason.

What Strategies Do They Use?

When you hire an investigator, they might use a combination of many techniques to find the answers you want and need. These are some of the main strategies they use when doing their jobs:

Following People

Following people around is a great way to see what they do and where they go. Some PIs work alone, while others work in teams. Following a person is tricky, though, as the PIs must avoid getting caught by the suspect.

Video Surveillance

A PI might also use video surveillance to catch someone doing something. For example, they might place secret cameras in your home to see what your spouse does while you are gone.

Phone Tapping

While most investigators cannot tap phones, there are strategies they use to determine who people talk to and text on their phones.

Internet Searches

Most private investigators also spend a lot of time searching the Internet for information. They browse through social media sites and other websites in search of any tips or details that will help them find the answers they need.

Is Hiring One a Good Idea?

Does this answer your question of, “what is a private investigator?” Hopefully, it does. As you learn more about the services that PIs offer, you might decide that you need to hire one for help.

Hiring one can provide you with the information you need for a problem you currently have.

If you’re tired of reading boring articles about normal subjects you find on most blogs, check out our blog. We have lots of great articles about interesting things that you won’t find on other sites!

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