Client Confidentiality And The Options Of A Person Under Investigation

What exactly does private investigator confidentiality cover? If a person discovers he or she is under surveillance by a private investigation firm, what are his or her rights and what should he or she do — if anything — to confront the private investigator?

These are commonly asked questions among Arkus, Inc. clients and well worth asking if you believe you may be the target of a private investigation. (Or, for that matter, if you want to initiate surveillance of some other individual.) Here are key points to keep in mind concerning surveillance and private investigator confidentiality laws:

First, the objective of undercover investigators “is to remain covert during the course of the assignment so no one is aware of the investigation.” In the vast majority of our covert investigations — whether the problem is employee theft, fraud, industrial sabotage, spousal infidelity, etc. — the target of surveillance is never aware that he or she is being followed. Our advanced surveillance techniques include:

Ø Observation — physically watching and following a target
Ø Electronic surveillance — using digital photography and/or video recordings
Ø Mobile or unmanned surveillance

As premier private investigators in the Chicagoland area and surrounding suburbs, we are highly skilled in these and related covert surveillance techniques, thereby minimizing the likelihood that our investigators will be discovered.

What Investigators Can’t Do

We are also keenly aware of the limitations of private investigatory techniques — what the law permits and doesn’t permit a private investigator to do. It’s important that businesses or individuals seeking to enlist an investigator’s services understand these limitations.

In most states, investigators cannot:

  • Operate without a license
  • Impersonate or otherwise pretend to be a police officer or federal law enforcement official (including the use of a badge, uniform or anything else associated with a state or federal agency)
  • Enter a house, building or other property by breaking and entering (and can’t enter a residence with the owner’s consent)
  • Open, tamper or mutilate another person’s mail
  • Engage in telephone wiretapping or monitor phone conversations
  • Place a GPS tracking device on a car, truck or other vehicle without the owner’s consent
  • Hack into an email or social media account

On the other hand, in most states, private investigators are legally permitted to sort through an individual’s trash in search of discarded items like bank statements, phone records and other items that may relate to the investigation. They can undertake covert surveillance (stakeouts, tailing people, monitor daily behavior, etc.) and interview a target’s family members, friends and associates.

If confronted, investigators are not required by private investigator confidentiality laws to disclose their employer. They may be obliged to identify themselves to the police, but nothing further is required.

What if You’re the One Being Followed?

What if you discover you are the target of a private investigator? As we noted previously, it’s unlikely this will happen — since it’s in the investigator’s interest to remain unnoticed — but should you become aware of what’s known as “rough shadowing,” we advise the following:

  • Do not confront or verbally accost the investigator.
  • Do not involve neighbors or family members in dealing with the investigator.
  • Do not “turn the tables” and drive after the investigator’s car.

These actions can inflame an already heated situation and, in a worst-case scenario, lead to potential violence. Instead, we suggest you contact your state’s private investigator association and/or local enforcement that can then make contact and assess the facts of the situation.

If you or your business needs the services of a skilled private investigation firm, choose Arkus, Inc. We can handle virtually any type of investigation project. Our prices are competitive and our reputation second to none in the industry. Contact us today for your free consultation.