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Common Mistakes a New Private Investigator Should Avoid

Common Mistakes a New Private Investigator Should Avoid

When people hear about private investigators, they usually think of Sherlock Holmes. However, being a private investigator today is nothing like being the fictional detective. Today, those who aspire to become licensed private investigators use advanced and specialized training to secure a job in the law enforcement field. Undergoing extensive programs can help you develop strong skills that will allow you to build a stable, rewarding, and exciting career in private investigation. 

Perks of Being a Private Investigator

Working in the private investigation field can be satisfying and full of adventure

Working in the private investigation field involves doing things that are out of your comfort zone. However, being a private investigator is a fulfilling and exciting career that comes with several amazing benefits.

  • Case Variety – If you are up for some detective work, private investigation may be a good career choice for you. From corporate clients to law enforcement collaboration, you can work on diverse investigative projects. It also opens up opportunities for learning new skills and information. 
  • Get Paid to Help Other People – A licensed private investigator has the opportunity to help solve crimes, find missing persons, and provide security to other people.
  • On-the-Job Excitement – The thought of going undercover while investigating a case can be an exciting experience, especially for new private investigators. You will never know where the case will take you. Investigative work also involves gathering and putting together evidence to solve cases. The thrill of working with the unknown can be one of the perks of working in the PI field. 
  • Work Independently – While some cases require multiple investigators, most private investigator jobs only involve a single detective. This is especially appealing to people who do not want to work in a strict work environment with supervisors who are constantly monitoring their every move. 
  • High Demand – Careers in private law enforcement are classified among “the 30 best-paying fast-track careers.” With the growing security and safety concerns, the need for more private investigators has increased throughout the years. The need for individuals and large companies to protect their sensitive personal or business information, trade secrets, and financial assets from international hacker groups like Anonymous, and organizations like WikiLeaks, has become more critical than ever. This opens more opportunities for many professionals who’ve taken extensive private investigation training courses
  • Financial Security – The average salary for a private investigator in Canada is $43,388 per annum. A rookie private investigator can earn around $22.25 per hour or $32,663 a year, while the most experienced professionals make up to $58,500 every year. Also, private investigators have the freedom to work independently and take on as many cases as they can or work for a large company offering a steady income and regular hours. Experienced professionals can also start their private investigation services.
  • Good Second Career – Retired police and military officers, investigative reporters, lawyers, paralegals, and even insurance agents have a chance to become private investigators. With their background in investigative works and connections in the industry, these professionals can work as private investigators as their second career or build their own private investigator companies based on their career track records and years of experience in solving difficult cases. 
  • Job Satisfaction – Doing investigative work can help stimulate you mentally and harness your analytical skills. This career choice can be appealing to individuals who love solving complex puzzles and uncovering valuable information for clients who could not find it elsewhere. 

Private Investigator Mistakes Newbies Commonly Do

Breaking the protocol can cost a private investigator’s license

A private investigator must always abide by the law and uphold a sense of morality when carrying out their duties to ensure their personal safety and protect the interest of their clients. However, inexperience may cause amateur investigators to find themselves breaking the protocol without even realizing it. 

Here are some of the most common mistakes new private investigators make and must avoid:

  • Breaking and Entering – In the movies, we have seen private investigators picking a lock, opening a slightly ajar door, or tricking a homeowner to unlock their house. However, this is not something you should do in real life. Working as a licensed private investigator does not give you the right to pick locks or enter premises to search a property for evidence without securing a search warrant from the court. PIs must also get consent from the owners before they can enter and search the premises. 
  • Posing as a Police Officer – The license obtained by private investigators does not allow them to enforce the law like a police officer. Also, impersonating a police enforcer to gather data from potential sources is illegal and can lead to the revocation of their private investigator license or even incarceration, depending on the gravity of the offence. 

Always follow the surveillance protocols 

  • Not Following Surveillance Procedures – While private investigators can perform surveillance in public places, such as in the mall or in the park, they are prohibited from carrying out surveillance if their subject is within a private territory, such as the home and its perimeters. Also, video recording or audiotaping without court consent is considered a breach of surveillance procedure, which could cost them their job. Stalking in any form is also illegal, especially if it involves intimidation and harassment. 
  • Accessing Information Without Court Consent – Part of a PI’s job description is to dig for information including the ones that are private. However, credit information, criminal records, and phone records are private records that can only be perused with consent from the court. 
  • Wiretapping Phones and Recording Conversations Without Consent – Tapping phones or recording conversations is a violation of the law unless permission has been granted by the court. The private investigator should secure a warrant before tapping someone’s phone for investigation purposes. On the other hand, Canada’s criminal law states that one can only record a conversation as long as one of the parties consent. 

As a private investigator, it is critical to know the laws that govern your profession to avoid any legal implications. This way, you will be able to carry out your job safely without violating the law while protecting your welfare and your clients’. 

How to Become an Effective Private Investigator

Having the right skill set helps solve the investigation quickly

The ability to obtain, analyze, and compile critical information from an investigation is one of the attributes of an effective private investigator. As a PI, you must handle all cases ethically and professionally while maintaining a good sense of logic and confidentiality. Additionally, taking advanced private investigation training courses can also help harness your sleuthing techniques and skills.  

Here are some of the important skills you will need to become a highly effective private investigator:

  • Observation – Having an eye for detail is a crucial skill a private investigator must-have. Catching minute details or pieces of evidence can increase your success rate in solving a difficult case. Every clue is critical so it pays to be thorough. Good observational skills are a major factor in carrying out surveillance. Some subjects leave small clues indicating their intention. One indication that gives thieves away, for example, is their tendency to take a quick look around to ensure that no one is watching them. 

Take time to learn relevant law associated with private investigation

  • Extensive Legal Knowledge – It takes learning the basics of the laws to earn your provincial private investigators license. A good private investigator must know the relevant codes, acts, and statutes, as well as the application of those ordinances to your job. Your job often involves the presentation of evidence in a legal environment, so it is important to be prepared for judicial proceedings. 
  • Professionalism – Experience is not the only measure of a successful PI. It is crucial for every private investigator to maintain a level of professionalism and integrity both in work and community affairs. Pursuing licensure is one way to build your credibility as it shows your commitment to delivering excellent service.
  • Responsiveness – It is critical for many PIs to handle cases swiftly and competently. That is why time management skill is a vital quality of an effective private investigator. Time management skill involves quick response to phone calls and emails. Maintaining open communication lines with clients and related parties is also a must. The ability of a PI to make themselves available 24/7 ensures client satisfaction. 
  • Ingenuity – An effective private investigator must have the ability to obtain critical information from all kinds of sources. They should have enough patience to sift through personal, business, and government documents, on paper or online.

A private investigator should be quick at thinking of solutions

  • Critical Thinking Skills – The old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” rings true for private investigators. PIs often encounter unexpected obstacles and challenges while solving a case. That is why critical thinking is one of the skills a PI should have. Often, the quality of a PI’s decision can impact the success of an investigation. Having a solid understanding of the need for objectivity in evidence-gathering and analysis of the information without bias helps them make decisions in the best interest of their clients. 
  • Tech Skills – One of the greatest tools used in the investigation is the Internet. Basic computer skills can help you find information online. Additionally, private investigators must know how to use devices, such as GPS trackers and video surveillance equipment. Tech savviness helps make the investigation process far more efficient. 

So, how do you go about acquiring these skills and becoming one of the best private investigators in Toronto? The Centre for Security Training and Management is the longest-running security training school in Toronto that helps you hone your skillset and take your career to the next level. Call us today at (416) 750-4747 or 1 (866) 297-0003 for your queries. You also use our contact form to send us a message.