Private Investigator. Many people don’t know that they exist and play an active role in Australia let alone that you can actually be one. When I network or go to parties, I don’t need an elevator pitch to capture peoples attention, all I have to say is “Im a Private Investigator”. That’s it, I have their attention. After the awkward initial “What do you do?” question comes a much more elated, high pitched question which is… “Really!? I didn’t know they exist! Who uses Private Investigators??” Good question.
There are a lot of Private Investigators around, there are also many different types who work in specialised areas. From Child Custody Investigations to due diligence Workcover claim inquiries to infidelity and suspected gambling or drug addictions, there is no shortage of work for a Private Investigator. There are, broadly speaking, two main types of investigators: Surveillance Investigators and Factual Investigators. Many investigators specialise but often a case requires the Investigator to be both!
As a Private Investigator you can be hired to be someone else’s eyes for a time which is called Surveillance Investigations. This is when you just need to get footage, make notes and report back. You cant make assumptions, your goal is to merely put forward what you see. For example if you are hired by Workcover to watch a ‘Subject’ because they have missed their last few doctors appointments and are suspected of fraud, then you are to get footage of the Subject for them and report back. Your opinion is not needed. There is still a good deal of problem solving, following people is never easy! Funnily enough, people don’t often notice they are being followed but can lose the Investigator tailing them anyway. You don’t know if the Subject is going to walk, get in the car, jump on a bus or a train, even a plane. You have to be ready to do all of the above at a moments notice, without being noticed! Not always an easy task.
Surveillance Investigators are typically hired by:
Individuals who need help with harassment, infidelity issues, child support matters or issues related to drug, alcohol or gambling addictions.
Solicitors, lawyers, financiers and insurers to help them gather information in regards to a civil case.
Banks, building societies, credit unions and finance companies who need information on the whereabouts and dealings of debtors.
Small businesses who suspect fraud, foul play or theft, Workcover claims bought against them or have workplace bullying issues.
Developers or Investors who are looking to invest large amounts of money into someone/something to ensure everything is running as smoothly as they are told.
Another type of Private Investigator is a Factual Investigator. A Factual Investigator’s job is to, as the name implies, get the facts. Factual Investigators usually come onto the scene where legal action has been indicated or commenced and they are generally dealing in liability investigations or assessments. They take statements, find witnesses, get reports from emergency services, put together time and event lines and get as much information together as possible to help with the proceedings. Factual Investigations include:
• Workers compensation
• Motor vehicle accident
• Stolen motor vehicle
• Public Liability
• Compulsory third party
• Work history
Aside from the two well know Factual and Surveillance Investigations, Investigators are also hired to skiptrace. Skiptracing is finding someone who doesn’t want to or cannot be found. “Skip” refers to the person being searched for and it is derived from the idiom “to skip town” and they left minimal clues behind for people to conventionally “trace”. This is a specialty skill which requires a lot of creative thinking and patience. If someone doesn’t want to be found, a skiptracer can find them! Skiptracers are usually hired by people who are looking to recover a debt eg. banks, small/large businesses, sole traders and debt collection agencies and also to help locate witnesses of events that have occurred.
Private Investigators are also approached for GPS tracking and monitoring for asset protection and location (very strict laws apply to this), Internet and IT Investigations such as cyber stalking/harassment, online identity theft, scams and domain ownership, Brand Protection and IP issues, online dating background checks, mystery shopping, celebrity or VIP issues (yes this is a thing), due diligence investigations and hidden asset location. No doubt there are even more I could add to the list, but as you can see Private Investigation is a live, well and necessary occupation in Australia!