Have you ever been asked what you do for a living? When people ask me, I tell them I’m a private investigator (PI).
Kind of interesting, right? You don’t get the opportunity to meet private investigators every day, let alone talk to them about what they do.
Inevitably, the next question asked is:
“Who hires you?”
Aside from “educational” shows about private investigators (like Cheaters), I’m surprised at the lack of information available. One look at web search results and it seems all we PIs do are infidelity or domestic cases. Case in point:
There are a lot of false assumptions about the identity of both private investigators and our clients. We all don’t look like this guy:
In truth, private investigators offer a mix of services that are useful to a wide array of customers.
Here are 7 types of people that commonly use our services:
Human Resource (HR) Professionals
As an HR pro, you strive to bring in quality employees to fill open positions in your company. But how can you be sure new employees will be a great fit?
I’m glad you asked.
By hiring a private investigator to conduct a background check.
Running a background check before you hire an employee (a pre-employment screening) helps to develop and evaluate a candidate’s profile.
A good screening will help you answer several questions, such as:
- Does the candidate have a criminal record? Avoiding workplace violence is crucial and is one of the first items a pre-employment screen uncovers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 (9%) were workplace homicides. (You’ll also want to make sure your investigator is compliant with pre-employment regulations and laws – see Ban the Box for more info.)
- Do their resumes check out? PIs screen candidates to make sure all the details of a resume are true. Lying on a resume is illegal in some states, not to mention it’s ethically wrong and can lead to serious harm to a company’s reputation if it becomes public.
- Did they attend the college(s) they claim they did? The number one lie on resumes comes in the form of “education padding,” where applicants embellish or fudge their education information. PIs can track down college records, years attended, and degrees that a candidate received.
- Are their past employment records accurate? PIs specialize in tracking down past employers. Many times, PIs can uncover false employment claims or omission of previous employment on a resume.
- Do they have good credit? PIs can run credit reports to find credit ratings that leave much to be desired. Again, it’s important to find a PI who understands and complies with the consumer reporting laws. (See Using Consumer Reports: What Employers Need to Know and Fair Credit Reporting Act for more info.)
- Is he/she a sex offender? Sexual harassment costs companies bundles of money. In 2011, over $52 million was doled out to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. That number doesn’t even count the number of women (and men) who don’t report the act altogether, which could be as high as 1 in 3. PIs can access nationwide data on sexual offenders so you can avoid this problem altogether.
Preventing workplace injuries is an integral part of the job description for occupational, environmental, and industrial safety professionals.
The ability to administer the workers’ compensation program is lumped into many of those job descriptions. On top of that, it’s beneficial to a safety manager to be informed about how to save the company money. One way to do this is by eliminating fraudulent claims.
How do you work towards eliminating fraud?
You guessed it: hire a private investigator.
Private investigators can conduct surveillance on fraudulent workers’ compensation claimants. Obtaining compromising video, along with a detailed report of a fraudulent claimant’s activities, can magically make claims go away. Safety professionals that partner with a competent and well-versed surveillance expert can help deliver this result.
Insurance Claims Adjusters
Unfortunately, insurance fraud is a booming business in today’s world. Automobile accidents, arson, and healthcare fraud total approximately $40 – $80 billion annually,  costing the average U.S. family anywhere from $400-$700 per year.
To defeat insurance fraud, insurance companies hire private investigators. PIs can perform automobile accident reconstructions, interview claimants and witnesses, and gather law enforcement records to determine who is at fault and who might be cheating the system.
The end result equals money saved and risk avoided.
Lawyers are another type of private investigator client.
Private investigators can help lawyers dig into opposing parties’ backgrounds, interview potential witnesses, and aid in the litigation process.
Also, private investigators serve subpoenas and specialize in tracking down witnesses and plaintiffs who may not want to be found. Hiring a PI to do the legwork is a cost that’s worth the investment.
Caregiver or Homemaker
What if you need a babysitter to watch your child, but the next-door neighbor isn’t available?
Conducting a background check on a nanny, babysitter, or caregiver gives you peace of mind.
You’ll want to know if the person looking after your son or daughter is responsible enough to babysit your child. Private investigators can locate past and current criminal records, sexual offenses, and verify your babysitter’s identity.
Business owners want to make sure their business interests are protected. They also want to determine if they’re getting into business with the right partners.
Hiring a private investigator to conduct a business background check on a client’s business partner, a.k.a a due diligence search helps to evaluate the quality of a business partnership.
You’ll want to know what kind of credit both the candidate and the business have, a list of their business assets, the business representative, any negative media associated with the business, and any other past issues.
Businesses also use private investigators to conduct security and integrity audits.
For example, a PI can do anything from investigating the security of a building or inspecting the quality of service at a restaurant. Private investigators can follow salespeople to learn if they’re regularly attending their sales meetings, stake out bars and clubs to make sure the staff isn’t stealing from the register, and attempt to (legally) “break into” data storage companies to test their safeguards.
Landlord (Property Owner)
Renting your property to bad tenants is a problem. Hiring an investigator helps mitigate the risk of renting to untrustworthy renters.
That’s your property that you’re allowing someone else to live in, so you have a vested interest in making sure it’s not torn to pieces once the lease expires. Vetting your tenants upfront can help to ensure you collect your rent check every month and alleviate property damage concerns.
Private investigators can help by conducting a background check on your potential tenant to find criminal records, prior evictions, civil suits, and bad credit. Searches like this will paint a picture of your potential tenant on the front end. From there, you can make the decision to rent to them or hold off and wait for a better candidate to come along.
What Other Ways Can Private Investigators Serve You?
Leave a message in the comments below.
 “What you should know about workplace violence – CNN.com.” 2014. 12 Jan. 2016 <http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/27/us/workplace-violence-questions-answers/>
 “Sexual harassment charge statistics – EEOC.” 2009. 13 Jan. 2016 <http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/sexual_harassment.cfm>
 “1 In 3 Women Has Been Sexually Harassed At Work …” 2015. 13 Jan. 2016 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/1-in-3-women-sexually-harassed-work-cosmopolitan_n_6713814.html>
 “FBI — Insurance Fraud.” 2015. 13 Jan. 2016 <https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/insurance-fraud>