A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally called a private eye), a private detective, or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private detectives/investigators often work for attorneys in civil and criminal cases.
Many private detectives/investigators with special academic and practical experience also work with defense attorneys on capital punishment and other criminal defense cases. Many others are insurance investigators who investigate suspicious claims. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, many private investigators sought evidence of adultery or other conduct within marriage to establish grounds for a divorce. Despite the lack of legal necessity for such evidence in many jurisdictions, according to press reports, collecting evidence of spouses’ and partners’ adultery or other “bad behaviour” is still one of their most profitable undertakings, as the stakes being fought over now are child custody, alimony, or marital property disputes.
Synonyms for private eye
- private investigatorstar
- bird dogstar
Private investigators can also perform due diligence for an investor considering investing with an investment group, fund manager, or other high-risk business or investment venture. This could help the prospective investor avoid being the victim of a fraud or Ponzi scheme. A licensed and experienced investigator could reveal the investment is risky and/or the investor has a suspicious background.
An undercover investigator, undercover detective, or undercover agent is a person who conducts investigations of suspected or confirmed criminal activity while impersonating a disinterested third party. Undercover investigators often infiltrate a suspected insurgent group, posing as a person interested in purchasing illegal goods or services with the ultimate aim of obtaining information about their assigned target.
Many undercover investigators carry hidden cameras and recorders strapped to their bodies to help them document their investigations. The period of the investigation could last for several months, or in some extreme cases, years. Due to the dangerous nature of the job, their real identities are kept secret throughout their active careers. Economic investigations, business intelligence and information on competitors, security advice, special security services information, criminal investigation, investigations background, and profile polygraph tests are all typical examples of such a role.
Undercover investigators are often misinterpreted as being similar to a police officer or deputy, however, they are quite the opposite. As opposed to a police officer, a private or undercover detective is trained in keeping a low profile, and are under no requirement to wear a uniform or a badge. Police are trained to be direct in their approach unless using a disguised vehicle.