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13 Things A Private Investigator Cant Do

Author : Michael Date : 01/07/2019 Category : Private Investigation Comment : 0

1.         Hack a phone, social media account, email, and etc.


This is a no and is highly illegal unless carried out by a state or government agency or if you had permission from the owner. This is probably the number one question that private investigators get asked and is not legally in our power to do.

2.         Impersonate law enforcement

Private Investigators cannot carry a badge, wear a uniform or say anything that might imply that the private investigator is a police officer or federal agent.  This is solely for the reason of not allowing a PI’s to mislead people into believing that they’re anyway associated with any law enforcement agency.


3.         Make an arrest

Private Investigators cannot legally make an arrest. If there is evidence that suggests an arrest should be made the investigator should contact law enforcement.  Plain and simple, private investigators are not law enforcement but however in some states citizen’s arrest are capable of being made. A citizen’s arrest can be made when you find a person in the act of committing a crime or after finding out that person committed a crime and arrest them within a reasonable time period after the committed crime.


4.         Place a GPS tracker on someone’s car (Unless………….)

Unless you receive consent from the owner or the car you want to be tracked is registered in your name, then private investigators legally can’t do this. So, for example, a husband wants to track a car his wife drives. A GPS tracker can be placed, if the title of the car is in the husband’s name and consent to track is given by the husband.


5.         Cell phone pinging or tracking


Private investigators can’t use a cell phone to ping someone’s location. Just turning your cell phone will reveal where you’re located by a “ping” from a local cell phone tower. Everywhere you travel and if your cell phone is on a “ping” will be made to a local tower to identify your whereabouts. This HOWEVER is personal data and cell phone tracking by anyone other than the owner or without the owner’s consent is illegal.


6.         Trespassing


Private Investigators cannot break and enter onto private property.  Private investigators can’t break and enter because this will be a violation of the law, similar to law enforcement they need permission before entering. Trespassing laws vary by state but most of the time a private investigator needs permission from the owner to trespass on their property.


7.         Wiretapping

Wiretapping is illegal without a proper warrant. Private Investigators cannot tap a phone.  Federal laws state that you need consent from at least one person on the line before a wiretap can be placed. In most situations, a warrant is needed before a tap can be placed and in instances such as those a private investigator would work alongside law enforcement to avoid breaking the law.


8.         Operate without a license

This varies by the state because in some states you’re not required to have a license to operate as a private investigator. However, in some states, an investigator must first meet licensing requirements before they can work as a licensed private investigator. For example in Arizona, an investigator must have at least three years of investigative work before they can work as a licensed PI.


9.         Tamper with someone’s mail or mailbox

A private investigator cannot tamper with someone’s mail. They’re not allowed to remove your mail or prevent you from getting your mail out of your mailbox. This is actually a federal crime and the obstruction of delivery of mail, receiving mail, and removing of mail can be a hefty crime.


Mail Tamepring

10.     Run a credit check

A private investigator cannot run your credit without your consent, a credit report is considered private information. The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that credit can be provided to another party if a legit need is for it but consent is still needed.


11.     Run a license plate (Without Reason)

A private investigator cannot run a license plate without reason, there must be a legal reason to do so. A valid reason for running someone’s plates can include for investigative purposes, future court proceeding, and etc.


12.     Film someone through a window to a Private Home

Private Investigators are allowed to film actions that take place in public, but of private property through an open window, they’re not allowed to film.


13.     Break the law

A private investigator cannot break the law. That includes harassment, trespassing, bribery, hacking, deceitful methods for obtaining information, and cannot break the law on behalf of their client for investigative purposes.

So what can a private an investigator actually do? Click  Here  for are a few things that a private investigator CAN do.




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