dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
5457
share rss forum feed


Styvas
Go Canucks Go
Premium
join:2004-09-15
Hamilton, ON

Private investigators -- what can and can't they do?

A friend and I were talking about private investigators the other day in the context of a mutual friend whose father-in-law had hired one to spy on him. It got me wondering what PIs really do in their investigations.

Presumably they talk to friends, family, and neighbours, etc. of the person being investigated. Do they have access to criminal records? Are there regulations on how they can represent themselves and how they can approach others and the kinds of questions they can ask?

Obviously, a shady PI would do whatever they wanted to do and say whatever was necessary to obtain the info they need. But what about a reputable PI (if that even exists -- I've never really looked into it)?

Can someone lay charges against a PI for invasion of privacy, slander, etc., or against the person who hired him/her?
--
"Moving your Tylenol to the low shelf in your medicine cabinet is not the way to prevent children from falling off a stool when reaching for the top shelf." (said by Savant, May 2008)

Check out the »Primus TalkBroadband VoIP FAQ.


dirtyjeffer
Anons on ignore, but not due to fear.
Premium
join:2002-02-21
London, ON
i think they just "tail" you, hide in the background and perhaps take pictures/etc of what you are doing...my buddy's old place of work dealt with them once in a while to investigate people on workers comp claims...you know, the ones who are bed ridden and unable to work, yet have no problems putting up a new roof, playing football with the guys, etc...it's a classic example of people showing you what they want you to see and not showing you what they don't want you to see.
--
Only when the last tree is cut, only when the last river is polluted, only when the last fish is caught, will they realize that you can't eat money - Native American proverb


lugnut

@look.ca
reply to Styvas
I really don't know any more than the average Joe who's watched a lot of cop shows over the years but the reality these days is that there is virtually no privacy left.

Any talented computer geek can bring up way more data about anyone these days just by sitting in front of the internet for a couple of hours than anyone should have a right to.

Privacy laws do exist in Canada but enforcing them would probably bring more of your private life to public record than anyone could stomach


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to dirtyjeffer
said by dirtyjeffer:

i think they just "tail" you, hide in the background and perhaps take pictures/etc of what you are doing...

That's exactly what most of them do, the 'professional' ones that are hired by companies like insurance companies. An innocuous subtle method of investigation.

I've never heard of a professional investigative service committing any acts that could be considered slander.


investigate

@teksavvy.com
reply to Styvas
OP, research here:

"Private Information Investigator" licence look-up:
»www.consumerbeware.mgs.gov.on.ca···ormsId=0

PI's seem to be regulated/governed by Ministry of Consumer Services (Consumer Protection Branch).

See also:
"Private Security & Investigative Services
News and Updates

Special Notice – May 26, 2011

Requirement for Licensed Individuals to Carry Their Licenses

The Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005 (PSISA) requires that a private investigator or a security guard to hold the appropriate license under the Act. An individual who presents themselves as a security guard or private investigator and does not have the appropriate license is in violation of the PSISA and may be subject to charges.

The status of an individual’s license can be checked at »secure.psisbtesting.ca. This list is updated daily. Only individuals appearing on this list are considered to be licensed under PSISA.

The PSISA requires private investigators or security guards to carry their license and, upon request, identify themselves by showing the license card that has been issued to them. An individual who fails to produce his or her license upon request is in violation of the PSISA and may be subject to charges. "

»www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/···sec.html
("Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services")

I'd call the Registrar (ministry of consumer affairs) and start asking around there if I had any questions.

peterboro
Avatars are for posers
Premium
join:2006-11-03
Peterborough, ON
reply to Styvas
They are licenced and regulated in Ontario and most are former cops. Just like when they were cops they push boundaries up to what is legal but for the most part not having to worry about the Charter or other legal impediments. When they are involved with an individual they will notify the local police as a courtesy. A few years back I had a lovely time tormenting a bunch of private investigators that an insurance company unleashed on me.

PS. nothing beats the charm of Rockford though.

ForeverBlind

join:2003-11-27
Mississauga, ON
I am a Private Investigator now, but we just do work for insurance companies, so things are kept pretty non-shady.

We do have access to various databases, but not criminal records. Court records are public though so anyone can see them.

A lot of PIs (with other companies, of course) do occasionally misrepresent themselves to get information. It is required of the job as the only information they usually get is a name and an address from years ago. They have to find information without making it obvious who they are. Works sometimes, not so much other times.

For example, if they got a lead on a possible workplace for a subject, they might call up and use a pretext to find out if you're working there. Saying 'I am a PI, does Mr. Smith work there' is no good, because the person on the phone will probably just tell the subject.

But as a PI, most things are discovered during surveillance or prior to during the background searches.


Styvas
Go Canucks Go
Premium
join:2004-09-15
Hamilton, ON
Interesting! Here's a quote from a PI company site related to the sort of thing that my friend was subjected to by his father-in-law.

Background For Family Members:
Often our children or siblings become involved in affairs of the heart where they are unable to see the forest for the trees. They become involved with persons who we can see clearly are not appropriate, who may try to isolate them from family and who use them financially or in others ways without proper concern. The task, which is often difficult, is to make our family member see the reality of the situation. Often they are unwilling to do so without compelling evidence. Through various investigative techniques, [we] can build a case that you can present to your family member that shows this person in the true light of day.

What sort of things would a PI do and what sort of databases would s/he access to obtain the kind of information that is being advertised as obtainable here. Obviously, surveillance would uncover infidelity or current inappropriate behaviour that isn't in the presence of the significant other. But there must be other investigative techniques than merely watching the target.

If you, as a PI, were hired to obtain the kind of information above, what would you do and where would you look? With whom would you speak? How would you present yourself to the people that you are interviewing? What kind of privacy legislation applies to a PI doing an investigation?
--
"Moving your Tylenol to the low shelf in your medicine cabinet is not the way to prevent children from falling off a stool when reaching for the top shelf." (said by Savant, May 2008)

Check out the »Primus TalkBroadband VoIP FAQ.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
said by Styvas:

But there must be other investigative techniques than merely watching the target.

You may be underestimating the amount of information you can gain simply by watching a person and their associates. As far direct communications, the information is gained through soft methods of social engineering.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
reply to Styvas
What you can "do", and what one gets away doing are two very different things.

A good PI knows how to bend rules without getting caught.

I've seen everything from installation of remote monitoring software to line taps. Now what can be used as testimony - whole other story.


Xstar_Lumini

join:2008-12-14
Canada
kudos:2
reply to Styvas
If these PI's cannot tap the phone lines of a residense or are not capable of going undercover posing as other people to get info for me then they are wothless and a sham, I can tail my wife and take pics myself without the need to pay these bozos $600 or $1000 a day.


EUS
Kill cancer
Premium
join:2002-09-10
canada
Reviews:
·voip.ms
reply to Styvas
First they drive their Ferrari around to gather clues.
Then their bookie friend gets some dirt on the suspect.
When the suspect gets wind of the investigation and tries to flee, finally the P.I.'s pilot buddy from 'nam who's got a helicopter aids in capturing the suspect.
It's very exciting.
But being ever vigilant, they must watch out for the dobie's.
--
~ Project Hope ~


Hydraglass
Premium
join:2002-05-08
Kingston, ON
reply to Styvas
One of the unmentioned but most commonly used methods of information retrieval done by PI's is "trash diving" - by watching what a person throws out and puts on the curb, a lot of information can be gleaned. Think about what you threw out between all of your trash cans and recycling bins over the last month - and now assume that a PI picked through every single last scrap there. They are legally allowed to do so - once trash is on the curb it's no longer considered private property.

They typically have access to several vehicles so they can put surveillance on a house or apartment as well as follow someone and not be as obvious as you would while doing it in the same vehicle day after day.

They will have telephones that provide false caller-id so they could call your employer, your house, or your family, and pretend to be someone such as a debt collector, an old friend, a schoolmate looking to reconnect for a reunion, etc. to collect information on where you might currently be working, where you are spending your time, etc...

There are all sorts of techniques used (in addition to all of the publicly available databases some free, some subscription based) there are subscription service information databases specifically for PI use with material available from various sources.


Styvas
Go Canucks Go
Premium
join:2004-09-15
Hamilton, ON
I never had the chance to ask my friend more about his experience, so I don't know for sure what aspect of the investigation of which he might have been personally aware. His father-in-law was trying to get his daughter to break up with my friend, so would have been trying to get dirt on him that would convince her that he was bad news. Obviously (since they still married), he was unable to obtain the information he thought might have been hidden.

What worries me in a situation like I've described would be the impact on the reputation of the person being investigated. If I were a PI trying to dig up info on someone's past (for example), I'm hardly going to call up a neighbour or friend and say "Hi, I'm a private investigator trying to find out if so and so is a bad person. Can you help me out with this?" Rather, I'd make up some cover story that would create a willingness on the part of the friend or neighbour to cooperate.

So I might say that I'm doing an investigation into allegations of abuse and I wonder if they might be able to provide me with any helpful information. Since there is no actual abuse (or actual allegations of it) there is nothing, likely, that the friend or neighbour could provide. But now they have it in their head that their friend might be abusive, even if they weren't aware of it.

Or perhaps, based on the cover story, the person now thinks that their friend might have cheated on their partner, or committed fraud, or whatever it is that the investigator is angling at. That's why I asked if there were ways that a PI could be pursued for defamation of character (I think I said slander, but I meant defamation).

I realize that investigations for court purposes have a higher burden of proof and accountability, but we're not talking about that kind of investigation. I'm talking about a situation where a family member is trying to dig up dirt on someone to present to their daughter/son/spouse/whoever. The investigator doesn't have to worry about the information holding up in court, so it seems to me that they can use whatever slimy approach they want, and to hell with the reputation of the target.
--
"Moving your Tylenol to the low shelf in your medicine cabinet is not the way to prevent children from falling off a stool when reaching for the top shelf." (said by Savant, May 2008)

Check out the »Primus TalkBroadband VoIP FAQ.