Five Common Cases Private Investigators Handle

Private investigators serve an important role. They often handle cases that are not taken care of by other professionals but that serve an important function in the justice or corporate system. Some of the common cases that private investigators take include:

Background Checks
Many private investigators offer background checks with their list of services. Background checks examine a person’s history, and may reveal critical information, such as a person’s criminal history, credit, address history, professional history and social connections. A background check may be used for employment purposes or acceptance into a housing complex. Background checks may also be conducted when a person gets romantically involved with another person and wants to check if he or she has any skeletons in the closet. More robust background checks may be used to help provide security clearance to an individual.


A primary reason why someone may hire a private investigator is to have this person conduct surveillance on a target. A person may require surveillance if he or she believes another person is trying to harm him or her, such as checking for a stalker or an abusive ex. Surveillance may also be ordered in civil investigations, such as when an insurance company is attempting to acquire evidence about a person who alleges a serious injury. Cases may involve workers’ compensation, personal injury, corporate fraud, infidelity suspicions and others.

Family Law Matters
Another common reason to hire a private investigator is for a family law matter. Private investigators may be hired in order to gather evidence to use in a civil trial, such as a divorce or child custody battle. They may also be hired to help find a missing person or relocate adopted family members. Private investigators are often used in the divorce context for purposes such as locating hidden assets in a divorce or finding assets if a parent owes child support or spousal support. If a person is receiving alimony, his or her ex-spouse may hire a private investigator to see if the spouse is living with a new romantic partner if this is grounds to terminate spousal support.
Infidelity Investigations

Private investigators may be contacted to investigate suspicions of a cheating spouse. Infidelity investigations are often requested because a person does not know whether a spouse is cheating or not and wants an objective person to conduct surveillance and an investigation to determine if the person’s partner is being unfaithful. Often, a person must witness infidelity with his or her own eyes to believe that a partner is unfaithful. He or she may be reassured frequently of faithfulness only to confirm the opposite.

Read more about the life of an investigator at New York Times.

Various Investigations
Private investigators must often investigate a variety of cases. These investigations are often diverse in nature. Some investigations may involve insurance companies, including car, home, workers’ compensation and life insurance. These investigators may be able to find information that would otherwise go unknown. Investigators may find that people have committed insurance fraud or are attempting to sabotage a business partner or shareholder.

Other cases may involve a close scrutiny of business practices or looking into domestic helpers for abuse or theft. Corporate investigations may look into the legitimacy of a business partner, the loss of information and how it occurred or what people are saying about an owner behind his or her back.
How Private Investigators Work

Private investigators often use a variety of tools to help aid in their investigations. They may use special databases only available to law enforcement or investigators. They may check social media outlets for information concerning a fugitive’s whereabouts or to find someone to conduct process service. They may interview a person’s neighbors and colleagues to conduct a thorough investigation. They may also review electronic and printed documents to locate assets, perform skip traces or to uncover new information. Surveillance may be used to try to keep track of a subject’s movements and transactions.

In addition to finding information, private investigators may assist in other ways. They may provide reports that indicate the type of information found. They may provide photographs or video surveillance. They may testify at court hearings as to what they observed.