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In every investigator’s most pleasant dreams, we have access to loads of information that would, quite simply, make our lives so much easier.

But what would be the fun in that?

There are a number of things that make a private investigator’s job interesting. For one, every case and every day are different, so that keeps you on your toes. But what makes it the most interesting is that we have to come up with creative ways to help our clients. But I digress.

Much of the information below may be available with either the person’s consent or through a court order, but in my most pleasant dreams, none of that would be necessary.

1Financial Institution Records

I want them all. Credit card statements, bank statements, 401k records, 529 savings, locations of any safety deposit boxes, Swiss bank accounts, and even the code for your piggy bank.

2Travel Records

Not only do I want a copy of your entire passport, but I also want your travel records from the U.S. Department of State and your border crossing records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. While we’re at it, I want records from your cell phone’s GPS data that could show me where you have been going minute by minute.

3Cell Phone

The cell phone has become ubiquitous to practically everyone in the United States and most of the rest of the world. It literally holds the key to a person’s universe. I want a full, unencrypted copy of your cell phone data so that I can see every app, swipe, and photo.

4Text Messages

While encrypted messaging apps are becoming more and more popular, text messaging is still the preferred form of communication for most people. Even people who should know better not to send unencrypted text messages do so on pretty much a daily basis.

5Social Media Accounts

Social media is like a playground for investigators. But underneath what is publicly available, there is a treasure trove of information.

6Internet Search History

You ever hear of the bank robber who Googled “how to rob a bank” before committing a crime? Or the murder suspect who coincidentally looked up satellite imagery of the site where law enforcement found the body and body decomposition rates?

As a side note, if anyone ever looks up my search history, it was all in the name of work.

I swear.

7Phone Calls

I know. Most people just don’t make phone calls anymore. When I hear my phone ring, I cringe at the idea of picking it up. But there is still a group of people from a certain generation who use the phone constantly. And I know that these phone calls are not being recorded, but that would be really convenient too.

8Mind Reader

I’m probably asking for too much.

OK, I know I’m asking for too much.

But it would be nice.

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8 replies
  1. Bruce Graham
    Bruce Graham says:

    Brian – You accurately present the degree of creativity an investigator needs to bring to each client’s issue. The work is always challenging, sometimes fun, and emotionally-rewarding when we bring them a solution to a festering problem. Thank you for your articles!

    After focusing on investigations for over 40 years, I now use my creative problem-solving skills to proactively help people with their real estate, tax and other financial issues. And it’s still rewarding!

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