Legalities of a Private Investigator

We get a lot of enquiries usually from private clients asking if we can carry out certain services.
A lot of the time it involves trying to catch a cheating partner and we get asked to carry out illegal services.

Usually this is a quite innocent request from the prospective client and we then go on to tell them that the service they require is illegal and then explain to them the reasons why it is illegal.

A lot of the time they have seen things on the TV and believe that any self respecting Private eye should be able to carry out such a request with no issues and all they are interested in is how much will it cost.

telephone hacking

The most common illegal request we get asked for is can we hack into a partners phone to read their text and whatsapp messages. Also a log of all calls made or received.

We can not do this as it is a breach of data protection. To do so we would have to get hold of the phone anyway and if your partner is having an affair the phone will be locked with a pin and will be glued to them 24/7.

Another request we are asked for is requests for bank statements. Again this is illegal and and a severe breach of data that we will not get involved in.

Installing hidden cameras is another requested service. Yes this can be done if it is your house or office with good reason such as to catch a thief but we will draw the line at installing surveillance cameras in your bedrooms.

Can we obtain criminal records? Only with the consent of the person you want checking and then they have to send off for the certificate and not us.

You want the details of the owner of a car you saw driving away hurriedly from your house as you arrived home early from work? Sorry again this cannot be done legally.

However, as we are ABI members we can do searches if the enquiry meets any of the following criteria.

Payment default: Documentary evidence is held to show that the Vehicle Lessee has breached their payment obligations or defaulted. The Vehicle Lessor needs vehicle keeper details to recover the payment, repossess the vehicle or both.

Change of keeper: Documentary evidence is held that the vehicle Lessor’s vehicle is being kept by another person contrary to the terms of the vehicle lease agreement or a notification has been received that there has been a change of vehicle keeper.

Breach of terms and conditions: Documentary evidence is held that the Terms and Conditions of the vehicle lease agreement have been breached by the vehicle Lessee.

Fraud: Documentary evidence is held that the vehicle Lessee has given false information at the time the vehicle lease agreement was taken out or that the vehicle lessee is involved in fraudulent activity in relation to the vehicle lease agreement.

Hit and run – an unidentified third party vehicle/driver has been involved in a hit and run incident with the Customer’s insured person/client. The driver of the third party vehicle did not stop or report the accident or give information and documents to the insured person/client.

Damage to vehicle– the Customer has received a claim that an unidentified third party vehicle/driver was involved in a road traffic incident where direct damage occurred to their insured person’s/client’s vehicle.

Death or Personal Injury – the Customer has reason to believe that the third party vehicle was involved in a road traffic incident and caused death or personal injury their insured person/client or their passengers’; or damage to their insured person’s/client’s vehicle and the insured person/client has submitted a claim for payment in respect of that damage.
Damage to property – the Customer has received a claim that an unidentified third party vehicle/driver was involved in a road traffic incident where damage was caused to their insured person’s/client’ property by a vehicle.

Fraud– the Customer has received a claim and needs to establish the keeper(s)/driver(s) of the third party vehicle(s) where there is a reason to suspect or there is specific documentary evidence that the third party has given false information or has made a representation when they gave their details.

Shunting or swerving – the Customer has received a claim that an unidentified third party vehicle/driver caused damage as a result of shunting a vehicle or causing a vehicle to swerve into their insured person’s/clients property.

Suspected cloned vehicle – the Customer needs to establish whether a vehicle that is suspected to have been cloned on inspection, is registered to the policyholder/client, following an insurance claim.

Credit hire claim fraud – the Customer needs to check the vehicle keeper of a hire vehicle where a credit hire claim is suspected to be fraudulent and not owned by hire company.
Staged incident/crash for cash fraud – the Customer has received a claim and believes the incident has been staged to make a fraudulent claim. They require vehicle keeper details of their insured person/client or the third party.

Insurance Policy Default – the Customer needs to establish ownership of vehicles related to a third-party claim where the policy of the “at fault” driver has fallen into default and the policyholder is not traceable.

Ghost Broking – the Customer has evidence that the keeper of a vehicle has been a victim of Ghost Broking and need to be advised that their insurance is invalid.

You maybe thinking that there is not a lot that a private investigator can do for you and that we have our hands tied. In some respects you maybe right but in others we have less restrictions than government bodies who are bound in red tape such as RIPA which means they need authority to carry out surveillance in any form where as we do not.

We do however, have to adhere to the data protection act 2018 and have to have a valid reason to place anyone under surveillance or carry out any trace enquiries.

A valid reason would be that we have exhausted all other lines of enquiry or other options are not available to achieve our goal.
In the case of a trace request we would have to be confident that the trace would not end up in the person being traced will come to any harm as a result of what we hand over to the client and that the reason for carrying out the trace is a valid one.

If you are wondering if any services we are can offer you are legal or not please give us a call to discuss as there is usually a legal option to obtain the result you are after.

© M.R.Investigations January 2019.

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