What does a private investigator really do?

Posted by Vendor Assurance Technologies LLC on October 22, 2019

When people think of private investigators, many might first think of the Hollywood version of a PI they’ve seen in the movies or on TV. That could mean late-night stakeouts with cars full of fast food wrappers and a smoke-filled office hidden away in an old building. Some might think more of high-tech tools and sneaky tactics to track subjects via GPS, or perhaps they envision picking locks and jumping fences in the dark of night.

As you can probably imagine, that’s not really how most private investigators operate. Here’s a quick look at what a PI really does.

What Private Investigators Do

Follow the rules

Private investigators must know and follow the laws in their state during the process of investigating. That means no breaking and entering, no trespassing on private property, and no illegal use of wire-tapping or other such methods to gather information. Information gathered illegally isn’t going to hold up in a hearing or in court, plus it could get the PI in trouble, so a good PI will know the rules and follow them.

Collect information

Regardless of what type of case they’re investigating, the PI’s job is to collect information. That could mean running basic background checks, monitoring someone’s social media posts, or doing surveillance to see if the subject’s faking a workplace injury or operating shady business deals. It’s the PI’s job to collect the information and report it back to the client.

Read and complete lots of paperwork

The collecting information stage of some investigations requires a lot of sorting through paperwork, and then there’s a lot of paperwork involved in sharing that information with the client who hired the PI. Depending on the type of case, the report could be going to an insurance company, a law firm, or a judge, and there are different requirements for each when it comes to reporting information.

While most Hollywood portrayals of private investigators show them as the hero saving the day, the truth is a lot of investigations confirm that there’s no fraud or foul play happening. When that’s the case, claims payments or other proceedings can simply proceed on schedule while the investigator moves on to the next case.

If you’re a risk manager, claims manager, or other professional working with multiple private investigators, the VenAssure platform can help you keep track of all your investigations in one central location. Reach out to us today for a demo.


VenAssure is not a private investigation agency. We’re a pure technology platform that allows companies and investigators to connect and manage all inbound and outbound communications. Find local investigation agencies, manage vendor assignments, and protect sensitive claimant data with VenAssure, the hub for insurance fraud investigations.