What Your Private Investigator Friend Won’t Tell You

You might think that it would be exciting to have a friend in the Private Investigations industry. You might expect stories of dangerous assignments, criminals being taken down, and little old ladies getting justice after getting ripped off.

In reality, you might not hear anything exciting from your dear friend the PI. That’s because confidentiality is the main priority in our work, and common-sense rules for NOT spilling the beans. After all, if a PI can’t keep the lips sealed, then he or she is not too easily trusted by clients wishing their cases to be discreet. Also, informants would have to be lunatics to help out a PI who will carelessly brag and accidentally reveal anything that would help a private citizen figure out details about a case.

So here are five things a PI friend will never tell you.

  1. If he’s doing something dangerous.

A Private Investigator’s never going to tell you when he’s taking risks. It might be tempting, because we’d all love to have backup, but in reality, the untrained so-called backup is more likely to make matters worse. The best defense is melting into the background.

  1. Who she’s working for.

Clients demand confidentiality. And they won’t refer any friends to you if you’ve got the “gift of the gab.” New clients often sign contracts and normally confidentiality agreements or Non Disclosure Agreements form part of it.

  1. Who or what he’s investigating.

Expecting to hear a lot of stories? Don’t be disappointed when they don’t come. For reasons of safety, efficiency, and confidentiality, you won’t hear about cases.

  1. Exact locations where she’s been.

Again, this makes sense. If the PI starts revealing where she’s going, then you nosy friends might just decide to drop by! That would be a disaster, as any “visitors” would definitely draw attention to the PI. The other danger is that even with only a location, some people can figure out too many details about what’s going on.

  1. When he’ll be back.

The PI doesn’t even know when he’ll be back. PI’s will sometimes have to go to extremes to stay on the job very long hours with no breaks for surveillance work. Or, if a trail is really hot, a PI never knows how much time he’ll spend tracking it down.

Okay, those are some of the main things you’ll never get out of your PI friend. And here are five things he or she can tell you (WARNING: these are not nearly so interesting):

  1. Where she got licensed or qualified.

This is public information, so there’s no problem revealing this “not very juicy” detail.

  1. When his license is up for renewal.

Again, a boring bureaucratic detail like this is not only fully available for discussion, but equally sleep inducing.

  1. Funny stories that don’t reveal any confidential information.

Yes, a PI can tell you funny, generic stories about things that happened on the job, as long as they don’t lead to any detail. Of course, sometimes the punchline will have to be omitted for confidentiality’s sake.

  1. What he testified to in open court.

Once a case has been in open court and reported in the paper, and your friend’s name and picture have been published, he can tell you what he said. However, you’ve already read about it in the paper.

  1. What her specialty is.

Your close-lipped PI friend can tell you that she specializes in tax, child custody, car theft, or any of a number of specialties. But even there, depending on the specialty, she might be reluctant. Freedom to operate without anyone’s attention is a valuable commodity in this line of work.

Makes you wonder how PI’s get any friends, doesn’t it?

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About the Author

IPIA's Director of Investigations is an Indonesian national with a Diploma in PI work (with distinction) from the UK and an Australian Government accredited Certificate in Investigative Services. She has worked on over 400 cases for private and business clients.