Everyone thinks they’re a private investigator these days. Find a phone number owner? Automatic PI. Learn a few things about your coworker’s online boyfriend? Obviously, you must be a PI. But that’s not how it works… that’s now how this business works at all.
I’ve seen people offer to research information about stranger’s boyfriends that turn up some shocking information. Then they post it on public forums. As if that’s not enough, they go on to say they can find anything about anyone and to just get in touch with them. I’ve seen people offer to stalk someone’s partner or set them up in a public place. That is downright frightening.
Amateur sleuths can be quite harmful to licensed private investigators. We have taken the time to get the education, state licensure, insurance, and other requirements. Private investigators in Texas are required to have their business license on their website and business card. Without this, you can’t legally be a private investigator.
Beware of anyone claiming to be a private investigator without a license. Impersonating a licensed PI and soliciting work without a license can bring on serious fines and even jail time. Moreover, the evidence isn’t admissible in court if it’s taken by an unlicensed professional. You should also beware of anyone who is advertising themselves as a licensed Texas private investigator who says they work for a company. In some cases, registrants – those licensed to work only under the businesses to which they are registered – advertise their services on Craigslist and other websites.
Every state has different regulations governing the private investigations industry. In Texas, private investigators are regulated by the Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau. A person must have at least three years of experience or higher education. They also must pass a written exam, and show proof of liability insurance.
Additionally, you must not have been convicted of:
- any class A or equivalent misdemeanor;
- Class B within the last five years;
- and have no current Class A misdemeanors.
No registered sex offender is allowed to become a licensed PI. You also can’t be a PI if you were dishonorably discharged from the military.
Anyone who isn’t a private investigator who claims to be able to find information about anyone is simply not being honest. PIs have access to databases only licensed professionals can use.
Police officers and other government officers are considered public investigators. Unlike private investigators, they don’t purchase their own equipment or own their own businesses. They do, however, have access to privileged information that PIs don’t.