Despite what most people think, private investigators don't have access to top-secret information such as your text messages, internet history, or FBI file. Generally speaking, private investigators have no more rights or privileges than ordinary citizens. This often brings the question, "Why not just do the investigating myself?"
But, before you bust out the spy gear, it is important to understand that there are a few things that make a private investigator different from an ordinary citizen.
While private investigators do not have access to the private, non-public information as you might have thought, a licensed investigator does have access to databases that are not available to the public. These databases are an invaluable resource for private investigators trying to gather information for a case. They have millions of data points, including address histories along with individual identifiers such as dates of birth or Social Security numbers - not only that but they also contain public records like criminal records & civil lawsuits.
While there are tons of consumer investigative databases that provide access to similar information, these databases are often out-of-date, incomplete, inaccurate, or lack important data. This means you could be missing out on vital information related to your case.
While you could choose not to hire a lawyer and represent yourself in court, it is not always a good idea, especially if you have a lot at stake. Instead of representing themselves, people choose to hire a lawyer because of their vast knowledge of the legal system and in-court experience.
Hiring a private investigator is no different. A good private investigator has years of experience and know-how in investigative work as well as knowledge of law and litigation. All this knowledge and experience will help you get the facts or evidence you need quicker and more accurately than you'll be able to do on your own.
Knowing where to find and dig up information is what investigators do. While you may be able to dig up some information on your own, the experience an investigator has from handling a multitude of cases just can’t be duplicated.
Physical surveillance, cybersecurity, forensic accounting, and fraud examination are just a few specialties within the investigative field. These specialties are developed over years of practice and experience. While one investigator may not be an expert in all areas of investigation, they certainly have a network of other investigators that are experts in these different areas that they could call on at a moment's notice.