How are private investigators illegal?

How are private investigators illegal?

How are private investigators illegal? Well, it turns out there are a number of ways and you probably haven’t thought of many of them. In fact, even attorneys don’t consider all the ways a private investigator could be either operating illegally, or illegally obtaining evidence. We’ll answer the question, “How are private investigators illegal?”. Read on….

1. Unlicensed Activity

For actual professional private investigators who hold a valid license, discovery a so-called private investigator is unlicensed is very aggravating. Unlicensed private investigators are operating illegally but sometimes even police officers are unaware this is a crime. 

Attorneys also rarely check to see whether a private investigator is properly licensed in the jurisdiction they practice in. Often, attorneys make the mistake of allowing evidence into a case that was obtained by an unlicensed private investigator. 

2. Are private investigators illegal if....

Let’s examine some of the most common questions regarding how private investigators are illegal in their actions and their activities. Let’s go through them one by one: 

Are private investigators illegal if they don’t hold a valid private investigator’s license?  – in all but 5 states, the answer is YES. Unlicensed means illegal. 

Are private investigators illegal if they tap your phone?  – Yes. There are only a very few instances where a private investigator can legally tap your phone or install software on your phone. We discuss some of these ways here

Are private investigators illegal if follow you for no reason? YesPrivate investigators need a valid legal reason to follow you. Although, their license allows them to place anyone under surveillance, they generally need a valid legal purpose to do so. 

Are private investigators illegal if they place a GPS tracker on your car? It depends. Even some private investigators and many attorneys are misinformed on this one. Each state has specific laws that describe what a private investigator can and can’t do illegally. Check with your attorney if you’re not sure, or call a professional private investigator and ask them what the law allows. 

Are private investigators illegal if they go to unreasonable lengths to obtain evidence? Yes. Everyone has a what’s known as “a reasonable expectation of privacy”. If a private investigator goes to unreasonable lengths to obtain evidence such as climbing a wall, or installing unapproved hidden cameras, they are most likely breaking the law. 

Are private investigators illegal if they break the law? Yes. Private investigators are bound by the same laws every other citizen has to abide by. They are not exempt from local, state or federal laws. 

Are private investigators illegal if conduct an investigation on YOU? Maybe, maybe not. So long as the private investigator has a lawful, legal purpose for investigating you, they are most likely not doing anything illegal.   

Are private investigators illegal if [insert your question here]? Every case is different. Every person is different and every situation they find themselves in is slightly different. No two cases are the same. If you have concerns about are private investigators illegal in your particular situation, you can check it out in the following ways: 

Call the police – if you think a private investigator is acting illegally, call the police. If the private investigator is acting legally they’ll either tell you, or confirm with the private investigator that all is well. 

Call an attorney – attorneys are supposed to know the law and if you call an attorney, you should be able to get a straight answer as to whether a private investigator is operating illegally. 

The truth is, most private investigators operate in a legal, professional fashion and are careful not to conduct illegal activities. Their license, and the livelihoods of their employees (if they have any) depend on them operating in an ethical and legal fashion. That’s not to say there aren’t rogue private investigators out there. Make sure you don’t deal with one if and when you have a need for a private investigator. 


If you want to to have a no-obligation discussion with a professional, caring private investigator who can share the answer to “How are private investigators illegal?”, then just call (800) 867-3930 and speak to someone who will be happy to answer any questions you have. There’s no obligation. If you are looking for an affordable licensed private investigator in Atlanta with 20 years of experience assisting individuals, attorneys and corporations feel free to contact us here. You can also view a portion of our extensive client list here, and see here what actual clients say about Eagle Investigative Services a private investigator in Atlanta, Georgia.

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