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Technology plays a key role in a private investigator’s business. Private eyes use software and online search tools to conduct investigations and search for records such as criminal histories, divorce records, address histories, driving records, financial records, and more. Private detectives also use various programs and applications (also known as apps) to communicate with with clients, witnesses, business partners and vendors.
Most of the detective applications available today are designed for use on a personal computer. However, many software technology companies are building programs that run on smart phones and tablets via small applications or apps. Programs designed for tablets and cell phones help private investigators run the software they need while out of the office on surveillance missions. Private detectives should do their best to keep up with the latest trends in technology and learn to integrate technology into their operations wherever possible.
Detective software programs that allow private detectives to perform background checks and verify personal information are critical tools. A private investigator can outsource the process to a company that specializes in conducting background checks, employment verification, and fact checking. Alternatively, a private eye can invest in an online service or a private investigator software tool to conduct all or part of the background check themselves. Following are some suggested programs and online services:
- Intelius - Perform background checks, employee verification and conduct public record searches.
- U.S. Search - Perform background investigations, find divorce records, and conduct missing person searches.
- Spokeo People Search - Find address records, divorce records and more.
Private Investigator Software
Following is an overview of the various types of technology tools that private eyes may use during the course of their daily work:
- Case Management Software - Helps helps manage information related to investigation cases such as storing clients records, managing billing information, employee and payroll records, and more. This is particularly useful for larger private investigation agencies and law offices.
- Face Reading - A cool program that allows you to profile a person, business associate, or prospective employee with Face Reading technology.
- Genealogy Search - Detectives use genealogy software to research family histories and build family trees.
- Legal and Law - Legal documents, legal forms, etc.
- Mobile Phone Spying and Forensics - A cell phone spy software tool that allows you to monitor cell phone usage.
- Sex Offender Search - Search for Sexual Offenders
A variety of computer monitoring software is available to assist in conducting computer security investigations, computer forensics and to conduct online surveillance. Investigators that conduct computer crime investigations or computer security investigations should be familiar with general computer programs for task such as business communications, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, data recovery, and security. Following are the leading titles tools for private investigators to monitor PC activity,monitor network activity, and more:
- Computer Monitoring - Monitor locally, and in some cases remotely, the activity of computers.
- Email Spying and Monitoring - Record Incoming and Outgoing Emails
- Keylogger Tools - Programs that log computer keystrokes
- Network Surveillance - Tools for monitoring computer network activity
- Pop-up Blocker Program - A powerful pop-up blocking tool to keep unwanted browser windows from opening.
- Privacy Agent Tool - History Cleaning and File Deletion Software
- Digital Photography & Image Editing - Private detectives are often hired to conduct surveillance, which involves taking photographs and video of subjects, evaluating evidence, or interviewing witnesses and experts. It is often necessary to use digital imaging, graphic design tools, or image processing programs to include images in reports for their clients or to transmit via email. Become familiar with digital photo tools and graphic design to process, catalog, or enhance photos when necessary.
- Real Time Spy - RealTime Spy is a computer monitoring program that allows you to monitor the activity on a personal computer.
- Spam Agent - Email Monitoring and Filtering Software Tool
- Spy Agent - PC Monitoring
- Spy Anywhere Program - Another computer monitoring tool.
- SpyLock Anywhere - Secure Desktop Lockdown and Access Control
- Windows Undelete - Recover deleted Windows files using Windows File Recovery
In addition to programs used for conducting investigations, Private Eyes use a variety of business tools to keep their business running smoothly.
- Anti-Virus - Protect your computers from viruses, malware, and keylogging software used by hackers
- Manage business operations for a private investigation agency
- PC Operating System - Operating systems for PC’s and MAC’s
- Skype Video Chat - Use Skype Video to video chat with clients and even interview witnesses.
- Tax Preparation - File your personal and business taxes.
- Voice Recognition - Voice recognition to help you translate verbal notes into text while you’re on a surveillance mission.
- Web Browsers - A list of the most popular web browsers.
- Web Design - for designing your business website.
Online Search Tools
A variety of online search programs are available to help with looking up information online. The most common private investigator programs search for people, look up addresses and phone numbers, and conduct background investigations. Beware of such programs as Net Detective and Urgent Detective that claim to offer free background check capabilities. They are of little value to the serious professional.
- Net Detective Online - This online detective program claims to help you find everything from criminal records, divorce records, and driving records. However, it is little more than an outdated address search or white pages search tool
- eDetective – Another online search tool that claims to provide free background check capabilities.
- Urgent Detective - Another online search tool that claims to provide free background check capabilities.
We tested each of these services and do not feel they live up to the claim of offering free background check capabilities. You are unlikely to find a legitimate service that provides a truly free background check outside of free public records searches.
- You don’t necessarily need a to be a private eye to use many of these programs. Nor do you need to be licensed. However, some companies may require certain types of various certifications to confirm that you are operating a valid business and need to access information for legitimate business reasons.