Learn how to use Private Investigator Software and Online Services
Technology plays a key role in any investigation business. Detectives use a combination of private investigator software such as online search tools, OSINT resources, computer software, and mobile apps to support many aspects of investigations.
Private investigator software is a general term that encompasses both the programs and applications installed to a computer or web server and online, web-based solutions known as SAAS (Software as a Service), which is a software licensing and delivery model that is offered on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. Users access the service via a web browser on a PC, tablet or mobile device. Also, it includes apps installed on tablets and mobile devices.
Private investigator software can be used to:
- Manage business operations such as accounting, billing, invoicing and customer contact management
- Manage cases, including assignments, case documents, photos, contacts, interview notes, expenses and more.
- Search for public and non-public records such as criminal histories, divorce records, address histories, driving records, financial records, and more.
- Conduct online research and due diligence, download documents, compile dossiers and prepare reports for court cases
- Manage communications with clients, vendors, witnesses, business partners, and other investigators. This includes communication via phone, text, video messaging, walkie-talkie, chat and more.
Following is an overview of the various types of software used by private investigators. We tried to list only the best in each category. Please leave a comment if you have suggestions.
Case Management Software and Online Services
Case Management Software programs help P.I.’s manage information related to investigation cases such as entering and storing client records, managing billing information, employee and payroll records, billing, contacts and more.
The latest case management solutions come in the form of cloud-based services, allowing access via computer, tablet and mobile devices from anywhere in the world. Case management software is particularly useful for larger private investigation agencies and law offices. Below are links to our reviews of several the best industry-leading systems:
Online Background Checks and Public Records Search Databases
There are a number of reputable companies the ability to run background checks online. These online services aggregate billions of public records from a variety of disparate sources. Then, they offer easy online access to allow people to conduct background checks, verify facts and employment history and even find missing people. And, best of all, they are surprisingly affordable.
For example, BeenVerified Background Checks offers plans that start at just over $20 per month. They offer search capabilities for criminal records, arrest records, people searches, address lookup, email lookups and much more. In addition, they provide mobile access via iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
The most powerful databases are offered by companies like LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, Data-Trac, and IRB Search. These companies provide access to billions of public records and agency databases that allow law enforcement and investigators to find missing people, run background checks, solve cases and prevent crimes.
Mobile Phone Tracking Software
Mobile Phone Spy Software is a special type of specialized monitoring app that is used to remotely monitor cell phone use. It allows someone to monitor a user’s behavior on a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
It captures incoming and outgoing calls, text messages, GPS location and tracking, social media use, pictures and videos, and much more. In this section, we review the best cell phone tracking apps.
Computer Forensic Tools
View a list of computer forensic tools that can be used to extract data and information from PCs, laptops and mobile devices.
Mobile Investigation App Reviews
Most of the detective applications available today are designed to run on personal computers, tablets, and mobile devices. To support private investigator’s need for information on the go, technology companies are building programs that run on smartphones and tablets via small apps.
Systems designed for tablets and cell phones help private investigators run the software programs they need while out of the office on surveillance missions or traveling around the globe.
Following are reviews of some of the best mobile apps that are useful for detectives:
- Using Google Maps to Prepare for Surveillance – This article explains how to use both the web-based and mobile versions of Google Maps to research your next surveillance mission. Also, learn how to Use Zillow for Surveillance Research.
- How to Use Google Translate – You never know when your case will lead you to an international destination where you don’t speak the language. Learn how to use Google Translate to help communicate in other languages.
- How to Use the Google Voice App – The Google Voice apps allows you to conduct searches and lookups using only your voice. This can be a useful tool when you’re hands are occupied working other surveillance equipment.
- Learn How to Use Evernote for Recording Case Notes – The Evernote app is a great way to take notes while you’re on the road and have those same notes available on your PC when it comes time to prepare a report.
- SneakyPix for Taking Secret Photos – SneakyPix is an app that will take photos when your phone appears to be off.
- Review of GPS Phone Tracker Pro – The GPS Phone Tracker Pro app allows you to track another person’s whereabouts using their own phone.
- Trustify Network – A technology platform that is used finding and hiring P.I.’s
- CallerSmart – Block unwanted calls and texts
Other Private Investigator Software
Private investigators use other types of specialized private investigator software such as:
- Facial Recognition – An overview of companies that provide facial recognition systems that analyze facial features to identify people and traits.
- Genealogy Search – Detectives use genealogy applications to research family histories, track down long lost relatives, and build a family tree.
- Hunchly – A web capture tool for online investigations.
- Legal and Law – for generating documents, forms, etc.
- Sex Offender Search – Search for predators and criminals in your area.
Computer Monitoring and Keylogger Tools
A variety of computer monitoring software programs are available to assist in conducting investigations, computer forensics and to conduct online surveillance.
Investigators who conduct computer crime investigations or computer security investigations should be familiar with general computer programs for tasks such as business communications, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, data recovery, and security.
The following are private investigator software programs used to monitor PC activity, monitor network activity, and more. Please, note that most of the solutions in the articles below aren’t as powerful as the latest Mobile Phone Spy Software:
- Email Monitoring – Monitor locally, and in some cases remotely, the activity of computers. Also discusses Email Spying and other forensic tools
- Keyloggers – Keylogger tools are programs that log computer keystrokes and record user activity on a computer. For example, parents can use it to keep track of incoming and outgoing messages.
- Network File Monitoring – Designed to monitor and track user activity on a computer network.
- Real Time Spy – RealTime Spy is a computer monitoring program that allows you to monitor the activity on a personal computer.
- Spy Anywhere System – Another computer monitoring tool.
Private investigators deal with the same challenges as any business owner. Therefore, they need to have a strong working knowledge of typical business operating programs. Examples include various Operating Systems, such as Windows, Linux, Mac, etc.
In addition, detectives need to know about productivity software such as Microsoft Office, Google Docs, etc. Other business solutions include:
- Anti-Spam Tools & Resources – Learn how to use spam protection tools to filter your unwanted email and protect your identity.
- Anti-Virus Protection – In today’s age of hacking and scams, it is critical that you protect your computers from viruses, malware, and keylogging software used by hackers.
- 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. We recommend using Google Chrome.
- How to Setup a Website – This article provides advice for establishing an online presence for your investigative business. You’ll find helpful tips on web design software. In addition, we offer suggestions for content management tools. And finally, we suggest some web hosting options.
Online Search Tools and Software to Avoid
A variety of online search programs are available to help with looking up information online. The most common private investigator systems 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 – Yet, another online search tool that claims to provide free background check capabilities. However, it is simply a scam. We do not recommend its use.
- 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. Most of these are simply free (and weak) public records searches.
You don’t necessarily need to be a private eye to use many of these programs and apps. 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 have a need to access information for legitimate business reasons.
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions about private investigator software, please leave a comment in the pages’ comment section. View a list of all of the posts in this category.