Private Investigator Tools
What tools do private investigators use, and what might we recommend that is transferable to everyday people? We will talk about a few of the myriads of tools. Please know this is just a highlight that can help normal people live a more private life.
What Private Investigators May Use
Since we cannot speak for all private detectives, we will speak about what we use in our own investigative services firm.
Back in the day (early 90s when we started) it was binoculars, camera with 35mm film, long range lense, notepad, and if you were lucky, and I was, a set of night vision optics.
Binoculars, Night Vision, Hidden Camera, Film Camera
Once armed with these basic tools a license private investigation services detective was in business. Eventually the computer became an important tool as well. But these tools that we used in the 80s through to the beginning of 2000s were staple tools of the trade.
Modern Private Investigation Tools
Suffice it to say that the sky is the limit. Whether it is the type of surveillance equipment a private investigator uses, the data they access to perform background checks the equipment and resources for private investigators has changed. Equipment for private investigators has become increasingly more complex, smaller, and more capable. The modern private eye has more for tracing and documenting than any licensed private investigator in history.
What We Use For Surveillance Equipment In Our Investigative Services Agency
Believe it or not the camera phone has proven to be the most useful. Why? Because it is an all-in-one tool that allows many private investigators to access a good camera, phone, online data, messaging and note taking all in one!
Another strong advantage is that the phone is innocuous. There is no threat when one sees a phone. We may follow someone into a park or a grocery store and the phone is as natural as anything else. It can sit in a shirt pocket and record video, or be held to obtain discreet photos. It is a brilliant piece of kit, and a private investigator should be sure to have the best quality camera phone as a basic tool.
Of course, there is also a place for a digital SLR camera with a long range lense, but those are used less than 20% of the time.
So, there is the big secret when it comes to surveillance.
We will briefly touch on the covert camera. They are not used as much as one might think. There are too many factors to consider, such as ones right to privacy, the appropriate setting and the right kind of case. There are a plethora of covert cameras on Amazon or Ali Baba. Do your own research.
Skip tracing is an industry term used to refer to looking for someone who "skipped" out on a debt. But what people generally mean is that they are looking for a person. We use tools that we have to be licensed to access as it is personal data. That is outside the scope of this article. You won't be able to access these anyways unless you are a licensed private investigator.
Here Is Some Good Stuff You Should Be Using - Privacy Tools and Services PI Uses
So here I will delve a little into products and services we recommend that you use for everything. Mind you, this more on the technical and privacy end of things, but all are consumer friendly options you have at your disposal and some you can just go set up right now!
A very important tool for private investigators is the ability to communicate privately and securely with our clients. They demand it and so should you. We have lead the charge in getting our clients to communicate privately. We will just make some recommendations that you should start now, and begin using and demanding (in a nice way) that those around you use them too. It only makes all of our communication stronger.
xPal Ultra Secure Messenger
xPal is a new one on the market, and one that we recommend and prefer. It is end-to-end encrypted and has more features than Signal, Session and for certain Whatsapp. Dump any messenger associated with Facebook. I promise you, they are tracking your data. If you do get xPal, drop us a note saying so on xID: 007 007 007. xPal can be found on your app store under xPal Ultra Secure Messenger or by going to www.xPal.com.
Get your friends and family to use it! Communicate with a new person via the app. If you are dating, insist that this is the only way you will communicate. This app allows you to not only talk on encryption, chat on encryption, and video call on encryption - you can also delete anything you have sent to another user at any time. That's right. You can delete a photo or a message sent at anytime. No other service does this.
Signal – Private Messenger
Signal is the gold standard to date it has not been compromised, and we can highly recommend it, except for this caveat. Unless you set up Signal with a throw away phone number from the beginning, your phone number is required to set the account up. So what, you might say? Your phone number is more valuable than your Social Security Number in many ways. Signal does take steps to encrypt this on their servers, but if I was to point you in one direction, I would say use xPal (and no we don't get anything to say this) over Signal.
Signal is tried, true and tested. It will keep you secure. Our firm keeps it on our phones, but we are transitioning into a messenger (www.xPal.com) with many more privacy and security features.
Here is one we love and use every single day. MySudo.com ( Click here ) offers encrypted MySudo to MySudo communications. Score for MySudo! On top of that, you can set up 9 different phone numbers, email addresses and more. Each phone number can be used in a different way. Looking for a new car? Give the dealership one of your MySudo phone numbers, email addresses, and heck even a pseudo name. That way your data doesn't get sold on. Need to dump a used phone number, you can do that and add a new one for under $1. The applications are endless. Get this! (and no, we receive not kickback from MySudo)
If you cannot use your xPal, MySudo is the next best thing as it uses regular phone numbers. Give your family one number and keep it. Give your work another number. Give your financial institutions another number, and still have numbers left over. It is good for determining any compromises to your data. If you want to learn more, schedule a consultation with us.
Proton Mail For Email
We highly regard the Proton ecosystem and suggest that you do too. It is, in our opinion, one of the worlds most secure email, calendar, drive, and VPN services to be had. Yes, there are other good options, but in years of use for both personal and business email, etc. it has more options for security and has over 100 million users as of this writing in 2023. That means, there is a good chance that someone you are communicating with has Proton, thus your emails are end-to-end encrypted.
Even if you are not emailing to someone who uses Proton, you can still create a password on the email. It truly has many security and privacy options (too many to list here). Do your own diligence. If you sign up for a paid plan, Proton may give us a few dollars, but we promote this because we believe it is the best. Email is inherently insecure, and Google sells your data. Why would you not use it?
We've covered the most secure messengers (xPal, and Signal), and we've also told you the most secure phone service that does not use your phones sim card, MySudo. We talked about encrypted email with Proton, but remember, Proton is more than email. Proton is email, calendar, password manager, VPN, and drive to save important documents. To boot, they are from Switzerland and your data is safe from prying eyes.
That should cover private and business phone calls, video messages, and email messages. That's your communication services that will keep your conversations private and all these are used by our private investigation firm.
Document Creation, Management and File Saving
Now, how does a private investigator, and how can I create secure documents and save them? Let us briefly share what we use and what you can also deploy into your life. Dump privacy invasive services such as Google and use these to maintain your privacy and security.
Our private investigation service uses all these.
Tresorit is a secure document storage service. They are highly regarded and we maintain our client contracts here. Our private investigation firm does not keep videos, pictures, or documents after the investigation. Those are all turned over to our client. Then, we delete everything. Tresorit securely stores what we find the most important client data, and you also can use this to store your data in ultra security.
We don't mean to bank on about Proton, but suffice it to say it has a fair amount of storage on their free account to store your documents. Not as robust of a system as Tresorit, but it is included with your Proton account.
Crypt.ee For Document Creation and Storage
Go to www.crypte.ee ( link here ) and check out their secure document creation and storage system. It is very private and also has abilities to hide files and photos that can only be summoned if you know the name of the file, otherwise, they will never be found. This investigator keeps this on mobile phone and uses it often.
Cryptpad For Secure Document Creation and Storage
There are two services we use for document creation. Go to www.Cryptpad.fr and check out the insanely secure word processor, spread sheets, and more that are available. They have a paid plan too, but the free version works for most things. Supporting CryptPad is supporting a non-profit for privacy. And, you don't need to speak French to use it!
Libre Office (search for it on Online) is a privacy respecting and secure document and managements application that is most like MS Word, but it actually respects your privacy unlike most anything from Microsoft. You will instantly recognize the back office of Libre Office to look and feel like Word.
Concluding Comments on Document Creation and File Saving For a PI
All of these services are good, and this private investigator uses them in the normal course of our PI work. You too can use these for little or no money. My favorites are Cryptpad for the robust use of the system, Libre Office and Tresorit for file storage that is better than Fort Knox.
Block Attacks, RFID, EMP and More
If you are a tinfoil hat person, you will love this. We do too. We suggest that you use SLNT products to protect your - fill in the blank here. SLNT faraday bags will block any ability to get any data with your electronic devices.
Protect your car key in one at night while you are sleeping from attacks. Protect your mobile phone while traveling. Protect your computer or other devices from RFID or EMPs. SLNT has bags that you can keep your electronics in that will protect them from theft of data and from outside sources that may compromise the use of the items. Check out their website, and you can buy on Amazon.
Conclusion - Hiring a Private Investigator
That will wrap up the products and services this private investigator recommends. Hiring the best private investigator or becoming a private investigator does not hinge on these products or services. However, the point is that privacy is essential, that is why our firm is called PRIVATE. We take privacy and the protection of client information as one of the most important tools in our tradecraft.
The essential tools for us, may not be for you. I do think, that should you think about it, greater privacy and security is an essential tool for anyone. Privacy is the most important aspect in all our lives. It allows us to discreetly manage our life and decisions we make.
Private investigators must maintain client confidentiality, and this is the basis for the rest of their work. It doesn't matter how fancy your camera is, or that you uncovered a fraud with your hidden camera. None of it matters if the particulars are not held with the highest regard for privacy.
If you are a consumer reading this (not a PI) then you owe it to yourself to use what a professional in information is suggesting. Mot are free or cheap. We can talk more about this and offer privacy services to our clients. Just reach out to our agency here.