Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Tip From The PI Speaker

It is that time of year when we give more than we receive and that means we spend more.  Watch out for skimmers.  It is a safe bet to use cash when you can especially on those small transactions but when you need a safer way to make a larger purchase it is always best to use a credit card or check. A lot of places will not accept checks anymore so we are left with our credit cards and the criminals know this.  Criminals who use a skimmer will take your credit card and skim it in an illegal scanner that they wear on the lapel of their jacket with the wire hiding in a pocket.  They are the size of a quarter and hard to detect.  Once scanned your credit card number is saved into their database.

Later, the criminal will either sell your credit card number or keep it for them self.  But, no worries!  If at all possible keep an eye on your credit card as the salesperson completes your transaction and check your credit card statements often.

Now, you are ahead of the game.  Share and be merry!

If you read my blog please like my Facebook Page.  Thank you for your continued support!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Crimes At Your Gym (Stay healthy and smart)

I wrote about this a few years ago and it bears repeating because of current activities occurring at your gym or workout place.

It is not a new crime conjured up but an oldie that is recurring especially close to the holiday season. Criminals are going through lockers, unsupervised jackets and gym bags at your local gym.

I've said it before and I'll say it again to never leave anything of value in your jacket pocket or a nail board accessible to others' and if you use a locker PUT A LOCK ON IT.   Criminals are everywhere including our schools, gyms, workplace and home and in any of these venues could a crime take place.  Here are some examples:

You're at school and you are running late for class and forget to lock your locker.  Anybody with the mind to steal will open a locker if it doesn't have a lock on it and they will steal anything and everything of value to them and others'.  They might take your lunch, cash, or instruments, cell phones, and computer devices that we all take with us wherever we go especially school.  Be mindful to lock your locker especially if you share it with someone.

You just got off work and heading to the gym for your routine workout.  And, depending on the climate you live in you get to the gym and drop your gym bag next to the coat rack that you hang your coat or jacket on and leave your keys in your coat or jacket pocket.  You don't feel a sense of insecurity because you are familiar with almost everyone there. You feel a familial connection as strange as it may seem because you work out with the same people every time you go.  I know this because I too have felt this way having been a regular at the gym working out with the same crowd every day.  But, it only takes one person to ruin all of that for you.  And, you're off to your workout.  In the meantime, someone is going through jacket pockets and spots your gym bag on the floor.   The people at the gym are minding their own business as most do and the criminal knows this.  Most people won't interfere or ask questions for fear of embarrassment.  And, if someone did interfere the criminal is prepared to what he/she is going to say.  "I have a jacket just like this. Wow, I'm so sorry." or, "My friend asked me to grab his jacket but I don't know which one it is."  Either way the criminal will take their chances and be prepared for their defense.

The criminal successfully locates sets of keys from a few jackets and goes out to the parking lot where he/she pushes the "open door" button and the key fobs going through each car including yours.  They search your car from top to bottom for anything of value including cell phones, cash, and iPad.  But, who would leave these valuables in their car?  ANYONE and  EVERYONE!  Boom, just like that, you have been ripped off and they might even decide to steal your car in the process.

Be proactive in securing your belongings and keep your keys with you at all times when working out or put your belongings in a locker and LOCK IT.  When you are shooting hoops or swimming laps there are strangers going through the locker room at all time.  It only takes one person with the mind to steal to go through your belongings and take what they want.

At our place of employment, we risk anything at our workstation being taken by a person with the mind to steal.  If your desk has a drawer that locks please be sure it cannot be picked by a bobby pin or similar key that is standard for locks.  Never leave your purse or wallet in your desk drawer otherwise.  Your coworkers know your routine and it only takes one person to ruin it.

In our home's we run the risk with every contractor we invite in including babysitters.  We also run the risk with our own family members including our teenagers and their friends.  It's a fact that children take money from their parents' wallet and so do their friends.  Yours might not but there are some out there who do.  Contractors can see what wonderful things you have in your home, where you store your purse and your routine to a degree depending on how long they are there.  Unless you check your contractor through a reputable background checking service or they have come highly recommended and you plan to be in their presence the entire time you run a risk of being ripped off where and when you least expect it.  Let's face it.  These people are strangers coming into our homes and we only know what others' have said about them.  Unless we know who these "others" are our risk runs higher.

These ideas are just another way we can control how a criminal may or may not impact us and our lives.  Taking the extra step that really involves very little time and effort will ensure you worry free times at school, the gym, work, and home.

EXTRA TIP:  If you can remember to, lock your car with the automatic button from inside your car and not your key fob.  More to come on this.

If you read my blog please visit my Facebook Page for additional information.  For more helpful tips and investigative tools please visit my website.  Don't forget to share this valuable information with your friends and family.  Thank you for your support.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Social Media Scam Bait and Solution #4

The top #4 social media scam, according to Norton. com is Cash Grabs.  Cash Grabs is a popular scam that most of us have seen.  You received an email from a friend that in a panic needed your financial help because they lost their wallet and was deserted in a foreign country.  Sound familiar?

The bait:  an email or social media profile from a “friend” who claims they lost their wallet while on vacation and need money from you in order to get home.

How it happens:  Your friend's computer was infected with malware.  Malware is malicious software, hence the nickname “malware”.  Malware is an infection that hijacks the computer including data, contacts, emails and more.  You may have heard the term “worm” or “spyware” and are good examples of what malware is.  The creator of the malware that infiltrates a computer is the true culprit according to the software they generate containing harmful coding. 
In this case, the malware grabs the contacts on the computer and forwards a fake email to all waiting to and waits to see who takes the bait. IE: Hey, guys.  I am stuck in London and need money to get back.  Someone walked off with my bag that had my cell phone and plane ticket.  Please email me back asap so we can make arrangements.  Thanks!

Solution:  Ignore it!  Contact your friend and let them know their email was hacked.  Tell your friend to scan their computer with malware scanner software.  Here is a link to Microsoft for a free download.

For more tips and free investigative resources you can use at home please visit my website.

Stay safe and knowledgeable.  Cheryl D. Ring, The PI Speaker

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Game We Should All Avoid

Scams suck as much as their makers.   We must be on the defensive at all times and it can be very expensive and time-consuming to put a plan into action that may or may not be enough to fight them off.  Don’t worry though because like Dr. Oz who presents a million drugs on his show that prevent or enhance one thing or another we cannot buy or ingest every single one of them.  If we did we would go broke and they would make us sick.   We can never have too much internet protection but we don't need it all either.  

In order for us to protect ourselves from online scam's, we do need an anti-virus software that gives us, at the very least, basic coverage that we can get for less than $20 a year at Norton.  AVG offer free basic software but may not give us as much protection as we need considering our internet use.  If we are covered with basic anti-virus software and basic knowledge it may be just enough to keep us protected.  

Last week I spoke about Hidden URL’s and Phishing two of the top 5 internet scams according to Norton.com.  Another scam you should know about is Hidden Charges

Bait:  A fun fact game

IE:  What type of character are YOU? 

In order to play this high-profile game, you must first enter a few pieces of personal information such as your cellular telephone number of which you inadvertently provide.  If you provide your cell phone number, for example, you will eventually begin to receive text messages from unidentified numbers and consequently receive charges for these texts on your cellular phone bill.  A good example of this sort of scam is when you receive a text from someone you know or at least you think it’s from someone you know but it really isn’t.  The scammer has high jacked your friends’ social media profile and their contacts and has sent text messages to their contacts, including you, that contain content that makes the recipient believe it’s really them.  But, if you think about whom it is coming from and that person’s normal texting behavior then you might be on to the scammer.  For example, out of nowhere and out of left field you shockingly receive a text from someone you NEVER hear from let alone through text messages, and they “say” something generic like, “hey, how was your day?”  The first thing you should do is go online and check out their social media profile.  What you will most likely find is their real profile page, that you are “friends” on and a second FAKE profile.  This FAKE profile is used specifically to high jack the contacts on your friends’ social media page for the purpose of the Hidden Charges scam.  Or, you may receive a fake chain letter asking you to repost to your friends’.  CHAIN LETTER is another scam that we will talk about in the near future.  It’s not nearly as harmful as the other scams we have spoken about so far.

Solution:  Your best defense is to be aware that online games, surveys, and contests could potentially be a scam.  Your protection is your skepticism. 

So, next time you are perusing through your Facebook Page or the internet looking for games to play DON’T GIVE OUT YOUR INFORMATION.  It’s as simple as that.  If you receive a text from a "friend" that seems out of place do not respond to the text but find their real profile page and private message them.  Please review my previous posts about Hidden URL’s and Phishing so you don’t fall into those traps.  

For tips and free investigative resources you can use at home please visit my website.
Thank you for your continued support! - Cheryl D. Ring, The PI Speaker

Monday, October 31, 2016

Predators In Your Personal Space And How To Kick Their Butts!

Last week I posted about trust and law enforcement and the on goings of criminals who take advantage of "our" trusting nature.  Today, we are going to learn about scams that occur behind closed doors in our homes and offices that are not so easily detected such that of an idiot trying to impersonate a police officer without a holster for the gun he carries or proper identification on his person or alleged cruiser.

Let us not forget to thank those who serve with all of their heart and soul in order to protect society and our country!

In the U.S. alone, according to statistica.com, 78% of people use social media.  Are you among the millions who has a Facebook page, Twitter account, or post on Instagram?   You are probably included in the majority of people who have their cell phone in their hand when driving, in a long line, or in a Doctors' office waiting room. Yes?  No?   So what if we love social media!  A lot of us use it for business purposes and to keep in touch with those that live far away.  I am thankful for social media, Facebook and LinkedIn rock!  But, are you aware of social media scams?  Here they are and how to kick their butts!  Please share with your friends and family so they are armed with the information that may prevent them from becoming a statistic.  I will be posting more about this in the coming weeks.

1.  Hidden URL's (Uniform Resource Locator)

Bait:  Shortened URL's.
Those with bad intention will use a shorter url in order to hide the full location to where you will be directed.  You may be directed to where you hope to go or to a world where malware is installed on your computer. Malware is software that is intended to damage and, in some cases, disable your computer.  People create malware and viruses for the sake of pissing people off, people they don't know or can visually watch the struggle as it takes place, and sometimes they do it to hijack your personal information.  These people have nothing better to do than cause others' harm for absolutely no reason at all.  Sociopaths are narcissistic and function without a conscience giving them the emotional freedom to lie, cheat, and steal.  They are intelligent and manipulative.  Perhaps those creating malware and viruses are Sociopaths that have nothing else better to do.  They create adds on your Facebook page or somewhere on the internet that manipulate you into clicking on the link.  After clicking on the link they pretty much have you where they want you.

IE:  Shorter url (although safe because it's mine ;-)):  pi-speaker.com
       Full Location url:  http://www.cheryldring.com/presentations

Solution:  A good butt kicking is anti-virus and anti-spyware installed on your computer.

2.  Phishing Requests

Bait:  Personal remarks on your social media page or through an email that appear to be from people you know.

 Once you click on the link it takes you to a fake landing page created by a phisher in order to steal your log-in information.  IE: when you click on the link it directs you to a social media page that you have a sign in for.  The page seems legitimate where you type in your log-in information.

IE:  I do not have an example because that would require me to send you to a fake page that may cause harm to you or your computer.

Solution:  Kick some ass with Anti-Phishing defenses.

I do not endorse software but if you search online for the bold keywords in this posting you will find several methods that can protect you and your computers.

Next week:  More scams

Knowledge is power!  Arm yourself with information and share with your friends and family.  

Book me to speak at your next business meeting or event.  Get your wake-up call through my audience participation speaking presentations and learn through some of my most compelling cases, statistics, and facts about the art of lying, scams, and how to protect yourself in today's society at work, home, and school and much more!  Visit my website for helpful tips and free resources used by Private Investigators that you can use at home. 

Thank you for your continued support! - Cheryl D. Ring, The PI Speaker

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fun Facts: Trust And Law Enforcement

The need to know your rights when it came to law enforcement was never an issue in the past.  Why now?  The bad guys are out there finding new ways to cause havoc in society.  The criminal will never stop exploring styles or demonstrate his or her evil ways and the need to feed their compulsion to manipulate, steal, lie, and control.  One of the ways today's criminal entertain themselves is to assume the role of a uniform by use of appearance and props while taking advantage of people's trusting nature.  And, sometimes a uniform who has earned the right cannot be trusted.  Take a look at what happened to Charles Balakubak of Kingston, NY when his dash cam caught an officer in a lie. 

On the other side of the country a man in Kansas City, Mo was pulled over by someone in a vehicle with just the lights and a siren, civilian license plates and no decals or identifying markings of a police cruiser. The person driving the car was not wearing a full uniform nor had a badge, name tag or holster for the gun he held close to his body.  The impersonator approached the driver of the car he pulled over and the driver asked the "officer" if he was a real cop to which he answered "yes".  The driver who had his doubts began recording the encounter with his cell phone.  When asked what agency he worked for the "officer" got mad at which point the driver sped away and feared the police impersonator would pursue him and end badly. But, the driver got away and the impersonator did too.  The driver managed to record the license plate, make and model of the vehicle as well as the face of the "officer" and immediately contacted the police and reported the encounter only to learn he was one of a few who had been pulled over by this impersonator.  He went to social media and the local news which ultimately helped catch the perpetrator.  Fortunately, the other potential victims had used their instinct and drove away before the perp ever had a chance to cause harm.   Nobody could figure out what was his ultimate intention other than to manipulate and perhaps scare his victims although, could have ended in a robbery or worse because he was always armed.  

If you ever feel threatened by a person in uniform you have the right to video record the encounter and call 911 during the process.  If tailed by a police cruiser or any vehicle that appears to be of threat you should always drive to a public place or the nearest police station.  If you are pulled over always look for the markings of a Police Officer that include a badge, name tag, decal and proper license plate on the vehicle.  And, when asked a real officer will offer the name of their agency and Supervisor.  

In my ongoing research, 100% of the Police Officers I spoke with were aware of impersonators and stated that a good cop will not object to your inquisition and need to record the encounter.  The best way to handle it is to be nice about it.  Use your instincts and do what feels right.  

In closing, I don't want to leave a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to law enforcement.  Men and women in uniform are our hero's.  Here is one example:

Knowledge is power!  Arm yourself with information and share with your friends and family.  

Book me to speak at your next business meeting or event.  Get your wake-up call through my audience participation speaking presentations and learn through some of my most compelling cases, statistics, and facts about the art of lying, scams, and how to protect yourself in today's society at work, home, and school and much more!  Visit my website for helpful tips and free resources used by Private Investigators that you can use at home. 

Thank you for your continued support! - Cheryl, The PI Speaker

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Would you know a scam if you saw it?

I am so excited to have launched my new website www.pi-speaker.com.  My old site, www.consumerpi.com, was so outdated but contained my research.  Unfortunately, it crashed but fortunately I saved it all.  Yeah!!!  I will add it to my new website soon and update all statistics because those are ever changing.  For example did you know that Identity Theft, being the fastest growing crime in America, in 2005 at an average there were 600K victims and has risen dramatically in 2014 with over 17.6 million victims?  (According to Bureau of Justice Statistics)  Are you a victim of ID Theft?  If so, would you have taken steps that may have helped prevented it from happening?  Wait, I can answer this for you. "Damn straight I would!" or "Yah, sure, you bet ya!"

In my earlier days of public speaking I handed out cheat sheets to my audiences that contained helpful information regarding identify theft and tips that could help avoid becoming a victim to the what seems to be never ending growing number.  Here are just a few of those tips.

1.  Be careful what you throw away in the trash.  Shred those papers that contain personal information.  Believe it or not cons still go through people's trash.  Yuk!  Take it from me from someone who can find out a heap of information with just a name or address.  If I could do it they can too (but maybe not as easily or quickly).

2.  Use strong passwords for your online accounts.  It's not a good idea to use the same one for every website you use.  And, keep them in a safe place.  Lot's of folks keep their private information on cell phones.  These days it's not necessarily the safest place unless you have the right security features in place.

3.  Check your credit reports at least once a year if not more.  Here is a link issued by the U.S. Government for a no strings attached free credit report.  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

4.  Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry.  The less strangers call you the less likely you are to sign up for something that has SCAM written all over it.  Besides, your phone won't ring as much and trust me that once scammers and telemarketers start calling because they are legally allowed to the calls won't stop even if you tell them to stop calling.  By signing up for the do not call registry you are giving yourself the power to control and disable the annoying callers.  Here is the link that will get you started.  It takes less than a minute (if you have decent typing skills) https://www.donotcall.gov.

Please share these tips with your friends and loved ones.  People don't often speak openly about their personal struggles even with their best friends.  You may be able to save someone from becoming another statistic.

I am happy to say that I have updated my cheat sheet for future audiences that also provides information that could help conduct your own investigation at no cost.  You never know when you will need to check someone out whether it be a person or business.  Please visit my website for more information www.pi-speaker.com.  Thank you for your support!

COMING SOON:  Identifying Uniform and How To Protect You and Your Children
How you can tell the difference between a real cop or authority figure in uniform from an imposture.  It's not as easy as one might think.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Wake Up Call - "it's an EXPERIENCE not a speech"

Have you ever had a wake-up call, the kind that makes you aware of something you may not have been aware of before?  Sometimes it is so profound that it teaches you something that will stick with you for the rest of your life.

Over the Memorial Holiday I had the pleasure of presenting The Wake Up Call,  "it’s an experience not a speech", where I take my audience on a journey through the life of a PI and into the world of….. let’s just say I gave them a glimpse of what goes on around them every single day that they are most assuredly unaware of.  

I presented my rehearsal presentation to a handpicked audience of about 65 that included an Appellate Judge, attorneys, physicians, teachers, and business owners, among many others and was designed specifically for the purpose of digitally recording with an audience.  The recording will be used for my website and applications for speaker series, a tool all speakers should have in order to increase their chances of gaining employment especially with large audiences. 

 In the beginning I walked across the stage several times in order to attract attention and stimulate the visual senses BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, I did not want to block the projector so it appeared as if I was pacing the floor v e r y  s l o w l y.  I walked from one side of the stage to the other, stopped for a minute or two, then moved to the other side of the stage and all while delivering my speech.  And, of course, it goes without saying, I had some nervous tension as all speakers do.  I have never met a speaker who does not and if one claims not to be nervous they would be lying.  Fortunately, I received compliments for this somewhat intentional move and for various reasons however, one person thought it was distracting and another misunderstood the purpose.  I was glad that most were aware that it was simply a rehearsal and not a full blown polished presentation and that it was all for the camera.  I could not have done it without them and was so grateful for their support!

The nervous tension I had, despite what people might think, was not from speaking in front of people.  I have absolutely no problem speaking to or in front of a crowd.   One of the first things I learned in one of my college composition classes was that most people would rather die than speak in front of people.   As I recollect the only times I got nervous speaking in front of people was when I gave speeches in classes where I was being graded.  During The Wake Up Call I was nervous because I didn’t want to leave anything out and everything I said had a purpose.  If I had left anything out it would have changed the course of the presentation.  Speaking for thirty plus minutes without a script is not a cake walk for any speaker.  It's fun but hard work.

The Wake Up Call was conceived during college after I was assigned to give an informational speech in my Communications class of which I received a 99%.   My Professor said he deducted 1% because I showed emotion during my delivery.   God forbid he give me a perfect score!  
I had a lot of respect for my Professor who had an incredibly talented and challenging profession outside of teaching and had a teaching style that seemed somewhat confusing at times.  But, he did say that this speech was his favorite and that meant more to me than the score.  With that, I knew I would take this speech to an audience one day.
According to testimonials, some listed on my website, it was riveting, informative and an edge of your seat presentation to the very end.  I couldn’t agree more considering the content that comprised of some of my most compelling cases including my work on the Shawn Hornbeck case, how to tell when someone is lying, how to protect oneself from the most common menace in society, against scams, and more.  I was happy that all of the hard work I put into it was effective. 

My target audience is EVERYBODY.  Everybody will benefit from The Wake Up Call because of the dangers everybody faces every day at school, work, when we invite contractors into our homes, when we shop at the malls, and society in general.  Our elderly parents who live alone and young adults who use the internet to find jobs will also benefit from this experience. 

I am not a writer but I like to write and I am not a professional speaker but I like to speak.  I am a Private Investigator with a message who learned how to delivery it clearly and effectively.  To get your wake-up call please visit my website.

If you read my blog please share and like my Facebook Page.  Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#1 of 6 Thing a Private Investigator Won't Tell You

#1 Thing a Private Investigator won’t tell you by
We utilize lots of public records, which are easily accessible by you.

He says, “As you might imagine public records are accessible by anyone.  However, just because they are accessible by just about anyone does not minimize their importance.  Public records are an incredibly important resource, but understanding and navigating the maze of public records in the U.S. is skill that takes years of practice.”

I couldn’t agree more with Brian Willingham!  In fact I have similar facts posted on my website, pi-speaker.com, (Tips) that reflect the same statement and I offer the public resources that Private Investigators use including information about public records. 

Knowing how to navigate using the information you acquire is key to the success in the outcome of an investigation.  Besides public record, building your resources, knowing how to obtain the information and what to ask for, and building relationships with your resources are extremely important in the success of a PI.    Retrieving data from the internet and knowing what to use and where to get it are key elements. 

There are only so many public records you can access easily and at your finger tips.  Once you run out of those you must have backup resources and that is where a PI can become helpful.  There are companies that have data that are only retrievable by law enforcement and Private Investigators.  And, there are public websites that offer full reports that include addresses, aliases, and such and some may even offer identifying factors such as social security number and date of birth, however, this is very rare.  The data you can retrieve on a public website differs than those accessible to law enforcement and PI's.

A social security number is the main ingredient in identity theft.  From a SSN you are able to recover a person’s name, date of birth, current and former addresses, aliases, email addresses, social media information, relatives, neighbors, and much more.  This is why it is so important to safeguard your SSN’s and your children’s SSN’s because it is very easy for an identity thief to get away with so much more with a child’s number.  Children do not have credit and do not have a credit report or rating unless credit is obtained.  Throughout my career I have witnessed parents who irresponsibly use their children’s SSN’s in order to gain credit and loans.  And, this can ruin their credit as adults.  I consider this a form of identity theft.

Due to the skill set that PI's have some are hired by law enforcement to work their cold cases.  A third eye will catch things that were overlooked the first and second time and PI's may have resources and skills that law enforcement Detective's do not.  And, there is a misconception between Police Officers and PI's.  Police Officers enforce the law and upgrade to Detective status.  A PI IS a Detective.  PI's do not arrest people and enforce the law and do not have the rights that law enforcement officers do.  In fact PI's must respect the laws more so than the average person.  If caught breaking the law in any capacity they risk losing their PI license.  But, in order for a PI license to be in jeopardy the case must be strong against them.  People don't like PI's that put them under investigation and in fact will try to harm the PI by filing a false complaint against their license and sometimes an idiot will go as far as falsifying court documents in an effort to obtain a restraining order against the PI.  Nice try, but it is a crime to falsify legal documents. The Federal False Claims Act and Crimes Act 1958 are only a few laws that can put a criminal right back where he/she belongs not to mention perjury.

Feel free to access the public resource provided on the TIPS page on my website that will help you start your own investigation when hiring a contractor and more.  Check it out here.

If you have a question for a Private Investigator please feel free to post them here or you can email me.  If you prefer your question not be posted on this blog please indicate so.
Thank you for your continued support.  If you read my blog please share it with your friends and family and like my Facebook Page.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

#2 of 6 Things a PI Won't Tell You

6 Things a PI won’t tell you by

Brian says “Our job is to collect facts, but sometimes those facts don’t line up with what the client is looking for.  Investigators can certainly make things up or break the law to get what the client is looking for, but that doesn’t really help anyone.”

In 2012 when Brian wrote this stuff times were different.  I doubt a PI these days would admit to breaking the law to get what they need for a case.  Today most states require PI’s to be licensed and the license will be revoked if you are caught breaking the law for any reason whether professionally or personally.  I don’t know any PI, including myself, that would take such a risk especially if they have a lot to lose.  But, it is questionable as to what is considered breaking the law in this industry and to what degree is one breaking it if they are working responsibly in a professional capacity.
 There was a day that PI’s would use whatever that was available to them in order to resolve a case they were working on and it was common, and still is, for law enforcement to depend on the work of a PI to get the work done.  In my career I received more phone calls from Police Officers than college graduates seeking employment at my firm.  I often worked with the Police but never hired them.  I have my reasons.

 When a case goes cold within law enforcement it is common to hand it over to a reliable Private Eye to crack the case.  It is true that we have different resources than that of law enforcement and that are legal.  But, there are times when PI’s rely on the help of police in order to solve a case.  I personally have experienced this more than once and regardless of the circumstances the respect for one another should be mutual.

A few years ago someone came to me with an identity theft case.  An unidentified person stole my clients identity AND personal financial information including credit cards and debit card number.  The thief was able to buy this information off the market and then from a distant location they were able to use the information.  I found out where this information was being used and when I did I immediately contacted the police in that jurisdiction.  I was stunned by their response to me when asking for help.  My request was for them to go to a Walgreens in their area and view a video that should have recorded the face of the thief.  In the beginning they made promise after promise that they would do it but it never happened.  The last time I attempted to get their attention they told me they were too busy working on local cases.  Thanks a lot Orange County!  Needless to say without that video I was unable to identify the thief which could have lead to his capture, taking him off the streets and sparing any future victims.  Fortunately, I was able to resolve a few other issues for my client but what I would have given to catch the scum that took the identity of my client a hard working individual who made an honest living. 

What Brian is talking about when he talks about “facts” to a case that the client may not be expecting I wholeheartedly agree with.  It is often that a client has an idea in his mind how a case will end and the PI surprises their client with unexpected information that could potentially change the course of the case.  The unexpected information can curtail the investigation and is often at the request of the client to not take it any further.  They may not want to know the way it ends or who may have been involved.  It all depends on the circumstances and type of case.

I doubt a seasoned PI would make things up just to satisfy their client’s needs.   The word seasoned indicates the PI has a lengthy career in the field and wouldn’t last very long if they simply made things up as they went along unless they constantly change their name, name of their company, and consider themselves seasoned.  I am getting a little carried away here but you get the point I am sure.   Now these days you have to have a license, at least in my state, and it is a very expensive and lengthy process that takes place every two years.  I highly doubt one person could obtain more than one PI license in their state without getting caught. 

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

#3 of 6 Things a PI Won't Tell You

#3 We rarely find that smoking gun. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

#4 of 6 Things A PI Won't Tell You

#4 We don’t have any special powers

“Years of television may lead you to believe that Private Investigators drive Ferraris, have law enforcement powers and have access to secret government records, in addition, you may believe that you are required to talk to a Private Investigator.  While some investigators may drive Ferraris, the rest of it is not true.  In fact, in most cases, a Private Investigator does not have any more power than the average person."

I agree with Brian to a degree.  While his list of 6 Things A PI Won’t Tell You was published in 2012 the laws are constantly changing in both directions giving us rights and taking others’ away. Let me express that real PI’s follow the rules and laws.  Anything PI’s recover as a result of an investigation would otherwise be a waste of time if not legally acquired, besides there is too much at stake for a PI who makes his/her living doing what they love to do.  They can lose their license and face the consequences of their actions.  It’s true that a PI is really just a public citizen and do not have law enforcement powers.    The power that a PI does have is skill and experience.    A doctor thinks like a doctor, a lawyer thinks like a lawyer and a PI thinks like a PI.  Be careful not to underestimate someone who digs around for information for a living, seeks the truth and knows how to find it.
PI’s  have power in the sense that they have the skill set to do what might be necessary to solve a case and it certainly helps when they investigate someone who has nothing to hide.  People who have something to hide will not be so forthcoming.  For example, when Shawn Hornbeck went missing and I sat down with his parents in an appeal to help find their son, pro bono, they were eager to cooperate with me and answered every single question asked.  Once during a rescue {of a women who was being controlled by her husband and held hostage} the bad guy in this case lied about everything and {in his own mind} justified his behavior to take the blame away from himself. 
One kind of power Brian is talking about is the kind of power a police officer has with a badge, for example, a PI cannot make an arrest.  I personally would not want to have that right.  If I wanted that right I would have become a cop. And, PI’s are more comparable to a Detective where they investigate not arrest. We have the same rights as the public to make a citizen arrest where allowed.  In fact, although some PI’s have a badge it is unethical to use it under unnecessary circumstances.  If you saw a person wearing a badge you wouldn’t think “there’s a PI”, no, you would think “there’s a police officer”.  It can almost be considered a form of misrepresentation if a Private Investigator or Private Detective were to walk around wearing a badge.   In fact, most PI’s don’t wear their badge and might keep it in their back pocket.   When my firm bought badges back in the day we had to ID ourselves as a legitimate Detective Agency but I am confident these days you could buy one no matter who you are and believe me when I say that people do and they misuse them, misrepresent themselves, and impersonate.  That’s the Internet for you.  But, why does a PI have a badge if it’s of no use to them?  Some PI’s have a badge as a token of accomplishment.  PI’s go through a lot of training and most are highly educated with degrees in criminology and more.  Most states require PI’s to be licensed and are required to take continuing education classes yearly or every two years in order to maintain their license.  Even as a Research Analyst I have 48 CEU’s in the field of Investigation.  I have had my badge for many years and back in the day it came in handy when working on missing children cases.  It was a form of ID that people took more seriously than had I just stated "I'm a PI so give me all the information you have" and expect the family to believe me.  These days’ people are on guard more so whereas anybody could get a badge and lie about whom they are even the child’s abductor.  Remember the three girls who went missing in Ohio?  Their abductor, Arial Castro, was there to help advocate for the return of one of his abductees. If I am acting on a professional level it helps to have a form of professional ID.  If I needed to I would not only use my badge but my professional state ID card.  

Secret government records are not accessible to anyone without legal right.  If a PI has legal means of obtaining secret government record I guarantee that they are using them.   It takes years for a PI to establish resources and contacts in order to achieve a great amount of success and while the information they access must be legal and with permissible purpose there are different ways they can go about getting it.  One way is to call in a favor to a friend and more than often that friend is a colleague.  You know who to trust and who not to trust in other words a PI who has morals and boundaries will stay away from the dirty PI’s who act like big shots among their peers bragging about the illegal information they can get.  Most PI’s have the same record access and resources and anything beyond that may not be legal.   And, if they are using information in the court of law and it was obtained illegally I guarantee it will be of no use to the client.

Again, the skill and experience of a PI is what makes a good PI.  A seasoned PI who has a specialty will typically know exactly what needs to be done including the shortcuts in order to solve a case.  For example I have training in skip tracing.  Skip tracing is the process of locating a person.  Skip tracers can legally also trace telephone numbers, credit cards, and just about anything that has a paper trail.  A good PI will know the right questions to ask their client in order to establish the best shortcut that will get to the requested ending result.  The process of skip tracing involves as many steps as it takes, however knowing which direction to go and how the information can be used is the key to success.  It’s simply putting a puzzle together in the right order.  Some of the puzzles are small and some can be very big.  Some are more time consuming than others.  I also must add that I interrogate my perspective client before I accept a case.  I always have to know why they want the information and what they intend to do with it when they get it.  Their answers will dictate whether or not I accept the task and what resources I can use.   PI’s, Skip Tracers, Investigators, Financial Institutions and more must have permissible purpose in order to access records that they most likely had to jump through hoops to access in the first place.  These are the resources that are not available to the public and must be used in a responsible and ethical manner by those who use them. 
Now, about the Ferraris.  Successful PI’s can easily bring in a six figure annual salary.  On average, in 2012, the annual salary of a PI was right around $50,000.

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