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Questions and answers about private detectives

A compilation of the most frequently asked questions about private investigators.


Riviera Private Investigation, private detective firm, Nice

Questions and answers about private detectives

Here are some questions and answers about private detectives, also called private research agents.

Question 1 :

Who can call on a private detective ?

The use of a private detective is often carried out by individuals or companies for various reasons. Here are some examples of situations where people or organizations could call on a private detective:

Family matters:

  • Marital infidelity: A spouse suspecting infidelity may hire a private investigator to gather evidence.

  • Child Custody: In child custody disputes, a parent may hire a detective to assess the child's well-being in the child's home ;other parent.


  • Employee Investigations: A company may hire a private investigator to investigate employees suspected of theft, fraud, or other illicit activities.

  • Unfair competition: To collect information on the business practices of suspected competitors.

Civil and criminal matters:

  • Locating Witnesses: A lawyer may hire a detective to locate important witnesses in a civil or criminal case.

  • Pre-trial investigations: To gather information that can be used as evidence at trial.


  • Insurance fraud: Insurance companies may hire private investigators to investigate suspicious insurance claims.


  • Threat investigations: Threatened individuals may call upon detectives to investigate the origin and nature of threats.

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Question 2 :

Is it legal to have a detective follow someone ?

The legality of having a private investigator follow someone depends on the laws in the specific jurisdiction where it is happening. In general, private investigators are required to respect privacy laws and not infringe on the constitutional or legal rights of individuals.

Here are some things to consider:

Right to privacy

Private investigators must act in a way that does not violate people's right to privacy. This may include restrictions on surveillance in private places such as a person's home.

Local legislation

Laws vary greatly from place to place. It is essential to know and respect the specific laws of the region where the detective operates.

Professional ethics

Even if something is legal, that doesn't necessarily mean it's ethical. Private investigators are generally required to follow strict ethical standards in carrying out their duties.

In France, as soon as you use an APPROVED private detective (by the State, via the CNAPS, a public administrative establishment under supervision of the Ministry of the Interior), and that this professional has validated the legality of the mission (by asking you for a certain number of supporting documents, in particular in order to establish a legal link between you and the person who will be observed), YES, it's perfectly LEGAL. Obviously, the detective must respect a number of legal obligations in the context of his surveillance and his observations, as well as respect the Code of Ethics for private detectives, which is enshrined in the Law.

Question 3 :

Who are the most famous private detectives ?

The best-known private detectives are often fictional characters, from literature, cinema, television and other media. However, there are also real-life private detectives who have gained notoriety for their investigations. Here are some examples of well-known fictional and real-life private detectives.

rpi private detective Côte d'Azur

Fictional private detectives:

Sherlock Holmes

The famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, appearing in numerous stories and novels, is one of the most iconic detectives in fiction.

Hercule Poirot

The Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie, who appears in several detective novels, is also widely recognized.

Philip Marlowe

A fictional private detective created by author Raymond Chandler, appearing in novels such as "The Big Sleep" and "Farewell, My Lovely".

Sam Spade

The main character of the novel "The Maltese Falcon" by Dashiell Hammett, played on screen by Humphrey Bogart in the film of the same name.

Real-life private detectives:

Allan Pinkerton

Founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, he is often considered one of the first modern private detectives in the United States.

Kate Warne

The first female private detective in the United States, she worked for the Pinkerton agency and was a pioneer in the field.

Eugène-François Vidocq

A French criminal turned detective, Vidocq is often considered one of the first private detectives in history.

Question 5 :

How does a private detective work ?

The work of a private detective generally involves several steps to complete an investigation. Here is a general overview of the process a private investigator may follow:

  • Initial consultation: The detective meets with the client to discuss the details of the case. It collects information on the objectives of the investigation, the people involved and any relevant elements.

  • Case Analysis: The detective carefully reviews the information provided by the client and develops an investigation strategy. He can also assess the feasibility of the investigation based on local laws and available resources.

  • Information Search: The detective can conduct extensive research to gather relevant information. This may include consulting public databases, online research, collecting official documents, etc.

  • Surveillance: In some cases, the detective may conduct covert surveillance to obtain evidence or information. This may include shadowing people, taking photos or videos, etc.

  • Interviews: The detective may interview potential witnesses or people connected to the case to obtain additional information. These interviews can be conducted discreetly to avoid compromising the investigation.

  • Evidence Collection: The detective gathers documentary, photographic, or video evidence that can be used to support the investigation's conclusions. He must ensure that all evidence is obtained legally.

  • Investigation Report: Once the investigation is complete, the detective provides the client with a detailed report of the results. This report may include collected evidence, conclusions, recommendations, etc.

  • Collaboration with authorities: If necessary, the detective may collaborate with law enforcement by providing information or evidence to support a criminal investigation.

Question 6 :

How to hire a private detective ?

Hiring a private detective can be an important decision, and it is essential to choose a qualified and reliable professional. Here are some steps to follow to hire a private detective:

Determine your needs

Before contacting a private detective, clearly define your needs and objectives. What exactly are you looking for? What information do you hope to get from the survey?

Look for qualified private investigators

Look for private investigators in your area who are licensed and have a good reputation. You can ask friends, family, lawyers, or even search online for recommendations.

Check approvals

In many jurisdictions, private investigators must hold specific approvals (e.g. CNAPS in France). Make sure the detective you plan to hire is properly licensed under local laws. This guarantees a minimum level of professionalism and legitimacy.

Check the experience

Look for private investigators with relevant experience in the type of investigation you are considering. Some detectives have specialties, such as family investigations, fraud investigations, etc.

Initial consultation

Contact potential private investigators for an initial consultation. This step will allow you to discuss your situation, ask questions about their experience, and determine if they can meet your needs.

Ask for references

Don't hesitate to ask for references from previous clients. Experienced private investigators should be able to provide you with testimonials or references that attest to their competence and professionalism.

Discuss costs

Clarify the rates and costs associated with the survey. Some detectives charge by the hour, while others may offer packages for specific investigations. Make sure you clearly understand the cost structure.


Before beginning the survey, make sure you have a written contract outlining the details of the survey, services provided, costs, deadlines and others important conditions.

Respect the legality

Make sure the private detective operates within the legal framework and respects individual rights. A professional detective must know and follow local laws.

When hiring a private investigator, be transparent about your situation and provide all relevant information to help conduct an effective investigation.

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Question 7 :

What is the salary of a private detective ?

The salary of a private investigator can vary significantly depending on several factors, including experience, specialization, geographic location, and the type of investigations performed. Private detectives may be employed by detective agencies, work independently, or be hired directly by companies or individuals.

Independent: Independent private investigators can earn based on their clientele, the type of investigations they conduct, and their reputation. Earnings can vary significantly and are dependent on ability to secure contracts.

It is important to note that these numbers are general estimates and may vary depending on many factors. Additionally, independent private investigators may charge by the hour or by the project, which may influence their income.

Salaries may also differ between countries due to variations in cost of living and local economic standards. Before entering this profession, it is recommended to research average salaries in the area where you plan to work.

Question 8 :

What are the missions of a private detective ?

The missions of a private detective can be diverse and depend on the specific needs of their clients. Here are some of the common missions that a private detective may be required to accomplish:

Fraud Investigations

Private detectives are often called upon to investigate cases of fraud, whether on a personal or professional level. This may include insurance fraud, corporate fraud, etc.

People search

Detectives can be hired to locate missing people, long-lost friends, debtors, or witnesses in legal cases.

Marital infidelity

Many private detectives are called upon to investigate suspicions of marital infidelity. This may include covert surveillance to collect photographic or video evidence.

Family investigations

Detectives may be involved in investigations related to family matters such as child custody disputes, family background investigations, etc.

Employee Surveys

Companies sometimes hire private investigators to investigate employees suspected of theft, fraud, sabotage or other inappropriate behavior.


Detectives may be tasked with assessing the safety of a person, business, or event. This may include risk assessments and recommendations to enhance security.

Searching for evidence for trials

Lawyers may use private investigators to gather evidence in civil or criminal cases. This may include searching for witnesses, collecting documents, etc.

Cybercrime investigations

With the increase in online activities, some private detectives specialize in cybercrime investigations, including looking for online fraud, online harassment, etc.

Question 9 :

How do you know if you are being followed in the street ?

It can be difficult to detect if you are being followed on the street, but here are some signs that could indicate you are being monitored:

Unusual behavior

If you notice someone who appears to be following you, especially if they are following the same route as you, it could be suspicious.

Frequent changes of direction

If you notice someone frequently changing direction with you, this could be a sign of following.

Frequent encounters

If you regularly see the same person in different places, this may be an indication of surveillance.

Mirrors and reflexes

Be aware of store mirrors, window displays or reflective surfaces. If you see the same person regularly in these reflections, it could be a sign.

Unusual people

Be alert to people who seem to have no apparent reason for being where they are.

Feeling unwell

If you feel uneasy or suspicious, listen to your intuition. If something seems unusual, it's best to be careful.

Question 10 :

How to recognize a private detective ?

Recognizing a private investigator can be difficult, as they are trained to operate discreetly and not arouse suspicion. However, here are some signs that might indicate someone is a private investigator:

Discreet outfit

Private investigators may choose to dress plain and discreet so as not to attract attention. This may include plain clothing without distinctive signs.

Discreet observation

A private investigator may appear to go unnoticed while observing their surroundings. He may avoid looking directly at the person he is watching and use techniques to remain discreet.

Use of electronic devices

A private investigator may wear electronic devices such as headphones or discreet communication devices to stay in contact with other members of their team.

Frequent changes of direction

If it seems like someone is changing direction every time you change yours, that could be an indicator of surveillance. However, this may also be due to other circumstances, so be careful before drawing conclusions.

Prolonged observation

If you notice someone constantly observing you over an extended period of time in different locations, this could raise suspicion.

Professional appearance

Although some private investigators choose to blend into the crowd with regular clothing, others can adopt a more professional appearance by wearing clothing appropriate to the occasion. /p>

Vigilant behavior

A person who seems constantly aware of their surroundings, frequently looks around, and avoids attracting attention may be an indicator.



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