Melendez & Associates, Investigations
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you have questions about hiring a private investigator, chances are that many people have asked the same questions before you. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear often:
What is a private investigator? What does a private investigator do?
A private investigator is a professional who is employed to collect intelligence and verify or discredit information. Many professional investigators possess law enforcement backgrounds or other experience and education that they leverage to investigate and research.
From the The US Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook (2014 Edition)
Private detectives and investigators offer many services, including executive, corporate, and celebrity protection; pre-employment verification; and individual background profiles. Some investigate computer crimes, such as identity theft, harassing e-mails, and illegal downloading of copyrighted material. They also provide assistance in criminal and civil liability cases, insurance claims and fraud cases, child custody and protection cases, missing-persons cases, and premarital screening. They are sometimes hired to investigate individuals to prove or disprove infidelity.
Private detectives and investigators may use many methods to determine the facts in a case. Much of their work is done with a computer. For example, they often recover deleted e-mails and documents. They also may perform computer database searches or work with someone who does. Computers allow investigators to quickly obtain huge amounts of information, such as records of a subject’s prior arrests, convictions, and civil legal judgments; telephone numbers; information about motor vehicle registrations; records of association and club memberships; social networking site details; and even photographs.
Detectives and investigators also perform various other types of surveillance or searches. To verify facts, such as an individual’s income or place of employment, they may make phone calls or visit a subject’s workplace. In other cases, especially those involving missing persons and background checks, investigators interview people to gather as much information as possible about an individual. Sometimes investigators go undercover, pretending to be someone else in order to get information or to observe a subject inconspicuously. They even arrange to be hired in businesses to observe workers for wrongdoing.
Most detectives and investigators are trained to perform physical surveillance, which may be high tech or low tech. They may observe a site, such as the home of a subject, from an inconspicuous location or a vehicle. Using photographic and video cameras, binoculars, cell phones, and GPS systems, detectives gather information on an individual. Surveillance can be time consuming.
The duties of private detectives and investigators depend on the needs of their clients. In cases that involve fraudulent workers’ compensation claims, for example, investigators may carry out long-term covert observation of a person suspected of fraud. If an investigator observes the person performing an activity that contradicts injuries stated in a worker’s compensation claim, the investigator would take video or still photographs to document the activity and report it to the client.
Detectives and investigators must be mindful of the law in conducting investigations. They keep up with Federal, State, and local legislation, such as privacy laws and other legal issues affecting their work. The legality of certain methods may be unclear, and investigators and detectives must make judgment calls in deciding how to pursue a case. They must also know how to collect evidence properly so that they do not compromise its admissibility in court.
Private detectives and investigators often specialize. Those who focus on intellectual property theft, for example, investigate and document acts of piracy, help clients stop illegal activity, and provide intelligence for prosecution and civil action. Other investigators specialize in developing financial profiles and carrying out asset searches. Their reports reflect information gathered through interviews, investigation and surveillance, and research, including reviews of public documents.
Computer forensic investigators specialize in recovering, analyzing, and presenting data from computers for use in investigations or as evidence. They determine the details of intrusions into computer systems, recover data from encrypted or erased files, and recover e-mails and deleted passwords.
Legal investigators assist in preparing criminal defenses, locating witnesses, serving legal documents, interviewing police and prospective witnesses, and gathering and reviewing evidence. Legal investigators also may collect information on the parties to a litigation, take photographs, testify in court, and assemble evidence and reports for trials. They often work for law firms or lawyers.
Corporate investigators conduct internal and external investigations for corporations. In internal investigations, they may investigate drug use in the workplace, ensure that expense accounts are not abused, or determine whether employees are stealing assets, merchandise, or information. External investigations attempt to thwart criminal schemes from outside the corporation, such as fraudulent billing by a supplier. Investigators may spend months posing as employees of the company in order to find misconduct.
Financial investigators may be hired to develop confidential financial profiles of individuals or companies that are prospective parties to large financial transactions. These investigators often are certified public accountants (CPA) who work closely with investment bankers and other accountants. They also might search for assets in order to recover damages awarded by a court in fraud or theft cases.
Why hire a professional private investigator?
Professional private investigators are adept at analyzing a situation and finding the best starting point. From there, they rely on experience, knowledge and technology to uncover information and follow the trail of evidence wherever it leads. Investigators are trained in legally and ethically obtaining information which they present in a manner that is admissible in court. Instead of trying to investigate on your own and risking legal trouble or other problems, or hiring an unqualified person, trust your investigation to a qualified, experienced professional.
Hiring a private investigator
What qualifications should an investigator have?
When hiring a private investigator there are things you should be aware of. Requirements for private investigators vary from state to state. Many states require licenses, insurance, continuing education or other credentials, or a combination of those things. In Washington State all private investigators must be licensed under RCW 18.165 and must be insured. When hiring an investigator, you should make sure the person has the required credentials in the area where the investigation will take place.
Melendez & Associates Investigations, Inc.
WA State Investigative Agency License #1570
George Melendez - WA State Armed Private Investigators License #2760
Registered Legal Process Server, King County Reg. #1016092-764025
WA State UBI #602773754
How to work with a private investigator
After you choose an investigator to handle your case, the professional will typically consult with you to learn more about the situation. Any information you can provide will give the investigator a good idea of where to begin. As the case progresses, the investigator should provide you with detailed status updates to let you know what is happening. At the conclusion of the case, the investigator will present you with a report that contains relevant information and evidence obtained during the investigation.
We’re always available to answer your questions, so please contact us at 425-829-6380 or e-mail us if you need more information about an investigation.
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Melendez & Associates, Investigations serve clients in the Seattle area and throughout Washington, including Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Spokane, Federal Way, Kent, Bellingham, Renton, Redmond, Kirkland, Auburn, Edmonds, Puyallup, Lynnwood, Bothell, Yakima, Mercer Island, Kenmore, Issaquah and Woodinville, as well as all cities within King County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, Pierce County, Island County, Western Washington, the Pacific Northwest and the Puget Sound area.