Answering Writers’ Questions: Private Detectives, Stalking Charges and Credit Card Records
Posted by Writing PIs on August 15, 2013
Today we’re answering writers’ questions about tracking credit cards and what happens when law enforcement is called on a PI.
WRITER’S QUESTION: We often see in police shows that the cops or feds are keeping tabs on someone’s credit card and as soon as it’s used somewhere they’re alerted and close in on that location. First of all, would they get the info that quickly or would it be hours/days delay? Secondly, could a licensed PI access that information?
GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOE’S S ANSWER: No, PIs don’t have access to credit card transactions. Cops and feds would have pretty quick access (probably within approx. 30 minutes) to credit card transaction data because they would be working closely with investigators in the credit card fraud/security department.
WRITER’S QUESTION: If a PI is watching a person and that person clues in that they’re being
watched/followed and calls the police. If the police figure out it’s a PI, could the PI still be charged with stalking or something?
GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOE’S S ANSWER: We’ve had people call the police on several occasions, and our experience has been that as long as our communication with law enforcement is professional, there’s no problem. Steven Brown in his book THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO PRIVATE INVESTIGATING suggests a PI to be upfront when working a case, but to never give away the identity of who’s being surveilled (in fact, in the book he suggests saying it’s a totally different address being surveilled).
Stalking is when a person who is prohibited by a court order violates that court order. A PI who is acting lawfully and/or is working under the supervision of an attorney is specifically excluded from stalking. Saying that, this does not mean that the PI can burglarize, trespass, wiretap or eavesdrop the person they’re surveilling. Below is an article Colleen, one of the Gums, Gams, and Gumshoes PIs, wrote a few years back about PIs and stalking:
Pursuit Magazine: “When Does Surveillance Become Stalking?”
Related article on Guns, Gams and Gumshoes:
What to Do If You’re Stalked on Amazon or Anywhere on the Internet
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