No industry is free from individuals that choose to do the wrong thing from time-to-time and this applies to private investigators as well. Unfortunately, there are those limited few that bring discredit to our profession and it often reflects badly on all of us.
Ethical, professional private investigators are always alert to conduct that may breach or violate ethical professional standards. Here is a simple decision making method to determine if your conduct during an investigation is ethical. This method is extremely important when the decision is not clear.
If you answer Yes to any of the questions above then you should not take that action. If you can answer No to all of these questions, there is a great chance that others will not question your conduct.
One question that often comes up from students, "Is there any situation where violating ethics acceptable, maybe more ethical?" This is a tricky question as it seems to imply the private investigator is conducting an unethical act when they learn something that is of such great importance to reveal that it would make the unethical act ethical. Our answer, considering the context of the question, is No - we are not aware of any "excuse" to make unethical conduct ethical. Otherwise the action(s) would be ethical at the time.
The biggest risk a private investigator takes when deciding to pursue an unethical or questionable action in their investigation is the harm that may be done to a client. This is unethical behavior aside from the action - creating risk for the client.
It's unfortunate that a few investigators decide to continue moving in the wrong direction when they know better, or are just not sure. When they do, and get caught, this reflects badly on them and badly on the private investigator profession. Any time the action is questionable, you are not sure if the answer is Yes or No, the best course of action is to find an alternative approach or discuss with legal counsel, or other trusted colleagues in your profession.
For fun, watch New York Private Investigator, Michael McKeever, by clicking here, Fact-Check some private investigator movies.
Pro PI staff
Experienced professionals and trainers.