A professional investigator will do all within their power and within the law to get needed information for their clients. Often though the law restricts what would otherwise be an excellent tool for gathering very relevant information for a case. Many people ask “Can a private investigator tap your phone” because it seems like an obvious method for gathering valuable information. But wiretapping is one tool the federal and state governments both heavily restrict.
Can a Private Investigator Tap Your Phone?
Many private investigators are skilled at placing wiretaps. Back in the day when landline phones were the norm, wire taping was a matter of splicing into the physical phone wiring to eaves drop on conversations. Modern techniques involve intercepting signals sent between cell towers and mobile devices. When a client asks “Can a private investigator tap your phone”, what they’re really asking is if wiretapping is legal for PI’s.
18 US Code 2511, also known as the Wiretap Act, is the federal statute that protects private communications that occur by way of telephones. The law can be applied to more than just phone calls, though. The Wiretap Act makes it a federal crime to use of any “device” to purposefully and intentionally intercept, disclose, or use the contents of any wire, oral, or electronic communication.
You can probably imagine all of the situation in which this law would apply. Most states also have their own laws that closely mirror the federal statute.
The only two exception to the Wiretap Act are the individual communication carriers and law enforcement. A telephone company can monitor and record phone communications when directed to do so by law enforcement or to help a customer with service related issues. Law enforcement can conduct wiretapping when granted authority by a court order or to record government informants.
What About Getting Phone Records?
Even if a PI can’t outright tap a phone line, with the clients help an investigator can find out who owns the numbers on incoming and outgoing calls. A client with lawful access to their own phone records can turn these records over to be analyzed by the investigator. A professional private investigator should have access to at least one reputable database, but most PI’s have a handful of databases to use for tracking down information. Anyone of the proprietary databases available to PI’s can be used to reference the owner of a given telephone number. This way an investigator can put names to all the received and dialed phone numbers to a specific phone line.
The Bottom Line
Clients may ask for phone tap services to either gather information for court or to simply embarrass the person being monitored. A professional private investigator would never suggest tapping a phone for any reason and will not comply with the request. Even the less technical service of simply recording a phone conversation can be illegal in two party consent states like California (meaning all persons involved in a conversation must consent to the recording.
H7 Investigative Services conducts private investigations in Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, and throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
If you want to know how our agency can help with your case, click through to our consultation request page or call us at (661)454-7513.