I know that you can only work with the tools that are available to you.
Think about this for a moment. As a private investigator – you are given information by a client as a starting point. If you are like me, there is a about a 30-40% chance that some of that information is not correct. A name will be spelled incorrectly or it will be the wrong name altogether. An address given will be incorrect. Dates, times, and anything involving a number seems to have a higher chance of being incorrect than other basic information.
This is why it is so important to get as much information as possible. This was the investigator can cross-check the information so as to start the investigation in the right place or with the right person. It may not be the investigator’s fault that (s)he was given bad information. The problem is, the client rarely sees it that way. This is also why written information is so much better to go on than verbal. When you have a written request – it is obvious what you were asked to do.
Diligence vs. Diligence
Diligence – I have harped on this before. You need to be at least diligent in all that you do. I do not mean the legal definition of diligence. You do not want to rely on what some information database gives to you alone. Remember to actually investigate. Talk to people. Make phone calls. Check other sources of records. Diligence is rarely specifically defined in a legal sense. When it is, it usually does not require all that much.
Some legal dictionaries say things like: “diligence n. reasonable care or attention to a matter, which is good enough to avoid a claim of negligence, or is a fair attempt (as in due diligence in a process server's attempt to locate someone).” Or something like "due diligence is a measure of prudence, activity, or assiduity, as is properly to be expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a reasonable and prudent person under the particular circumstances; not measured by any absolute standard but depends on the relative facts of the special case."
Legal diligence basically is “just enough to not get sued” or what is “expected.” I hope that you do more that what is expected. Strive for excellence. That is how I handle all of my cases, from the background check, a process service, or a homicide. I have to work within the constraints of the client’s budget, but that does not mean I will do a half-a$$ed job. I may not be able to put in all the hours I would like for a case, but what hours I do put in, they will be productive ones.
I have noticed that it seems I get the job done in less time than a lot of investigators out there. When you are doing your job in an effective manner, you will do it faster than someone just billing hours. I am not talking about surveillance, because we all have no control over the subject of the investigation. We have to wait for him or her to make their move.
You can be diligent, as described in a regular dictionary: “constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything or done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.” That is a good thing. It is a much better practice than the “legal” definition of diligence. When in doubt – do your best!
And whatever you so - Stay Safe!