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Knowing private investigator laws and private investigator legal issues is imperative for Private Investigators, Attorneys, Businesses and Private Parties too. Here you will find resources that govern private investigator practices by statutes, codes and case law, as well as penalties for unethical and unlawful activity. We hope you find them helpful. Check back often as privacy and other laws are in a state of flux and this page will be updated frequently. This information is for guideline purposes only. As always, consult an appropriate attorney for private investigator laws and private investigator legal issues if there is any questions about possible "gray areas."


Private Investigator Laws and Deceptive Business Practices (including Financial)

 

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act - Pretexting Law
"The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is a pretexting law tht prohibits "pretexting," the use of false pretenses, including fraudulent statements and impersonation, to obtain consumers personal financial information, such as bank balances. This law also prohibits the knowing solicitation of others to engage in pretexting."

Obtaining Financial Information - Pretexting Law
A statement by the Federal Trade Commission before the Committee on Banking and Financial Issues, U.S. House of Representatives, on pretexting law and deceptive business practices.
PI Magazine Interviews the FTC on Pretexting - Deceptive Business Practices
The Federal Trade Commission clarifies its position on private investigators, pretexting law and deceptive business practices.
Food Lion Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC - Deceptive Business Practices
1998 U.S. Court of Appeals opinion overturns NC District Court that found Capital Cities/ABC Inc. in violation of Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act in a case of an undercover sting.


Private Investigator Legal Issues: Defamation of Character

 

Summers v. Binns, Jackson, Alexander, Stevens - Defamation Cases
1999 Oregon Court of Appeals decision related to investigators' defamation in course of child custody case.


Private Investigator Laws of Privacy: Wiretapping and Hidden Recording Devices

 

 Federal Wiretap Act
 Details federal prohibitions and penalties regarding Wire and Electronic Communications Interception and Oral Communications Interception.

Oregon Laws Related to Wiretapping and In-Person Conversation Recording   
"It is illegal in Oregon to obtain or attempt to obtain any part of a telecommunication or radio communication to which a person is not a participant by means of any device, unless consent is given by at least one participant."
"It is also illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain any part of a conversation (face-to-face communication) by means of any device, if all participants in the conversation are not "specifically informed" that their conversation is being obtained."
Washington Laws Related to Wiretapping and In-Person Conversation Recordings
"Washington requires the consent of all parties to intercept or record a private conversation or communication by any device (electronic or otherwise) designed to record or transmit. The act applies to face-to-face conversations and to communications transmitted by telephone (including out-of-state and cordless telephone calls), telegraph, radio or other devices."
All States' Statutes Related to Wiretapping and Hidden Recording Devices
Covers all states' statutes regarding phone wiretapping, hidden audio recording devices and video recording. Includes exceptions to laws.


Private Investigator Laws of Privacy: Access To Credit Reports

 

Fair Credit Reporting Act Includes information on permissible purposes of credit reports, conditions of disclosure of consumer reports, obtaining credit reports under false pretenses and civil liability for willful or negligent non-compliance.

2002 Washington State Court of Appeals opinion relating to investigator obtaining credit report for client and whether it was permissible usage or obtaining credit report under false pretenses.


Private Investigator Laws of Privacy: Trespass and Invasion of Privacy

 

Liability of Attorney or Spouse For Torts Committed by Investigators
Explores the "unreasonably intrusive" investigation in general and specific to divorce proceedings. Includes recent court opinions.

Furman v. Sheppard 1998 Maryland Court of Appeals dissenting opinion as to whether investigator trespass at private club for videotaping of personal injury claimant constitutes invasion of privacy.

Plaxico v. Michael
1999 Mississippi Court of Appeals affirming opinion that investigator's telescopic videotaping into bedroom of lesbian lovers in custody suit did not constitute invasion of privacy due to "best interest of child" defense.

Miller v. Brooks
1996 North Carolina Court of Appeals affirming opinion that estranged wife and investigator placing hidden camera in estranged husband's bedroom at residence she had vacated constitutes invasion of privacy and trespassing