We’ve written before about things that aren’t legal for a private investigator to do.
As licensed investigators, our actions are governed by Alberta’s Security Services and Investigators Act, the Personal Information Protection Act, and the Criminal Code. As Alberta Association of Private Investigators members, we are adhere to the Association’s Code Of Ethics. We are not interested in getting results for clients via illegal, immoral, or unethical means.
An investigator who performs these tasks, and the client who hired them, might find themselves facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.
1. Using a GPS tracking device.
This is actually something of a grey area. Depending on the circumstances, it might be legal. But it also might be criminal harassment, mischief, or a civil tort called “intrusion upon seclusion”. It’s a big risk to take, and no one wants to be on the wrong side of new case law. So, in general, we don’t use GPS tracking devices.
2. Obtaining a person’s credit report.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, the only reason a consumer reporting agency may disclose a person’s credit report without consent is to collect a debt. A private investigator obtaining an individual’s credit report for a background investigation, or to locate them, is a violation of this Act.
3. “Running” license plates.
Sometimes we actually get this request from other PIs outside Alberta, because in some places PIs can search Motor Vehicle records. But not in Alberta. The Registrar of Motor Vehicles in Alberta has been very clear that they will not allow licensed private investigators to search license plates.
4. Accessing police-only databases.
The Canadian Police Information Centre, or CPIC, is a law-enforcement only database. While it is not the only source for certain types of information, it is one source we cannot access. Unscrupulous investigators who use “police contacts” to obtain this information are breaking the law, as are the police officers who access it and possibly the clients who request it.
5. Obtaining medical records.
Sometimes this comes up in adoption search requests. But health information and medical records are private. We can’t find out someone’s medical history without their consent or a court order.