As private investigators, we’re frequently asked to do things that are not legal for us to do – and in fact, not legal for anybody to do, whether they are a private investigator or not.
Being fully licensed, and governed by a code of ethics, there are some things that not only are illegal for us to do, but also unethical. Be wary of any so-called private investigator who may claim to perform any of these tasks. If they are found committing these acts, not only might they be liable for criminal charges, the client who hired them can also be found responsible, and have charges laid against them.
1. Taking photos of a subject inside a house, or inside a fenced back yard.
Canada has some of the strictest privacy laws in the world, and one of the central themes around these laws are “is there a reasonable expectation of privacy?” Somebody inside their home, or even in their back yard, has a reasonable expectation of privacy, which means snapping of photograph of them inside their house or within the confines of a back yard is considered a breach of that privacy.
2. Monitoring Telecommunications: tapping phones, getting text messages, or reading emails.
Again, similar to the first point above, an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy when talking on the phone, or receiving and sending telecommunications. Breaking into any device and monitoring conversations is a breach of that, and considered illegal wire-tapping in Canada.
3. Hacking Into Social Media.
Quite often we get asked to hack into somebody’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media account to see what the person has been doing. But quite plainly, hacking into a private account is illegal in Canada (along with many, many other countries).
4. Debt collecting.
In Alberta specifically, debt collection cannot be performed by a private investigator. While we can assist you in locating a person for a civil claim or upcoming litigation, we cannot go to that person and request funds on your behalf.
5. Getting Banking Information.
There are ways in Canada, and Alberta, to obtain certain financial information of an individual, but bank accounts, credit cards, and specific banking activity and balances is strictly confidential in Canada – nobody but the account holder, and in certain cases, if a court order has been issued for the person to release that information, can any individual, a private investigator included, obtain that information without that person’s express permission.