Beware The Unlicensed Investigator

A quick search on several classified ad websites in Alberta will show you a host of people offering “private investigation” services. Much like any other listings on these websites however, “buyer beware” should be any person’s mantra when viewing these listings. Employing a person with unverified license status and training can spell disaster for any potential client, personally as well as legally, opening up that client to a host of further legal problems.

An Overview Alberta’s Licensing for Investigators

Within the province of Alberta, all individuals and agencies are required to have a valid license supplied by the Solicitor General of Alberta.

Firstly, each investigator must be registered as an individual, which includes a criminal record check, and standardized, province-approved training. Next, an exam is taken to test the individual’s knowledge before they can receive their license.

The next step is for an individual, or a group of people interested in operating together, to register as an agency before they can legally begin offering their services to the public. This is an additional several step process, including (but not limited to), standard criminal record checks, vulnerable sector criminal record checks, proof of commercial insurance, and approval of marketing materials to name a few.

An individual license alone does not allow a private investigator to do business within the province of Alberta. Even if a person is acting as a sole-proprietor, an agency license is still required by that individual. If they are operating without that agency license, they are directly contravening the Security Services and Investigators Act of Alberta.

Protecting Your Investment

There many instances where a private investigator can help, whether it is a personal matter, or a legal one. A private investigator that is legally licensed is required to show you their government issued, photo identification if asked by any member of the public. If a person you are dealing with refuses to show you their license, or their license does not specify “investigator”, they are not operating within the law, which means they have not provided criminal record checks, most likely do not carry commercial insurance, and have not passed the required training and exam.

(Front and back of Investigator License. Click images to view larger examples. Images provided by Solicitor General of Alberta).

A person without these things can not only come from a dubious background, but without insurance can additionally land you in legal trouble as the contractor of those services.

An unlicensed investigator presents the further hazard of not being trained in Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (an integral part to Alberta’s investigator training), as well as not supplying useful information that could be used in court.

Choosing A Professional

Investigators and investigation agencies are professionals, and will conduct themselves as such. Remember, an ad that doesn’t supply you with a business name, individual name, or even telephone number, is probably suspect. A professional private investigator or investigation agency will always provide you with, and take pride in, providing you with their SSIA license number, and a multitude of ways to contact them.