- TREND WATCHING IN THE
PRIVATE INVESTIGATIVE PROFESSION
- What It Is-How To Do It To Grow Your Agency
- And Ten Major Trends You Should Be Watching
- By Ralph D. Thomas
- Who are the movers and shakers in the investigative industry today
and how did they get that way? That's a tuff question to answer but today's
successful investigative agency did something you might not have considered
doing yourself. It's called trend watching for investigative opportunity.
By keeping your thumb on major trends developing in the United States and
focusing in on these trends from a point of view that would involve a surge
in demand for investigative services, many agencies have emerged as leading
experts in these fields with thriving and well known investigative practices
simply because they were in them early and were able to establish themselves
as experts as the demand for the service started to swell. Trend shifts
are important to our industry because they almost always involve the emergence
of a new type of investigative service to offer to get involved in and
sometimes involve the identification or resurrection of a type of investigation
that will soon experience a surge in demand. To better illustrate what
I am getting at with this type of technique, let me give you some successful
examples from the recent past.
- Lessons From The Recent Past
- Examples of this type of thing from recent past history include: Video
surveillance procurement and the use of digital technology in worker's
compensation claims cases, online computer searching, predate checks and
pre-employment screening services.
- There was a time when video recording was so new that there was a question
concerning rather video surveillance footage could be admitted into evidence
in a court of law. However, investigative agencies such as Bill Zirorek's
In-Photo Surveillance based in Naperville Illinois who was one of the first
surveillance agencies to adopt video and digital technology into their
agency became one of the leading and one of the largest such agencies in
the world. Today, his agency controls a huge market share of insurance
fraud surveillance assignments because he forged ahead and developed the
latest and the best cutting edge techniques in investigating insurance
fraud by use of high-tech surveillance methods.
- In the 1980's those investigative agencies who recognized the fact
that online computer searches was a major information gathering trend and
got involved in the process early experienced mega growth. Today, some
of these computer data searchers have developed into major online information
services within the investigative community such as Jack Reid's IRSC. Others
had, for several years, maintained a leading edge in the market place in
information gathering simply because they recognized this trend to collect
information faster and cheaper and their retention of clients and bottom
lines reflect that strategy today.
- When the use of the polygraph was outlawed for pre-employment screening,
many investigative services saw a future trend in the demand for pre-employment
screening the old fashioned way-simple background checks. Those who marketed
such services to the businesses who had relied on the polygraph for pre-employment
screening after the use of the polygraph for such procedures was outlawed
by the federal government cleaned up in a big way for a long time.
- In the late 1980's a trend occurred in investigative assignments that
involved checking out potential dates and became known as premarital investigations.
Again, a few investigative agencies in the United States saw the emerging
trend early, offered and marketed the service and added zeros to the figures
on their bottom line.
- Many investigative agency start-ups today have a misconception on this
whole idea. With proper research of the market, they run into the agencies
who built their practice on a trend identified a few years ago and think
that all they have to do is copy the specialization idea and forge ahead
with a marketing program. Although many have become somewhat successful,
most never experience the mega-growth of the original agency they copied
simply because they are coming from behind and the original creator has
already gobbled up a huge segment of the market and has already fine-tuned
their operation and made it as flaw-free as it could be. The original one
is simply light years ahead of them in the business game. From this respect,
it's a good idea to develop your focus away from already successful investigative
agencies based on trends of the 1980's and see if you can identify trends
emerging today. That way, instead of attempting to develop a specialization
everyone else is attempting to copy, you'll be developing into areas that
are just now emerging as investigative trends and have a more wide-open
field in the market place.
- One of the best ways to identify trends in the market place is become
a news hound. By scanning headlines of major newspapers and magazines in
the United States, you'll be in a better position to ID new trends that
can be converted into an investigative specialization. It's important to
understand the difference between a trend and a fad. A trend has an everlasting
effect. A fad does not. A fad is based on a want and demand that is very
short lived. A trend is based on a shift in a process or a pattern of thinking.
Process trends and thinking trends are very different. The use of PC's
in today's world is a process trend. The country's belief that politicians
can not be trusted to run the country is a thinking trend. Both can sometimes
be used to develop your business.
- Once you spot an emerging trend, you need to conduct further analysis
of it. You'll want to answer questions based on what you came up with such
- How old is this trend? Is it just emerging now? Is it really a trend
or just a fad? How vast is the market place based on the trend? Can I identify
a major segment of the population or a specific profession that can be
easily reached to market this trend? Can I identify anyone already using
this trend in marketing the service? If so, how long have they been engaged
in it? What body of knowledge do I need to learn in order to enter this
area of investigative specialization? What type of equipment do I need
to become successful at performing the service?
- These types of questions will help you analyze the trend to determine
rather it could become a viable opportunity. This is a success secret you
can use again and again. The idea is to jump into an area of service you
see as a major trend now emerging and become the major force and expert
for that area of specialization. Based on this concept of trend watching,
I'd like to review some major trends that are now happening which could
provide opportunity for you.
NUSING HOME ABUSE INVESTIGATIONS
As the population of the United States gets older and older, more and more
people end up in nursing homes. In fact, the population of the elderly
in nursing homes is soaring. Although the abuse and mistreatment of elderly
people in nursing homes is appalling, it does occure and litigation cases
for this type of civil and criminal wrong are on the rise. Not only that,
these cases are usually amounting to million dollar rewards in our court
system.Kelly Riddle's new book, Nursing Home Abuse
Investigtions, reveals how to go about conducting such investigations
and a chance for you to learn about and develop a new area of private investigation
that is definately on the rise from an expert.
- COMPUTER SECURITY, DIGITAL DATA RECOVERY AND COMPUTER CRIME INVESTIGATION
- There now seems to be more computers on the plant earth than there
are people. Three emerging areas of investigative related specializations
are developing because of it. Think digital and relate that to services
you can offer and you'll quickly see opportunity. Here are some major subcatagories:
- Computer Security: The business world and personal word has
had a massive move from stored hardcopy files to digital files. Anybody
who is anyone uses a personal computer today. People are just starting
to find out that information on their personal computer is not secure.
Services offering computer security are popping up all over the place and
business is brisk. People want to know how to secure data on a computer
in the form of encryption, password protection, anti-virus protection and
online privacy protection. Security consulting services offering these
services are cleaning up.
- Investigators with computer skills are quickly learning that businesses
and individuals will pay consulting fees to select and install the right
kinds of computer programs that protect data on their computers.
- Digital Data Recovery: For the same reasons secure digital security
communications is booming, lawyers are finding that evidence that used
to be in hardcopy files are now in digital forms. In civil and criminal
cases, computer data information is becoming more and more important. Investigative
services are starting to specialize in digital data recovery from hard
drives and other computer storage.
- There are several national investigative firms that have emerged in
the United States that specialize in nothing but digital data recovery.
What's really important about this sort of thing is data trashed from a
hard drive is often times, still present. All the user has done is take
off the part of the file that makes it show up on the desktop. With the
proper diagnostic software tools, this data can be recovered.
- Computer Crime: The computer has become the new high-tech tool
for the modern criminal. Computer crimes have become the new form of victimization
and the new tool for frauds and con artists. Investigators who have developed
advanced computer skills are becoming cyber detectives in an assorted number
of further narrowed specializations. Perhaps the most famous and successful
of the cyber detectives of the end of this century is Joseph Seanor of
CIBIR Corporation based in the Washington DC area. By combining a background
with advanced computer knowledge and private investigation practice Mr.
Seanor has emerged as one of the world's leading authorities in this area
- For More Resources, Stop In At The Investigator's
Computer Resource Center
- For Books And Manuals On Computer Investigations,
For Books On The Internet For Investigator's,
- For Books And Manuals On Online Searching
For The Famous Net Book By Joseph Seanor, Click
- PAY FOR TV COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT
- The world of TV entertainment has changed. Pay for view TV is on the
rise. Millions of dollars are exchanging hands with sporting events. Many
public places such as sports bars pay a fee to broadcast certain events
in their business which draws in crowds. A new form of investigation has
emerged conducting spot checks of public places making sure that these
sports bars and other establishments who didn't pay to broadcast the important
event are not showing it without paying the fee.
- Most of these types of inspection services require networking with
people throughout the country getting independent agents to check certain
locations for contingency fees when violations occur. The emergence of
networked investigative groups on the internet and email make this quite
easy to do.
- As the world sees a major trend shift occur in the areas of pay for
TV instead of free channels, a new opportunity is emerging in the form
of catching cheats who want to steal TV viewing instead of pay for it.
It's quite a serious offense for a sports bar to refuse to pay to broadcast
a pay-for-view sports event and then steal the signal and broadcast it
publicly. They have violated the copyright laws of the United States. The
Sports event and television providers are loosing millions of dollars from
it. This new area of investigation and inspection service is making a huge
inroad in the detection of and prevention of loss of income.
- CHILD ABUSE INVESTIGATIONS
- The age of human rights reform in the United States has now filtered
down to the minor and the child. More attention is being paid to child
neglect and child abuse. It's a trend that is apparent in domestic issues,
state governmental agencies and both our civil and criminal court system.
The federal government recently reported that child abuse and neglect is
up twenty-seven percent. Investigative services are just now starting to
list this as one of their specializations.
- The investigation of child abuse and neglect is an emerging investigative
specialization that crosses traditional specializations of criminal and
civil investigations. Civil cases are found in domestic cases and criminal
cases are found as more charges of child abuse and various forms of child
neglect are being prosecuted. Opportunity for the private investigator
as a specialization in this area is found in both plaintiff and defendant
- It's apparent that the surge in child abuse and neglect is a symptom
of the pressure-cooking society we seem to live in these days. In the average
household, mom isn't home like she used to be. She's off working to hold
up the middle class status and help bring in the bacon for the high house
payments, car payments and outrageous income taxes and other taxes that
seem to be embedded into every bill that comes into the modern household
that must be paid every month. Who's watching the children? Part of the
time, the overwhelming majority of children are being babysit by third
parties that are in it as money making ventures. This, in and of itself,
has created environments in which opportunity for child abuse and neglect
occur. Moreover, when parents are unsuccessful and placed in financial
pressure-cookers to keep the middle class status and things aren't going
good, it's sometimes taken out on the children in the form of neglect and
- For The Vary Latest Training Information
On The Trend, Click Here
- ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION
- In the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
reports that there is one automobile crash every five seconds, one property
damage accident every eight seconds, one injury every ten seconds and one
traffic fatality every 13 minutes. As the population and traffic congestion
has surged, so has the number of serious accidents. With about 17,280 accidents
a day in the United States, almost all of these end up as insurance claims
and a large portion of them end up as litigation cases jamming our civil
courts. Accident investigation is booming! It's become a rather technical
area of investigative expertize but something that any investigative agency
could easily jump into.
- Accident investigation has become more sophisticated involving superior
scene and vehicle photography, inspection and reconstruction. The use of
formulas and proper equipment is a must. Accident investigators are turning
into litigation consultants and reconstructionists with hourly rates moving
into the $85.00 per hour to $100.00 per hour plus range. Many of these
types of litigation cases are bringing in investigative fees of $3,000
to $5,000 or more per case assignment.
- About gone are the days when an attorney or an insurance company would
hand an investigator a case assignment merely asking for scene photos.
Accident investigation has become very sophisticated involving the use
of technical mathematical analysis and indepth reconstruction techniques
as well as detailed analysis and legal photography of physical evidence.
Technical expertize is needed and specialized equipment more advanced than
ever before but those willing to master the body of knowledge needed will
find no problem with case assignments considering there are about 17,280
accidents a day.
- For The Vary Latest Training Information
On The Trend, Click Here
For More Accident Investigation Resources, Click
- EXECUTIVE PROTECTION
- With the emergence of the global economy, more and more people are
engaged in travel outside of their own country. International terrorism
and international crime is on the rise. Executive and bodyguard protection
is experiencing an increase in demand because executives of all types are
requiring more and more international travel. The entertainment industry
also operates in the international market place more and more and celebrities
are engaged in international travel more often. More and more executive
protection specialists are needed and many investigative and security services
that are meeting this brisk demand are experiencing mega-growth within
- In the past, any huge person, usually a male, could be used as a bodyguard.
The rules have changed. Self protection of executives and celebrities now
rely on not only mere size but the use of specialized techniques and procedures.
The protection specialist of today is more than just a bodyguard. His job
has extended to that of personal security manager. Overall security procedures
such as premises security techniques and information countermeasures techniques
have become interwoven within this area of specialization. The professional
bodyguard of today needs a body of knowledge encompassing a broad range
of physical and technical security techniques and equipment. Benefits of
the professional include high pay and free worldwide travel that often
include the best of everything.
For The Vary Latest Training Information On The
Trend, Click Here
- BUSINESS INVESTIGATIONS AND INTELLIGENCE GATHERING
- The new federal law which makes it a crime to steal company trade secrets
called the Economic Espionage Act is the tip of the iceberg on the demand
for business investigations. The investigation of a business is very different
from the investigation of an individual. In lots of ways, a business is
more of an open book that an individual. However, the investigation of
a business requires specialized sources of information and investigative
- As the major shift from an economy driven by information instead of
hard assets is taking hold, more and more businesses have determined it's
vital for survival to know their markets, understand who the players in
their markets are and know as much about the players in that market as
they can. The small business has become the backbone of the nation. There
are more independent business owners today than ever before. Their life
has become interwoven with their business. A background check on small
business owners will almost always require an investigation into the small
business itself. All of this has jump started swelling case numbers of
private investigations that include investigation of a business and skills
on how to conduct the investigation of a business is a must have.
- For The Vary Latest Training Information On
The Trend, Click Here
- COUNTERMEASURES SECURITY
- You can talk with a cross-section of private investigators in the market
place today and find many who attempted countermeasures services in the
past only to come to a conclusion that there wasn't much of a market for
it but the world has changed. The detection of bugs and wiretaps is surging
again like it did in the 1970's. However, in the 1970's the demand for
countermeasures services was based on a thinking shift of American business
fueled by Watergate. It was more of a paranoia in the business world. Today,
the trend is a process trend fueled by the fact that illegal bugging is
cheap and easy to do and based on the shift in the driving force of the
economy to information.
- In the international market place of today, even the federal government
is coming to the realization that military allies of the United States
are many times our economic enemy. The protection of company information
has become a matter of survival in the business world and the ever-increasing
demand for information and countermeasures security services is now worldwide.
It's now filtering down to small business and individuals simply because
more businesses and more people are now information driven and they have
learned they must protect both their information and their communication.
NAIS member Larry Elem Of American Detectives based in Austin, Texas started
offering countermeasures services several years ago and it's now accounting
for a major chunk of his overall operation. Kelley Riddle of Kelmar And
Associates based in San Antonio, Texas recently upgraded his countermeasures
equipment and training because his firm, which specializes in insurance
surveillance, is getting at last one assignment per week for countermeasures
services and a recent one day job billing out at almost $2,000.
- For The Very Latest Manual On Conducting Countermeasures,
- For GREAT Resources On Countermeasures, Click
- The repossession market has always been a lucrative market with an
active demand in most areas of the country. The emergence of Professional
Repossessor, a national slick magazine for the professional recovery industry,
is a good sign that the auto repossession industry is entering the modern
age. As increases in the number of consumer loans of automobiles, boats,
RVs and airplanes continues to climb as well as the prices on them, so
does the increase in the number of defaulted loans and thus demand for
repossession. There are more financed vehicles of all types on the roadways
today than at any other time in the history of the United States and this
has spurred more repossession assignments.
- When you look at trends in the automobile industry, you'll find several
interesting facts. In recent years, new vehicle prices have soared. Instead
of typical three and four year notes on vehicles which was about all a
lending institution would go, those loans have been extended to five and
six years. Fewer people can pay cash for them, longer loans are given and
the American public is about stuck with the fact that about the time a
vehicle is paid off, it's time to get another. Thus, Americans have become
accustomed to the idea of never having a paid for vehicle driving down
the roadway. This has become a major trend. The load companies and banks
love it and business for them is great. However, with the surge in almost
all vehicles on the highways title-owned by the banks and lending institutions
and not the drivers- it stands to reason that there are more and more defaulted
loans because there are more of them given and, thus, more and more repossession
- There's no dought about it, the demand for auto repossession services
is up and those who are good at it are experiencing brisk business growth.
Auto repossession assignments come from banks and lending institutions.
Most agencies branch out into other areas of specializations such as the
repossession of boats, semi-trucks and aircraft as well as credit cards
mainly because their clients also have a need for these types of repossession
Click Here For A New Manual Just Released On How
To Enter The Lucrative
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- BAIL ENFORCEMENT RECOVERY
- Talk with any investigator who used to conduct auto repossessions but
now engage is bail enforcement recovery and they will tell you that they
graduated from the repossession of vehicles to the repossession of people.
The use of independent recovery agents in the private bail bond industry
has taken another increasing turn. More and more investigative agencies
are reporting that they are specializing in it. Bail bond agencies are
finding that a good independent agent who knows what they are doing are
helpful to their business leaving them to focus on screening and writing
the bail bond. A recent study of what investigative agencies are specializing
in in the United States shows that more and more are listing bail bond
recovery as a major mainstay specialization.
- The bail bond recovery business is quite unique and interesting. The
bail bond agency makes it's income from writing bonds to let people out
of jail. They make about ten percent of the face amount of the bond. However,
if the bond skips, the bail bond company and the insurance company the
bonding agency writes for is libel for the total face amount of the bond
if the skip is not recovered. Without successful recovery efforts made,
bail bond companies would soon be out of business overwhelmed by bills
from the criminal courts for bail bond skips that did not appear at their
- The number of people wanting to be in this business has surged spurred
on by television programs about it. In Florida, the laws have changed authorizing
only professionals who are licensed bail bond agents to be recovery agents.
Many times, busy bail bond offices secure their bonds by getting relatives
to give them mortgages to houses and liens on vehicles. Thus, many times,
today's recovery agent is working for relatives of the skip.
- Professional bail recovery agent business appears to be brisk. Many
report that it's a very hard business to break into. However, those with
established and superior skip trace skills will find no problem obtaining
- For The Vary Latest Training Manual On Bail Bond
Recovery, Click Here!
For More Resources On Bail Bond Recovery, Click
- TRACING MISSING HEIRS
- Tracing missing heirs is a kind of hidden are of specialization that
is often overlooked and misunderstood by most investigators. Probate records
are researched for cases with no known heirs to the estate and the tracer's
job then becomes one of locating heirs and proving that they are a legal
heir to an estate. As the population swells and that population gets older
and older, more deaths occur. That's exactly the situation in the United
States today. When you couple that with other known general facts such
as the emergence of affluence, you'll note more and more estate and probate
cases with escalating amounts of funds.
- Tracing missing heirs is so profitable, those who develop this as an
investigative specialization have attempted to institute a kind of code
of silence about it so other investigators would stay away from and misunderstand
the opportunity. Small independent operators can sometimes take in well
over $100,000 per year in this area. The missing heirs specialist usually
works on a percentage of the estate which is usually around ten percent.
When you start seeing estates worth tens of thousands of dollars, one can
quickly see the profitability of this area of investigative specialization.
- To Learn How To Develop More Knowledge On This
Major Trend, Click Here!
- A SIDEBAR AND ALARMING GENERAL TREND
- AS a sidebar, I would like to add on overall trend for the investigative
industry that's good in many respects and bad in other ways. It's my opinion
as a trend watcher that the entire world seems to be focusing on appearance
instead of actual substance. That is, the way things appear on the surface
seems to have become the trend for the end of this century and supersede
the real truth. As people are bombarded by information and most only have
the time to see surface issues anyway, no one seems to be seeing or getting
anything other than the way things appear. If you haven't noticed, from
mainstream news to bills introduced in congress and just about everything
else, it all appears to be more shallow that it once was. There's more
news and more bills so quality is substituted for quantity. We humans,
running around America with little time on our hands have become by-products
of the fast food and soundbit news generation that's moving and changing
so fast, almost everyone experiences futureshock which is the inability
of one to keep up with the way things are. That's good for the overall
investigative industry because it's our job to dig more deeply getting
past the way things appear to be and report and sort out the way things
actually are. It's bad from the standpoint that the movers and shakers
who practice appearance instead of substance have caught on to the fact
that it's the private investigators of the world who can dig deeper, report
the real truth and make the cherished appearance-only surface issues so
many today seem to reply on for their misguided success disappear. They
simply don't want private investigators digging around for the real truth
and under the pretext of privacy for Americans, are attempting to pass
laws that would restrict the rights of Americans to obtain the real truth
and restrict the private investigative effort to do it.
- With that said, I hope you'll consider becoming a trend watcher yourself
and hope you've obtained a better understanding of the way things work
when it comes to choosing what types of investigation to specialize in.
Of the major trends I have identified, you'll learn more about them from
new books from Thomas Investigative Pubications, Inc. by various authors
who are experts in these areas of specializations.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ralph Thomas is founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative
Specialists, Inc and president of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc.
the world's leading publisher of professional books and manuals for private
investigators. Many books and manuals deal with areas of investigation
considered to be major trends in private investigation. To obtain your
own copy of the Investigative Technology Catalog which reviews hundreds
of such books and contains descriptions of equipment, badges and other
related products for the professional investigator, send $5.00 refundable
with first order to: Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc., P O Box 33244,
Austin, Texas 78764. Phone 512-420-9292 Fax 512-420-9393
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