Five Private Investigation Tools Anyone Can Use

Tips from a Private Investigator

In our last post (Facebook: The PI Friend) we already covered how useful Facebook and other social media sites can be great private investigation toosl not only for a Private Investigator but for anyone wanting to carry out their own private investigations.

Most people probably think of state of the art spy tools when they think of private investigation tools. This is true to some extent – IPIA (and our sister agency BEPIA) uses advanced cameras and recording equipment, bionic ear dishes and portable voice changers. We also have access to forensic laboratories

The foundation of our work though is really built on tools that are common and available from many places (if not free) and not just specialised shops. Without these tools it would be difficult to operate.

Five Private Investigation Tools Anyone Can Use

Advanced Google Searches

You can find almost anything on the web, and therefore Google may seem like an obvious choice  as a private investigation tool considering it is by far the most popular search engine out there.

Similar though to IPIA’s post on Facebook as a private investigation tool (Facebook: The PI Friend) not too many people know how to take full advantage of the advanced capabilities of Google.

For example the “Around” feature will search for two terms within a specific number of words near each other, the “site” operator will search a specific website for terms and the “-” (minus sign) operator will exclude a term.  These are  just a few of many advanced search operators that you can use with Google.


Skype of course is good for free skype to skype calling, very cheap international calls and video conferencing where you can have a video chat with many people.

Additionally, Skype as a private investigation tool, has various third party add-on’s, one of the best is the ability to record phone calls.  IPIA uses different free add-on applications that can turn any conversation into a MP3 recording.  Be careful here though – you could be breaking the law if you try this yourself. Laws vary in different countries with regards to recording phone calls.

Digital Scanner

This may be an off the shelf   as a private investigation tool but it is not that cheap. Still it is openly accessible to anyone. Having the ability to scan hundreds of pages of documents in a matter of minutes used to be the kind of stuff you would see in James Bond movies, but not anymore.  Scanning hundreds, if not thousands of pages of documents into searchable digital files, can save hours of  looking over paper documents.  IPIA uses the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500; it’s portable, scans both sides of the page in one pass and it’s fast and reliable.

PDF Converter and OCR Software

Converting documents into PDF compatible files can be very useful.  In Indonesia in particular most cases produce lots and lots of paper. Therefore having the ability to store digital files into a searchable format can be a huge timesaver and can help you find documents quickly and easily.  IPIA uses the Adobe Acrobat Standard, which is reliable and very functional, despite a hefty price tag.

Google Desktop

Having hundreds (if not thousands) of digital files can be a problem if you don’t know where they are.  Google Desktop constantly scans your hard drive, Internet history and your emails so you will never “lose” anything ever again.

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