NY Private Investigators and Liability of Skip Tracing Assignments

In recent years, the ny private investigators have come under the increasing scrutiny and pressure from privacy advocates, national and state lawmakers and perhaps most importantly attorneys and civil courts. Numerous courts have recently held that information brokers and private investigators can be liable for the harms caused by selling personal information without just cause or permissible reason. There have been several awards being meted out against private investigators that have unwittingly assisted a stalker in the location of his prey. In some instances clients have murdered the person the investigator was hired to find.

Is this increased scrutiny going to stop the business of private investigations on skip tracing? Not hardly, but as prudent people we should take precautions against giving information to potentially bad people with nefarious plans for any amount of money. We have a duty to protect the public to the extent that we should never facilitate the harm or death of the subjects of our private investigations. How do we accomplish this when we cannot always know the ultimate intent of our client with 100% certainty? We have to act responsibly.


For skip trace assignments on behalf of non-commercial clients that do not fall under permissible purposes as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, many ny private investigators have instituted a “Subject’s Right of Refusal,” which states that a client will not be given a subject’s sensitive or personal information, including their whereabouts, without the subject being notified of the investigation and given the opportunity to decide whether or not the information is shared with the client. We get the decision of the subject in writing as well. Keep in mind that this may steer some clients to go elsewhere for the investigation but if the client is not willing to follow this protocol then something is certainly wrong and so is your own personal well being and…

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