While state-of-the-art spy tools are what most people envision when they think of a private investigators toolchest, most of the critical tools that we use on a daily basis are straight off-the-shelf products. While these tools are not nearly as cool as a bionic ear dish or a portable voice changer, we would have a tough time doing our job without them:
Advanced Google Searches
Given the explosion of what you can find on the web, Google may seem like an obvious choice considering it is far and away the most popular search engine out there, but many people don’t 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. This is just one of many advanced search operators that you can use with Google.
There are many advantages of using Skype including free domestic calls, extremely cheap international calls and video conferencing where you can have a video chat with multiple parties. Additionally, Skype has various third party add-on’s, one of the best is the ability to record phone calls. We use Pamela Call Recorder which can turn any conversation into a MP3. Just be careful that you are not breaking the law; laws vary in each state with regard to taping phone calls.
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 science fiction movies, but not anymore. Scanning hundreds, if not thousands of pages of documents into searchable digital files, can save you hours of pouring through paper documents. We particularly love 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 has many uses. For paper intensive cases, 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. We use the Adobe Acrobat Standard, which we have found is reliable and very functional, despite a hefty price tag.
Having tons 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.