There are lots of different names for private investigators.

P.I., private detective, private eye, gumshoe, sleuth, inquiry agent, private dick, skip tracer, bounty hunter, Sherlock, and more.

What’s the difference?

In most cases, it just depends on what they do. For example, a skip tracer is someone who specialises in locating someone who has ‘skipped’ town. A bounty hunter is someone who captures fugitives for a bounty or commission.

Here in NZ we don’t have bounty hunters, that is a very US specific role. We also tend to use just the one term of ‘private investigator’ for anyone who makes enquiries or conducts investigations on behalf of someone else, and charges for their services.

Private investigators who have previously worked as police detectives will sometimes call themselves private detectives, but this is not that common in NZ. Mainly because we need to be very careful not to inadvertently give someone the impression that we are police officers. This is a serious offence.

As private investigators in NZ, we have no more rights than an ordinary citizen. Theoretically any individual can conduct their own private investigation. However the advantages of using a proper licensed private investigator are the specific skills and experience, professionalism, objectivity, networks, and access to databases and information.

Generally something that is important enough to warrant an investigation, is worth getting a professional private investigator in for.