What is detective work

Detective work vs. data protection: professionals know what is allowed.

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Anyone hiring a detective usually has good reasons to do so. To be more precise: there has to be a “legitimate interest” in order to hire a detective agency. Detectives are obliged to document the declared legitimate interest of their clients. The basis for this is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into force on May 25, 2018.

But even before that, professional detective agencies worked seriously, because in order to be recognized as evidence in court, very specific requirements must be adhered to. If the legal limits are exceeded in the finding of evidence, these have no validity in court and will not be taken into account.
Theft, fraud, burglary - detectives can help to track down criminals.


The basis for investigative work by detectives


The GDPR gives private law investigators clear guidelines. Article 6 letter f of the regulation states that data processing in the context of investigative work is permitted “to safeguard the legitimate interests” of the client.

For professional detective agencies such as the Lentz Group, which has its own company locations in many cities in Germany and abroad, the new regulation is practically "old hat", because the company's investigators have been following a guideline since 2017, the content of which goes beyond the scope of the Go beyond GDPR. We are talking about DIN SPEC 33452, which is currently in the form of a request for the development of a DIN SPEC according to the PAS procedure at the German Institute for Standardization.

Data protection from the start: application review according to the letters of the law

What is generally described in the GDPR as "safeguarding legitimate interests" needs solid suspicions in practice. Detective agencies are not allowed to take action without further ado. This is important to protect individuals and companies, otherwise anyone could spy on anyone for no good reason. ‚That would open the door not only to stalkers, but also to all kinds of re-enactments and therefore cannot be in the interests of our profession. ‘, Says the managing director of the detective agency Lentz & Co. GmbH, Marcus Lentz.

Imagine a neighbor wants to find out details about the nightly activities in the neighboring house - out of sheer curiosity. Or a company boss lets a competitor spy on in order to find something in his private life that discredits his competitor. Even that is not possible with a serious detective agency.

Is he cheating or not cheating? This question can be answered.

If, on the other hand, it comes to the fact that a wife has a concrete suspicion that her husband has been cheating on her for a long time, which she can substantiate, for example, on the basis of bills from the joint credit card account, detectives are allowed to take action. Even if, for example, property damage occurs to the house despite extensive burglary protection, detectives can help track down the perpetrators.

Another reasonable suspicion would be if the manager of a company, based on suspicious bookings or other irregularities, concludes that the accountant is embezzling money. Suspected fraud by participants in a live poker event in order to collect winnings with unfair measures can also be checked with the support of detectives - provided that the suspicion can be clearly defined.

Client and detective are both responsible for ensuring that the GDPR is complied with. For this reason, it is advisable to work with an expert detective agency. There, the detectives examine the suspicion expressed to see whether it represents a legitimate interest within the meaning of the applicable regulations and also explain if this is not the case. The fundamental rights of the person concerned are always thrown into the balance in order to make an informed decision. The process is documented so that the claims can later be used legally if necessary.


What to do if there is a suspicion that the accountant is misappropriating company funds? Detectives are gathering evidence.

An important feature of reputable detective agencies is that they answer their clients all questions they ask them in connection with data collection, data backup and disclosure as well as the investigation methods used. In this way, clients find out how the rights of the people involved - suspects, clients, third parties and detective agencies - are protected.

Data protection during detective work

Once the decision has been made and the investigation begins, detectives work neutrally in both directions. This means that they are looking for both incriminating and exculpatory evidence. This investigative technique is one of the reasons why detective agency evidence is admitted to court. The neutral investigative activity is extremely serious and professional and ultimately serves to establish the truth.
In order to meet the high standards, professionals from the industry work exclusively within the legally permissible framework. Private individuals and companies who want to find evidence on their own due to suspicion often exceed the legal limits due to ignorance of the applicable framework conditions. Even if they manage to find incriminating material, it is worthless in legal disputes. It is therefore generally advisable to work with professional private investigators right from the start.
The police are usually not the right contact person to intervene in the event of marital problems or internal company matters such as embezzlement, fraud on wages, undeclared work or betrayal of secrets. In the case of internal company problems in particular, those responsible must act quickly to avert greater financial damage or at least to limit it. At this point, reputable detective agencies who work according to law and order are in demand.

Conclusion: Expert detectives know and observe the GDPR and work transparently

The usual activities of a detective agency such as monitoring, determining and using permitted database queries can also be carried out when the new GDPR comes into force. Serious detective agencies generally work within the framework of the legal limits and have no difficulties with the implementation of the new regulation. The "black sheep" in the industry are now facing a problem.

If a detective agency undertakes to work according to this special standard soon after the adoption of DIN SPEC 33452, which can be seen, for example, at the Lentz Group® with a corresponding clear TÜV seal on the website, they follow even stricter regulations, regarding data protection + quality. It remains to be seen when the DIN standard will be adopted. In all likelihood, it should happen in 2018.

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Release: Lotte Müller
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