A Mother Investigates Your Privacy

, , , , | Related | April 12, 2019

(I have just obtained a private investigator’s license in the state that I have just moved to shortly after earning a master’s degree in criminal justice. My first “official” case is a pro bono job to help a long time friend of my husband — and new friend of mine — locate his baby brother, who was given up for adoption as an infant in the early 1960s. I am talking to my mom on the phone one day, telling her what I am doing. Please note that I have previously worked in skip trace for a debt collection company and in sales, so people tend to be VERY comfortable with me when they talk to me on the phone — I am a very good talker.)

Me: “Mom, the case to find [Friend]’s brother is going well; everyone that I have contacted has had information that is getting me closer to finding [Friend]’s brother.”

Mom: “Will you stop harassing people?! You know that it is illegal to call someone unless you are a law enforcement official.”

Me: “Why is it illegal to simply call someone? In [State] it is only illegal if the person tells you to stop calling them in writing. I have always identified myself when I call people regarding this case, including offering my license number.”

Mom: “But it’s harassment!”

Me: “One phone call is harassment? If they tell me to stop calling them, I will. However, I have managed to befriend everyone who I have called and they all are very willing to help me.”

Mom: “But if you called me looking for information about someone I knew, I would call the police right away!”

(It is now painfully obvious that my mom is totally ignorant of what constitutes harassment in the United States.)

Me: “And the police would tell you to go pound sand! It is perfectly legal to call any stranger in the United States and ask them anything — within reason — that you want. You just have to stop calling them if they ask you to. So far, no one on this case has asked me to stop calling them. I even have one person that I have contacted who now calls me with information!”

Mom: “But I get nervous when strangers call me!”

Me: “That’s you, and it’s not representative of the laws that I must follow as a licensed private investigator in [State]. I am doing everything in this case to the letter of the law. I even carry $1,000,000 in professional liability insurance if I make a mistake!”

Mom: “But you just can’t cold-call strangers! The police are going to arrest you and charge you with harassment for trying to find [Friend]’s brother!”

(She started getting really irrational, so I gave up trying to reason with her after that.)

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