Private investigators and security consultants get their fair share of calls from potential clients who are worried that they have been bugged. In my own personal experience well more than half of the calls we receive can be chalked up to a client with some emotional or mental challenges. About a quarter of the remaining clients come to the realization that they are probably just a bit paranoid, leaving the remaining few calls that are from clients who probably have a well-founded cause for concern.
Technical Surveillance Counter Measures, or TSCM, is a highly technical and continually evolving specialty. Most TSCM professionals spend tens of thousands of dollars on gear, if not well over $100,000, and another several thousand dollars on training each year in order to remain proficient and up to date in their field. Suffice it to say that the advent of internet marketing, online spy shops and the distribution of simple mass made electronic “bug sniffers” have made more than a few hundred amateur TSCM specialists out of thin air, too.
As a private investigator, I have always viewed my role when dealing with clients potentially needing a TSCM Inspection (bug sweep) as an intermediary and consultant. If a client needs a TSCM expert then he or she is also going to need additional help, i.e. identifying additional needs or contractors (like counter surveillance, background checks, due diligence research, locksmiths and alarm companies) as well.
Rather than going in with a couple of hundred dollars of “spy gadgets” bought from “Bug Sweepers R US” and eventually looking like a hack when my handheld black box with some nifty blinking lights and a really long antenna fails to find anything, I leave it to the experts. Making sure that the client gets the very best service that he or she can afford and assisting him or her with everything else that goes along with being important enough to have been bugged, I can cement a lasting client relationship which will net WAY more income in the long run than botching a job I am not properly trained or equipped to handle.
The warning signs below address those potential clients that may have cause to hire a TSCM specialist. By using common sense and these red flags, hopefully you will be better positioned to identify clients with a bona fide reason for concern and then to properly manage that client through his or her TSCM investigation.