American P.I.

Jim Overton


When you’re looking for insight into privacy, the first place to start is with a profession that has been working around privacy issues since long before the internet even existed. Jim Overton is a private investigator with John Yaryan Investigations. He’s been working with the company since about 2008. He and John Yaryan are both retired police officers from Northern Nevada. For more information, call 348-5974.

How did you get involved with John Yaryan Investigations?

I’ve known him since we were rookie policemen. He was looking for someone who could manage this office for him that he could trust. I ran into him one day, and I was looking for something to do because I’m retired myself from the police department. We got started that way.

What kind of things do you do as a private detective?

We’ll do just about any type of investigations that are out there. Anytime anybody needs information, and there’s a legal reason to have it, or it’s for good purposes. We will consider taking a case unless it’s illegal purposes or something that could be used for not-good purposes.

Is it like on the TV shows? Are you following around people who suspect their spouses of cheating?

We do a lot of different types of searching. We do asset searches on people; when somebody is thinking about firing a civil suit on someone, before they spend a lot of time and money, we check to see if there are any assets they have that would be worthwhile before they get into litigation. We also do workman’s comp types of surveillances—if they suspect somebody that is doing some fraudulent claims for insurance purposes. Sometimes we’ll do investigations into that. We’ve done internal investigations for companies where they’ve had employee misconduct or other types of problems. We do accident reconstruction, just about any type of situation where somebody needs to find out what really happened. We can be there to find out that information for them.

What do you think about the whole privacy on the internet thing? You’re on Facebook. Do you have it blocked so only your friends can see your stuff?

I’ve narrowed it down a lot, and I’ve got to tell you, that was the result of investigations that I do now. We do background investigations. Sometimes it’s for somebody who’s getting involved in a relationship with somebody and wants to make sure they’re safe, and they’re not hooking up with a serial killer. Maybe it’s someone who has an extensive criminal history. We also do a lot of background checks for employment and things like that. What I can say is that if an employer is doing any type of backgrounds at all on people who are hiring, social networking is a good place to start. That gives them an idea of the kind of people they hang out with, the kind of person they are. It provides a wealth of information. Sometimes it’s not good information; sometimes it could be information that could misguide somebody. When I talk to young people, the first thing that I tell them is that “Anything you have on Facebook, or Myspace, or any of that, it should be appropriate for your grandma to read because your employers are going to be reading it, as well. They may determine whether you even get an interview based on what information is out there.”

And what about other types of privacy issues?

I think it gets back down to, what are you doing? If you’re just the average guy walking around doing the best that you can, and always doing what’s best, doing what’s right, chances are, you’re not too worried about looking behind you, or what people are thinking because you’re going to be reflected in a positive way. But if you’re concerned about the behavior that you’re doing, that can cause some grief for you. It can be pretty easy with today’s technology for people to determine where you are using GPS, or determine what you are talking about, if they have the right equipment.