By general definition, an informant is an individual who gives privileged or highly valuable informations regarding a certain person, organization, or group to a certain agency (usually the law enforcement agencies such as the police or the military), without the knowledge of that person, organization, or group that disclosed the information. Based on the definition alone, I think that one of the most common stereotypes that I can hold regarding informants is that they are untrustworthy.
Other terms or stereotypes used for informants are rats, snitches, or whistleblowers, which indicate that they will always divulge any valuable piece of information they obtain to the person or organization they are working for. While it is true that informants are very useful in the investigations of police and military operations, there are also times when they prove to be highly dangerous and threatening to a person’s life.
For example, a person posing as an investigator but is actually an informant may casually ask questions about someone close to me. Little do I know, the informant is working for a criminal organization who is after one of my friends or one of the people I know. Basically, these views towards informants would compel me to be more cautious when dealing with people likes these especially if I notice that they are asking too much information that is seemingly out of place.
However, if the informant claims that he or she is assisting a pending police investigation, then I would first verify the authenticity of his or her position before I would disclose any information to him or her. In other words, when dealing with people, especially those whom I have recently met, I would be very careful whom I trust.