Source: smithinvestigationagency.com

5 Things To Look For When Hiring A Private Investigator

There could be many reasons why you’d need to hire a private investigator. Some of you might need to track down a person from your past, some of you might need surveillance on a cheating spouse, and some of you might have a totally different reason for it.

But the general consensus is that you don’t hire the first person that you see on Facebook. There are rules as to how it’s done and you don’t want to be making a mistake of spending your money needlessly on a private investigator that doesn’t know how to do their job.

Because of that, we are here to make the hiring decision that much easier by giving you the 5 things to look for when hiring a private investigator.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

1. Verify That They Are Licensed Professional

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Many of you don’t know this but a private investigator without a license isn’t the person you should be hiring. It’s even considered by state law that this individual must have a license to practice their trade.

So whenever you find a person that interests you and you are thinking about hiring them, always ask to see their license. You can even check with your state’s licensing agency to verify if this professional is licensed to practice their trade.

But there is more to it than simply look at a piece of paper and saying “yes”. Each of these licenses has an expiration date, so you should always check for that as well.

Each state also has its own Association for private investigators. It might also work in your favor to check in with the Association and verify that the person you’re thinking of hiring is a member or if they’re a licensed practitioner.

2. Check For Insurance

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While it’s rarely the case that the private investigator can get somehow injured during the investigation, it is still something that you want to ask before making the hiring decision.

There are many reasons why a private investigator would need insurance. Most of them have to do with their own safety, while others are directly related to someone else’s safety or someone else’s property.

If either of these three things happens while the person is on the case, then it might backfire on you and you could be directly liable for damages.

That’s why it’s always advised that you ask the investigator for proof that he has liability insurance, is bonded, and has any other types of insurance.

3. Check For References

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Checking for references will only tell you whether or not past customers have been satisfied with the particular person. This should be something you do whenever hiring any type of person for any type of job, but it is especially important in this line of business.

Since you cannot be completely sure about how good this person is at their job, a good way to find that out is by asking for references that vouch for their reputation and detective performance.

Some private investigators, like RCI-Process, offer a huge range of services that stand beyond the simple detective work. The more experience a PI has, then the better they’ll be at their job.

4. Ask For A Resume Of Their Work History

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If you’re still unsure about whether or not to hire a particular investigator, then a good way to fully cement your thoughts is to ask for a resume of their complete work history. PI’s tend to keep their work history available for other potential clients to see as references.

This means that you will know the outcome of every case since you’ll be reading client reports, success stories, or newspaper articles. In addition to that, you should invest a great deal of effort into finding a person’s applicable experience for your personal situation.

Depending on the reasons why you’ll need a PI, you should uncover whether the person has any military, law enforcement, or crime scene experience.

It is completely normal for a person not to have any experience of this type, and these PI’s generally deal in fields such as insurance investigations, electronic investigations, skip tracing, corporative investigation, or court process servings.

The field of PI is very large and very diverse. A PI doesn’t necessarily have to be a person that can find a missing person for you. Sometimes, these people focus on uncovering insurance fraud and even domestic violence.

5. Discuss The Pricing And Fees

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If you think that hiring a PI will cost you nothing, then you are greatly mistaken. A private investigator will cost you money, and that a lot of it. The amount depends on the particular investigator and the type of investigation needed.

Some will charge more whilst others will charge less, but the bottom line is that you always discuss the pricing and fees prior to hiring. If you’re satisfied with this particular person’s work history, experience, and professionalism, then the first thing you will agree upon is the type of pricing.

This can be an hourly rate or a flat fee. You could agree upon a retainer and you will probably agree on additional fees that might occur throughout the investigation.

Since every investigator is different from the rest, determining how much it will cost you is easier said than done. This is why it is advisable that you ask around and see what other people or friends have paid in the past.

This will give you a general idea as to what you should prepare financially. It also gives you some space to do some bargaining with him.

When discussing the pricing and fees, you should define your goals. You should define the services you wish to perform from the private investigator. It is absolutely important for both of you to be on the same page and completely understand each other before they start the investigative process.

Be prepared for a thing called a “no-hit fee”, which means that you still pay the PI when conducting a search even if they don’t find any results or don’t find the person you are looking for.


Peter is a freelance writer with more than eight years of experience covering topics in politics. He was one of the guys that were here when the foreignpolicyi.org started.

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