Tips for hiring a P.I.
The following are some sound tips to assist you in evaluating which private investigator you should hire. Please understand that this is a simple list of some general information that may assist you in selecting a private investigator. This list is not a comprehensive one and there are many factors not shown here that you should consider. Further, this list is NOT considered to be legal advice.
Make sure they have a license!
The vast majority of states and provinces require that anyone engaging the practice of investigations for profit be licensed.
Licensing requirements vary greatly from one place to another. A Private investigator or private detective should be able to produce a copy of such a license immediately for you. Some are issued by the state or province while other are issued by a city or municipality. The license will state which governing body issued it and it should be verifiable with that government. That government agency will also be able to show you what is required to get a license.
It is also important to understand that merely “being licensed” does not mean that an agency is competent in any specific area of investigation. You should always ask for additional credentials and proof of expertise that you can understand.
Please be sure that you understand who and what you are dealing with and what they are going to give you, before you hire anyone working in this sector.
Note: there are many companies offering services on the internet which do not qualify as “investigators” when they really should. These companies are completely unregulated and what they give you is whatever they want. Most of these companies are called “information brokers” who have access to various databases of public records, like telephone numbers, address directories, voters registration filings, etc. These companies frequently offer “background checks” or “locate anyone” services that are nothing more than database searches of old public records. That may be enough to get you what you need, but if you need to be sure that the information is accurate, contact a licensed private investigator.
Do you need to meet with the P.I.?
No, not unless you want to. Much of what we do can be done quickly and with a minimal amount of inconvenience and the formality of a meeting is usually not necessary.
Always get a contract.
Like any other service, you should get a contract that indicates what you are hiring the P.I. for and what you will get in return. If they cannot or will not present you with a contract, move on to the next one.
Some private investigators have little or no investigative background. There are those who have retired from a law enforcement or military career and decide that being a “private investigator” would be action packed and exciting. They enroll in some Private Detective school and after two months, they become a P.I.
Does that mean that they are qualified to investigate your case properly?
Not necessarily! It is important that you know the qualifications and experience of the investigator that will be working on your case. In our opinion, the more experienced the investigator, the greater the likelihood that your desired results will be achieved. You don’t want a 19 year old with a video camera conducting surveillance for you. It is also our opinion that you need someone who does this type of surveillance regularly. They do not need to be former FBI agents, secret service or ninjas. They should be experienced surveillance experts.
Licensed and Bonded.
In the U.S., being bonded is almost always a requirement to get a PI license. If you see a PI advertising that they are “bonded” that does not mean that they are a better investigator or that they offer you some special protection or status. It simply means that a bond has been issued payable to the state that licenses them to be used if that agency violates the law during the course of there work. Do not be impressed with this.
Professional Association Membership.
Be aware that there are many “professional associations” that a private investigator can join. Some are excellent and do a great deal to ensure that their members are qualified, experienced and truly professionals. Others are advertising consortiums or simply a directory that anyone with $ 100.00 can join. If an investigator claims to be a member of such an association, check out the association before you are too impressed. We list a few of the good ones on our home page.
Are they insured?
Keep in mind that the private investigator who you hire is working for you, as your agent. If he or she is working on your case and they damage someone’s property, get in a car accident, presents false information, etc., they should have ample insurance to cover any loses that arise. If they don’t, you, the one who hired them, are exposed.
It is just good common sense to check for insurance coverage before you hire a PI. It should be no problem for a reputable investigator to present a certificate of insurance coverage for you to review and verify.
You get what you pay for.
Nothing further needed.