Tips For Hiring a Private Investigator
Hire a Licensed Private Investigator -
Most states require that any person providing investigative services be licensed. You can confirm a private investigator is properly licensed by contacting the licensing authority for your state. Just contact the appropriate PI Licensing Authority and provide them with the investigator’s full name and agency name. You can ask the PI to show you their state issued ID card and provides you with their license number and expiration date. It’s important to understand that even if a PI is licensed, there is no guarantee that the investigator has the necessary experience to handle your case. In the event your state doesn’t require a license, make sure the investigator has the necessary experience to handle your case and ask for references.
Make Sure the PI is Bonded and Insured -
While most states require that a PI be licensed, many do not be bonded or have liability insurance. It’s important that at the very least they have general liability insurance. Remember, the investigator is working on your behalf and if they cause any injury or cause any civil action you need to know they are covered.
What experience does the PI have for your requested service?
Having a PI doesn’t necessarily mean that the investigator has the applicable experience to properly perform the requested service you need performed. There are more than 50 investigative specialties and you need to make sure the investigator you hire has the verifiable experience to take your case. Be sure to ask and don’t hesitate to verify the investigator’s claims.
Does the PI Belong to Any Professional Associations?
Private investigators that belong to professional PI Associations, such as their state PI association, are more likely to be aware of the latest laws and issues regulating private investigations. Members are also more likely to act in a professional manner as they are constantly networking with peers and a bad reputation can end a career very quickly.
Make Sure You Have a Signed Retainer Agreement
It’s common for private investigators to have clients sign a PI Retainer Agreement before commencing any investigation. A Retainer Agreement protects both the client and the investigator. It should clearly state what services the investigator is being hired to perform, at what rate, and detail all the terms and conditions pertaining to the investigation. In fact, many states require that the PI have a signed Retainer Agreement as a condition of their license.
Request a Written Report
You should always request a written report detailing all of the investigator’s findings and a detailed invoice accounting for all hours and expenses incurred during the investigation. You can expect to be charged a set hourly rate along with expenses directly associated with the investigation. All of these charges and expensed should be included in the Retainer Agreement.
Do I have to Pay a Retainer Fee Up Front?
Yes, the Retainer Fee represents the budget you have allocated for the investigation and investigators will usually never commence work without a retainer. The main product/service investigators provide is information. As such, the retainer allows for the investigator to provide the client with the information developed without fear of not getting paid.
How Much Should I Expect To Pay For an Investigation?
No two cases are alike. Therefore, there is no ‘average’ cost for an investigation. The hourly rate charged by a PI can vary from as low as $50 to as much as $350+ per hour. Rates can vary by location, specific investigative specialty, and the investigator’s expertise. NEVER, hire a PI based on hourly rate. You must select an investigator based on which one can best help you acquire evidence or information you are seeking.
Do PI’s Guarantee Results?
While you would expect guaranteed results, there is no way that any professional investigator can guarantee the results you seek. There are many reasons for this. For instance, you suspect that your spouse is cheating, but after several weeks of surveillance the investigators never any signs of infidelity. Is it the investigator’s fault if the spouse never cheated? Obviously not! Remember, when you hire a PI you are paying for the amount of time they are working for you, not guaranteed results.