Most people never expect to need the services of a private investigator, but the truth of the matter is one never knows when that need will arise. Let’s look at a few tips you can use when hiring a private investigator. These tips will also come in handy if you’re looking to start an investigation business of your own.
Be sure he or she is licensed
In most jurisdictions, private investigators are required to be licensed. Always ask to see proof of the license before you hire anyone. The licensing requirement is for the protection of the consumer, so that no one can wake up one morning and decide to become a private investigator without the proper training. You don’t want to hire a Sherlock Holmes wannabe. You’ll want to be sure you are hiring someone who knows what he is doing.
Be sure he or she is bonded and insured
Private investigation agencies will vary in their requirements for insurance, but it’s never a good idea to hire one who does not require its agents to be insured. This insurance will protect you in the case anything goes wrong during the investigation, such as professional negligence, errors or omissions, property damage, etc. Insurance will protect you from being sued and the agency from being held liable.
Are they experienced in your area of need?
Not all private investigators have the same areas of focus. Some specialize in certain types of cases whereas others may have a more general focus. Arrange to have a consultation with the agency before you hire them to ensure you are on the same page.
Be sure you are clear on payment arrangements ahead of time
Always ensure you clearly understand how much the investigator’s services are going to cost and how you will be expected to pay. Although there is always the possibility that certain unexpected costs may crop up, a good agency will be able to give you a rough estimate as to what your case will cost. For example, if you are hiring them to do a background check on someone, they should have a general idea of what that will cost versus what you might pay if you were hiring them to investigate your spouse on suspicion of cheating.
Once you get an idea of the amount you will be charged, have a conversation about how the billing works. Will you be charged on a fixed hour rate? Progressive payments? A lump sum? Based on results? Knowing their required payment schedule up front will help you to determine whether they are the right agency for you or not.
Know their methods
Does the agency employ high-tech surveillance methods? Are they more old school in their techniques? Neither is necessarily better, it just depends on your sensibilities and the particulars of your case. Ask about their methods as well as their success rate in cases similar to yours using those methods.
Hiring a private investigator is about finding one who is a good fit for your particular needs. What that means to you will vary from what it means to someone else, and a lot of it will be based on your gut feeling about the particular agency, However, having this list of things to keep in mind when you interview an agency is a good idea because it helps you focus on important considerations.