Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator or Starting an Investigation Business

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.

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About Dequiana Jackson

Dequiana Jackson, CEO of Inspired Marketing, Inc., is a small business marketing coach who teaches women entrepreneurs how to monetize their message so they can make more money from their expertise. Dequiana is the author of Know Your Business: How to Attract Ideal Clients & Sell More and runs the award-winning blog,

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  1. I didn’t know that private investigators needed to be bonded and insured, so that information is really helped. It’s also a great tip to make sure a PI has experience in your particular area of need. It seems like researching and talking to a few different investigators would also be a smart idea.

  2. Hey Dequiana,

    Thanks for sharing useful points that will help while hiring a private investigator, actually my brother is interested in an investigation business and he wanted to start on your own. Your post is really helpful; now I know what things we need to keep in mind while starting an investigation business.I have never give much preference to insurance, but after reading your post I realized that insurance is very important in Private investigation industry.

    Thanks again!!

    Best Regards
    Philip G Mason´s last blog post ..Diligence International knows Latin America

  3. It very depends. but the sole folks I ever find or for insurance related functions. There are many folks within the business that i’m certain can assist you if you wish it.

  4. A big reason BI is gaining so much ground is its ability to provide actionable intelligence.

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for sharing these useful tips on hiring investigators.

    I am looking for a well- experienced infidelity investigator who can keep an eye on my husband. I really suspect that my husband may be cheating me. He comes late from office with a bad mood, had a lock on his phone and seemed to lack interest.

    I am sure these tips is going to help me in finding the best detective.

    Keep up the great work.

    Alexander Banks

  6. I’ve been toying with idea of hiring a private investigator for something, but I don’t know what to look for in an investigator. Making sure they have experience in fulfilling needs like mine isn’t something that I even thought about, but should. Having someone who could be on the same page as I am, and who is familiar with cases like mine would make me feel a lot more comfortable.

  7. Dequiana, I really like your tip about arranging some type of consultation with the agency to make sure they can help you. Making sure you’re both on the same page with what you’re hoping to accomplish seems like a huge benefit when hiring a detective agency. I would imagine that getting reliable information could be a huge relief or help in things like child custody or workers compensation cases.

  8. I am looking into getting a personal detective. It is kind of my last option. I am so grateful for this article talking about essentials so I can feel more calm about this decision. I appreciate knowing that I can check if the detective is licensed. I had no idea that detectives could be bonded as well, that is pretty amazing. Thank you so much for this article that gives me the insights I need to know when I am looking for a trusted detective.

  9. This is really a well descriptive and informative article. It helps the people who want to hire a private investigator or detective. Many people come and asked me what they need to do when hiring a PI. Now I will send this link to them for better understanding. Good work, Keep it up.

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