Are you suspecting your spouse might be unfaithful?
Has someone you love gone missing?
Recently been awarded a high-profile job and fear for the safety of your loved ones?
Regardless of your current situation, hiring a private investigator could very well be the solution to your problems. Now, hiring professionals to investigate on your behalf or for protection is not exactly common or something that we may ever think we ever need. Unless you’re an insurance agent or an attorney, the odds are, you don’t know any PI or investigative agencies. As a result, knowing what to look for can prove challenging and even daunting.
However, no need to panic as we’re here to help!
To help you avoid costly mistakes and take some of the stress out of the situation, we’ve listed below the five key things you should consider when hiring a private investigator.
Request Proof of License and Insurance
While each state has different rules and regulations regarding licensing private investigators, in Alabama, it’s illegal to carry out private investigators’ duties without one. They should also have general liability insurance coverage, be bonded and should be able to provide you with proof they subscribed to one.
Therefore, if you find a private investigator you’d like to hire, make sure to ask for their license and bond information first and check what other legal documents the State’s governing authority requires them to hold.
If they’re hesitant to provide you with these documents, we’d recommend that you be cautious!
After all, you’re probably already in a stressful situation and certainly don’t need to put any more problems on your plate.
Ask for Work Experience and References
Hiring a private investigator without checking how long they’ve been in the business, what kind of investigations they’ve worked on previously, and whether they can provide references is a common mistake first-time clients often make.
If your PI has been in the field for years, it means they’re probably highly skilled at their job. Indeed, incompetent PIs tend not to last very long in this business as it’s heavily reliant on referrals.
To ensure you’re hiring the right PI for you, ask them for previous examples of their investigations and references. They may not provide you with details and names due to client confidentiality. But based on the reports and references they give you, you’ll be able to assess the outcome consistency and the quality of their work.
Check the Range of Services Provided
If you’re approaching a big investigative agency, they’ll probably provide a wealth of services from asset searches and insurance fraud to missing persons or background checks.
Now, the same way you want to ensure they have years of experience as a private investigator, if you require a specific service, make sure they have relevant background and expertise in that particular field and can indeed handle your case.
Discuss Billing Specifics
Talking about money is never easy and can sometimes feel awkward. Yet, it’s a very important subject to raise!
As a result, set a budget and discuss the nitty-gritty of the contract to make sure you’re aware of what the job entails, what you’re paying for and what’s not included.
For instance, some PIs charge for mileage and stand-by time, and some don’t. Every private investigator will charge their time differently, so everything needs to be clearly outlined. Also, some jobs may take longer to complete than what was previously agreed on, which could incur additional charges.
Therefore, it’s critical that you read the contract carefully and be clear on the fine print.
Enquire about the Methods Employed by the Investigator
Don’t be afraid to ask your private investigator what methods they will be using and what process they’ll be following. An experienced private investigator should be able to outline a strategic plan of action based on your individual case. They might not be completely open about their process, but make sure to discuss any gray areas in their methodology.
Just like any other profession, there are certain guidelines and ethical boundaries that have to be followed. Illegally procured information may not hold up in court as evidence, and shady practices might get you into trouble too!
So, speak to the private investigator and be clear about the laws in the operating state.
And because we genuinely want you to make the right decision when hiring your investigator, here are a few bonus tips:
– Make sure they can easily be reached on the phone.
– Meet them in person before hiring them.
– Check if they’re part of the Better Business Bureau.
Also, when talking to them during the first consultation, try to be specific and provide them with as many details as possible to help them get the best outcome possible for you. Besides, as Sherlock Holmes would say, ‘’you should twist theories to fit facts and not twist facts to fit theories.‘’
As a last word of advice, keep an open mind when approaching an investigative agency. Indeed, the nature of an investigation is to uncover the truth, meaning it won’t necessarily produce the outcome you were hoping for.