- Get a referral. It is likely that you will be sharing personal information with this person and so it important to find someone reliable. Do as much research on the investigator as possible. Ask trusted friends for recommendations and Contract the Better Business Bu. Locate and search for any local consumer reviews on private investigators.
- Check their license. The only states that don’t require licensing for private detectives are Idaho, Mississippi, Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming. A professional private detective will be able to give you their license number immediately and you can check it with your local state to make sure it’s valid. Some states, such as Hawaii require private investigations agencies to be approved through a Public Safety Board.
- Make sure they have an office. If your private detective only works out of restaurants and over the phone, that is a sign you should get out now. You need to know where to find this person if they don’t follow through on their obligations. Some will put up a good addresses, but have NO office.
- Ask about their experience and education. To make sure your job gets done right, find a detective who specializes in the task you need. Ask about how much work they have done similar to what you want in the past and how those jobs worked out. Watch out for the LARGE nationwide firms. These firms hire their staff with little to no experience in the field. Check and see if the agency is ran with ownership with prior law enforcement and military intelligence.
- Consider whether they have insurance. Most serious private investigators are insured up to a few million dollars. While it’s not necessary for all jobs, if something were to happen during the course of the work, you would be held liable if there was no insurance coverage.
- Talk about confidentiality. You are very likely dealing with sensitive information when you are working with a private investigator and you need to be sure your PI will be discreet and respectful of information shared between the two of you.
- Get a contract. Your initial consultation with a private detective should be free and from there, they should be able to outline anticipated cost. If you choose to follow through with the work, make sure all fees and expectations are clearly outlined in a contract.
- Be sure you are prepared for what a private investigator may uncover. You are hiring a private investigator to uncover something for you and especially when it involves people close to you, be sure you are ready to for whatever the PI may find. You may hope the private investigator will prove your fears wrong, but be sure you can handle what they may turn up to prove your fears right before you hire their services.
- Cheaper is not always better. We all have heard the saying, “you get what you pay for”. This is true also in the private investigation field. Make sure you talk with your investigator about their costs up front, and in their contract. If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is!
Check out our blog post on The Cost For a Private Investigator