If you find yourself in urgent need of private investigators, it will be difficult to find the right person or company for you. There are many service providers who look competent enough to do the job.
It will be easier to choose the right private investigator if you do your research.
1. Are you a licensed private investigator?
Many people don’t realize the many problems they could face if they hire an investigator who isn’t licensed. This means that a PI who is not licensed will not be allowed to testify for you in court. Even written reports by such investigators could cause more damage than good in your case. The investigator can be easily blocked as a credible witness, even if they have collected critical evidence. Remember that life is full of surprises so you might not believe that the matter will ever reach court. What if it happens? Do you really want to see your investment in an investigator go down the drain? Also, ensure that the investigator you hire is covered by adequate professional insurance. Some states require it in order to get a license. However, you should ask for proof of current insurance.
2. Is your investigator qualified and experienced to handle your assignment?
A license is not sufficient. There are many other factors that must be taken into consideration. It is important to consider the experience of the investigator handling your case. Your case depends on the investigator and not the company, no matter how many years they have been in business.
Always ask for the name of the private investigator licensed number and the number of the individual who will handle your case. You can verify this by visiting the state’s website. This is a common feature in almost every state. It will indicate when the license was obtained. A licensed person for at least four years indicates that they are serious about their profession. This is a sign that the agency you call is trying to hide something.
Ask questions about your investigator. It does not necessarily mean that someone with prior military or law enforcement experience is proficient in covert investigation. Ask your investigator how they learned to conduct surveillance and where their experience came from. An ideal investigator has worked for a national private investigation firm for many years. These companies are specialized in monitoring workers compensation/disability cases. Investigators were likely assigned surveillance cases five to six days per week. These investigators have invaluable experience and training that can be applied to any type of surveillance.
Ask your investigator if he is certified in writing reports and if he has ever been called to testify before a court about his findings. If he isn’t familiar with how to format reports or answer the questions, a good lawyer will often dissect a report. This can make investigators look incompetent. This testimony can make or break your case.
Ask if they have any additional training, such as a college education in a related field or previous jobs that are related to investigating. This could be a sign of their commitment to private investigation.
3. Do you understand billing?
Because the billing system may vary from investigator to investigator, clients might not be able to understand it. A retainer is something you should expect to be charged. Ask if the retainer must be renewed after the money has been spent. Also, ask if the person will continue working and invoice you for the final amount once the work is completed. You should know whether the fee is door-to-door or for actual case time. Ask about their mileage charges. It is vital to find out where your investigator is located. This can add hundreds of dollars to your case. These charges can differ from investigator to investigator so be sure to clarify.
Talk about any additional fees associated with your case. Set-up fees are a fee that companies may charge to help you with your case. While some companies charge fees for report writing and any video that may be requested, others do not charge this additional cost.
The hourly rate does not indicate how experienced or skilled an investigator or his company. It’s not a measure of overhead or profit the individual is looking to make from your case.
You can save yourself from confusion later by asking questions and taking the time to read the fine print regarding billing.
4. Do your contracts have to be written?
A detailed written contract can help clarify many future misunderstandings and misconceptions. Be sure to clearly state all charges. You should not expect to get a guarantee of the results that you want. The investigator is paid for his expertise and time. Nobody can guarantee the results. If you are not given a written contract, do not sign it. If there are any issues, both you and your investigator will be protected. If you are not satisfied with the information, you can ask for clarification.
5. Are they involved in professional associations within their field of expertise?
Being active in a professional association or organization in your field sends a strong message about your commitment to upholding and improving industry standards. This test will tell you quickly how professional the PI that you are looking to hire.
6. Do they put you under pressure or want you to make informed decisions?
There are many investigators and agencies that insist that you sign a contract immediately. If you wait, their price could go up. It is possible to be told that the price may go up if you make it a “rush case”. Most investigators will tell you that it is best to make informed decisions. If you have an urgent case, they will not charge extra. Don’t let investigators try to take your business away by telling you lies or making up stories.
Private investigators are able to solve many of the problems that we face every day. You can find a great investigator by checking the license and asking questions about their work experience.