Your Private Investigator Must Be Licensed
First, make sure that the private investigator (P.I.) you hire has a valid investigations license. Most states require private investigators to be licensed. You should ask to see a copy of the license.
Information Brokers Versus Private Investigators
There are companies online that offer investigative services, when in reality they are just information brokers. These brokers have access to public records, address directories and telephone numbers, etc. Many of these companies offer to perform background checks. Most of these background checks are database searches of archived public records. While this may be all you are looking to find, if you want to ensure the information is correct, you need to contact a licensed private investigator.
Get a Contract
Request a contract. You need to get a contract stating exactly what you are hiring your P.I. to do. If the P.I. refuses to or cannot offer you a contract, continue your search.
Make sure that the private investigator that you hire is insured. Because the P.I. is working for you, if property is damaged due to his/her actions, you could be liable. For this reason, ask to see a private investigator’s certificate of insurance coverage and verify insurance information before you hire him/her. In addition, the amount of professional indemnity insurance coverage a private investigator has must be enough to cover any problem that may arise.
Look for private investigators who are former law enforcement agents and hold a P.I. license and have plenty of professional indemnity insurance coverage. Their earlier professions in law enforcement have given them the skills and knowledge necessary to perform surveillance and get you the information you need.
Make Sure Your Case is Not Outsourced
Ask whether your case will be handled in-house or outsourced. This is a very important question because some investigative firms are actually just a facilitator. These types of firms send your case to one of their nearby investigators, who may not have the knowledge and skills necessary to obtain the information you need. Not only that, this investigator is unknown to you. You cannot verify that he/she is licensed and has insurance. Your confidential information is being given to someone else.
Ask for a Quote
Fees will vary depending on the specifics of a case. Many private investigators will ask for a retainer (particular amount of money paid upfront).
If the private investigator you are considering has a website, check it out. One of the best ways to find a reputable private investigator is to look at client testimonials.
Visit the state licensing board to make sure there are no complaints placed against the private investigator you want to hire.
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