There are a lot of things to consider when looking for a private investigator. It can be overwhelming to simply flip through the yellow pages or go looking online. How do you know who is good and who is not? How do you sift through all of the potential candidates hoping to find someone you can trust? How do you pick the right person for the job?
Getting a referral from someone you know and trust is a good start. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if the private investigator has an Accredited Business or at least see if they have a record of unresolved complaints. Regardless, there are several other things you should do.
For starters, it is always a good idea to know a private investigator’s background. Be sure to look for someone who is well educated, has solid credentials, and a lot of hands-on experience. They should have the necessary tools and equipment to ensure effectiveness and accuracy in their work. Also, it is very important that they have insurance: liability, errors and omissions - plus commercial vehicle. Ask them for proof of insurance.
It is also important if possible to choose a licensed private investigator. While some states, like Idaho, do not have licensing, a neighboring state likely does and you should consider a local private investigator with such a license. Licensed private investigators have more resources at their disposal and therefore can be more effective. Licensing in most cases means that the person has met certain standards. One of the more important standards is, they have no criminal record. If you hire an unlicensed private investigator, and a license is required in that state, any evidence they obtain may not be admissible in court. You want someone who understands the relevant laws and uses only legal and ethical methods. You wouldn’t want to spend your hard earned money only to find out that the information obtained could not be used, it damaged your case and you are being sued along with the private investigator. You want someone who is professional and committed to integrity and ethical business practices.
After researching candidates and getting an idea of who you might like to hire, ask to meet with them to discuss the details of your situation and what you hope to achieve. Pay particular attention to your first impression. Do they seem genuinely interested in your case? Keep in mind that you are intrusting this person with sensitive personal or business information. Because of this, it is extremely important that you feel comfortable with them and trust that they are going to meet or exceed your expectations.Be wary of someone who guarantee’s specific results.
Make note of how well they communicate. Do they come across as honest and straightforward? Do they present themselves in a professional manner? These things are especially important if you are going to need them to testify. They need to be able to come across as professional, articulate and credible.
Once you have explained your situation, a good private investigator can usually suggest different options for how your objectives can be reached. However, from there they should work with you in narrowing it down to the course of action which is the most cost effective and has the highest probability for success.
Ask who would be doing the actual work. It is not uncommon for the work, all or in part, to be farmed out to an independent contractor. It serves little purpose to know all about a private investigator’s background and what insurance they have only to have them give it to someone you no nothing about, including if they are insured.
Make sure you have a clear understanding about who is actually going to do the work and the cost. Don’t be surprised if a retainer is required. Investigator’s fees vary, depending upon what you want done and their experience. Just remember that in most cases, you get what you pay for.
Once you have done your research, met with them and considered all of the facts, there is really only one thing left to do; go with the private investigator you think you can trust the most.