So you think you need to hire a PI? Now what?

When someone mentions “Private Investigator”, all sorts of things come to mind. Mostly thoughts about some dark, dingy office hidden away in some back alley. Trench coats, booze in the desk drawer and unpaid bar tabs down the street at the local pub. Let’s face it – this is a romantic exciting lifestyle – at least it is if you watch TV!

But in real life, most people know nothing about what a PI is really all about. Hiring one is not something that you do everyday. How do you find one? Will I get ripped off? Is it expensive? These are some of the questions that you will have as you look through the phone book over the countless ads that you will find.

Here are some good basic tips that will help you out.

First of all, take a moment to visit your States Government web site and find out what the licensing requirements are for your state. By doing so you will have a better idea of what the requirements are for investigative agencies. For example, if Florida, you must hire the “agency” and not the individual “investigator”. Therefore, all licensed investigators must work for an agency. Even if it’s a one man operation – there must be an agency license and and individual investigator license.

Once you know the state requirements you should contact them and ask to verify that the license is valid. You can also inquire into whether there have been any complaints or charges filed against them.

The next thing you want to know about is insurance. Some states may not require an agency to carry insurance. You would want to hire one that has coverage so you should ask to see proof of insurance such as a certificate of insurance.

Another way to look for a good agency is to check with a State organization for investigators. If there is an active organization in your state, most top notch investigators will belong to it. You can contact them and look through their directory listing and more than likely find several agencies in your area.

Look at their website. Find out what areas they specialize in, and make sure they are able to handle your type of case. For example, Are You Cheating, is a company that can help you handle suspected infidelity.

You can ask for references, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get any. Most people who hire an investigator don’t want to talk about with others. You may get references from law firms and other professional businesses, but not from individuals.

It is not uncommon for investigators to work out of their homes. So you should not hold this against someone just because they don’t have a big flashy office with lots of overhead. Today, with computers playing such an important part of the investigators tool bag, it’s easy to work from a home office. This actually makes it easier for some investigators who work a lot of strange hours such as required for domestic cases and insurance fraud work. 

Ask a lot of questions. Go for an interview. You need to feel confident and comfortable that they know and understand what you are looking for. Every good investigator will “listen” to you and be able to offer you some ideas, suggestions and advice to help you with your needs.

Hiring an investigator doesn’t have to be a hard thing to do. Do some research and try and find someone that you feel good about. Then let them do what they are trained to do. Give them the time they need to properly do their job. Most investigations don’t happen overnight, so relax, let them do their job. You can always get status reports on the progress as they are moving along.

Good luck!

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