You might not think so, but there are many different situations that could arise where you or your business would need the services of a private investigator. Maybe you suspect your spouse of cheating, or you’re worried your son or daughter could be involved in something dangerous. Maybe you’re adopted and looking for your biological family. Maybe you’re questioning the integrity of someone at your company, or you want to get inside information about a competitor. People make the decision to hire investigators for a lot of reasons, but it almost always involves a serious investment. The most important thing is making sure you find the right investigator for your needs, who is both licensed and qualified. Private investigators typically make thousands of dollars per case – some up to USD $250 per hour – so you want to be sure that they will earn it. Here are the first things you look for.
1. License and Insurance
There are only four states – Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, and Wyoming – where private investigators don’t need a license to practice. If you don’t live in those four states, you should always ask to see an investigator’s license and they should always be able to produce one. Different states have different licensing requirements, but usually there is a background check and an examination involved. And along with a license, an investigator should have a good insurance policy. They could be putting themselves at risk while they work for you, and when you formalize your contract, you should make sure that the cost of property damage, injuries, and other incidents will be covered.
A license to be a private investigator is no guarantee of experience, and you will want to review your investigator’s qualifications and background. Most private investigators have a criminal justice or law enforcement background, but some have a more business-oriented expertise and some were even trained in the military. Whatever their prior employment, they should be experts at both research and surveillance. And it helps to find an investigator who has experience in your particular kind of case, too. Many investigators will tell you what they normally specialize, be it cheating spouses or business fraud. If you’re going to pay their fees, you probably want to find the person with the most relevant experience possible.
3. Sign a Thorough Contract
Private investigators should be upfront with what they will be doing and how, and much of this information should be outlined in the contract you sign with them. You should insist that they obtain all information legally, and that they present you with documentation for all expenses you will be required to pay. Some investigators work primarily through the phone and internet research, but many are out in the field, gathering surveillance and conducting interviews. A contract provides you the means to place limits on what you’re willing to pay for and also outline what you are not libel for, especially if your investigator carries a firearm. A clear, legally binding agreement is the best way to keep you or your business safe.
Whether or not you choose to commit the time and money necessary to find a good private investigator can be an important decision. For many people, it can be worth it, especially if you end up uncovering serious misconduct at your business or information that can protect your family. If you’re considering an investigator, you’re probably in the middle of a serious situation, and you need to take the time to find exactly the right professional to help.
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