Hiring a Private Investigator: FAQs
Posted by Pamela S. on Thursday, September 6th, 2012
If you have never hired a private investigator, and feel the need to do so now, you probably have a myriad of questions. Most individuals and many companies have never met a private investigator. If you have run out of options and are considering cialis low pricetitle=”Sheer Investigations: Top Ten Tips For Hiring a Private Investigator” href=”http://sheerinvestigations.com/top-ten-tips-for-hiring-a-private-investigator/”>hiring a private investigator, we can help prepare you for the process by answering some frequently asked questions.
Are private investigation agencies and private investigators licenced and regulated?
In the United States, the private investigation industry is licenced and regulated by individual states. Most states, except Alabama and Alaska have licencing requirements. Pursuit Magazine has a list of state requirements. A private investigation agency must obtain a licence, have insurance, and must have experienced investigators involved in the day to day management of the business.
Are there educational requirements to become an investigator and what kind of training do they have?
States that require licences usually require some form of mandated training and a test to obtain a private investigator licence. In Florida there is a minimum of 40 hours of professional training required through a state university, school or community college. Most states have similar regulations.
Do private investigators have a “Code of Ethics”?
Yes, we are not the rogues that are portrayed in the media. You have to be able to trust us. We are not going to start hacking into the smart phones of celebrities. We are also not the police, although many former law enforcement personnel are owners of private investigation agencies. We have to obey the law and follow rules and regulations. That can be a problem for some clients, who seem to think we can obtain certain information that is illegal to access.
What kind of issues can I bring to a private investigator?
The services vary. A large full service private investigation agency investigates insurance fraud, corporate fraud, theft, and works for companies involved in labor disputes. Many private investigation companies also provide security consulting. Some agencies specialize in domestic investigations, to find out if your spouse is cheating. Many agencies conduct locates and asset searches. Check the services page of Sheer Investigations to see the range of services offered.
How much do private investigators charge?
A reputable agency will outline the costs. The hourly fee can start at $50 and up. Most agencies charge an hourly fee for surveillance or other investigations. There are usually added costs, such as disbursements and mileage. There may also be administrative charges for report preparation. You should sign a contract outlining the details of your agreement and you will usually be asked for a retainer if you are not a regular client.
If a private investigator isn’t successful with my case, can I get a refund?
Most investigation companies require a retainer if you are not a regular client. Some investigations may take longer than expected. If you have a set budget and results are not obtained, you don’t get a refund. The majority of the time, a good investigator will get results. We can find most people, but there are those who disappear forever. Law enforcement can’t find them, and sometimes we turn up empty.
The other instance, where the results you want may not be achieved, is usually during surveillance. The complaint I have heard most often over the years, is from individuals who hired an investigator to conduct surveillance on a spouse they suspect is cheating. It is a no win situation. If the investigator gets the goods, the client is upset, but if we don’t see the subject of the investigation in an embrace they feel that we are not doing our job. Sometimes the person isn’t cheating. For other types of surveillance, many companies will offer an extra day or two of surveillance if something goes wrong on our end.
Some skip tracing companies have a “no find- no fee” policy for locating people who have skipped out on loans, or to locate vehicles. Skip tracers are often licenced as private investigators.
What do I need to do?
Make sure that you are up front with the investigator. If you are hiring a private investigator you need to be honest about your budget. If you only have $500 and this will be an extensive investigation, we may be able to provide some assistance, or give you some tips on where you can find the information.
Read this blog, there are all kinds of tips for searching out information. When you hire an investigator, tell the truth. If you have a reason to hide information you are going to make it more difficult for us to do our job. Give us every piece of information that you have. Read my previous post “How to Save Money on Private Investigations”.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.