Top Ten Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator
Posted by Pamela S. on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Hiring a private investigator is one of those decisions you thought you would never have to make. Sometimes you have no choice but to investigate a situation to get to the truth. There are many factors to consider when choosing an investigation agency to handle your sensitive and confidential matters.
1. Does the agency have a professional looking website? While it is not always a good indicator (anyone can put together a website), the website should provide valuable information. Is there a physical address and contact information? If they only provide a cell number and email address, that investigator may be working out of their home. I’m sure that there are some fine investigators running Mom and Pop or one person operations. You will have more options working with a larger agency that has a wide range of resources. Many larger agencies have a central office, branch offices, and a staff of investigators spread around different parts of the state.
2. Does the website have a blog, such as this one? Many investigation companies realize the benefit of educating their clients about the type of work that they do and the way that they conduct business. A reputable agency is willing to provide some insight into their practices and the laws governing investigations. Gone are the days when investigators kept everything hush hush. We are regulated and must abide by state and federal legislation such as privacy laws.
3. If your state requires an agency and individual private investigator licenses, check with the regulatory body to verify that there is a valid license. In Florida, click on this link to go to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing search page. The agency license number should be posted on the company website. Work with a company that is local and knows the area, especially if they will be conducting surveillance.
4. Choose an investigation company that specializes in your type of investigation. An investigator who only works on domestic situations isn’t going to have the resources to conduct a proper due diligence or fraud investigation.
5. Fees are an important consideration. Everyone has a budget. Make sure your investigator outlines all of the costs. Most operate on an hourly fee and there may be extra costs for mileage and disbursements. Some agencies also charge administrative costs for report preparation or video. You get what you pay for. The cheapest may not be the best, but sometimes the most expensive investigation agency isn’t a good match for your needs. You will usually be asked to provide a retainer. You should also sign a contract outlining the details of the agreement.
6. Experience counts. Many private investigators have a background in law enforcement. Some investigation agencies also have security licenses or provide security services. If you run a business and determine that you may be in need of both types of services, this is an option to consider.
7. Ask for references, but don’t be surprised if the company is unwilling to put you in touch with their clients. Due to client confidentiality, an investigation company may not always be able to provide you with the kind of references you would obtain from another type of business.
8. Are they insured? In the state of Florida all agencies must have commercial general liability insurance coverage. The same applies to most states where licensing is a requirement.
9. Depending on the type of case, you may not need to go to the investigation agency’s office. Most investigation companies work with their clients through email and telephone. If it makes you feel more comfortable meeting the investigator in person, they should oblige you, or you should look elsewhere.
10. How often will the investigator update you on the progress of your case? Are they willing to answer questions and explain their methods? A confident professional welcomes questions. If you don’t feel comfortable with the investigation company, they may not be the right match for you.
The experienced team of investigative professionals at Sheer Investigations checks off all of the boxes. We are more than pleased to answer any questions you may have and walk you through the process.
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.