10 Oct
2008
How to Spot a Legitimate PI from One Who’s NOT

telescopeWhen hiring a private investigator for a job – any job – the legitimacy of his or her practice should be considered. Performing an investigation is one thing while having the license to do so is another. To spot a legitimate PI from one who’s not, here are some things you need to check:

License
No private investigator can be considered legitimate if he doesn’t have a license to perform his duties. Licenses are issued by the state where an investigator will be working. To expand their practice and improve their business prospects, most investigators will even hold a license to practice in more than one state.

Always check if he does have the authorization to work in the area where you live. Make sure that the license is current. Licenses are usually valid for only two years. If the PI works with a firm, check the business or corporate license.

Should you require more assistance, you could get in touch with your state police or local association of private investigators. Check for complaints as well. That should give you a good clue as to how the PI works.

Experience
In some states, such as New York, for example, PIs are required to have a minimum number of years of experience. Check your local agencies for their requirements and then ask the PI how long he or she has been working.

So why the focus on experience? PIs who have sufficient background are much more familiar with the laws and the intricacies of the practice. These qualities are very important especially in serious cases that need the professionalism, tact and skills of the more experienced private eye.

Experience also determines the rate with which a PI will charge you for his services.

Specialty
Although PIs are trained to perform many different tasks related to their field, most of them have specializations. If your case requires someone with a background on a specific field, check for relevance. You wouldn’t want to hire a PI specializing in gathering evidence for divorce if your case involves searching for a missing person, right?

Insurance
Another important thing you should check for if you want to spot a legitimate PI from one who isn’t is insurance or bonding. Only PIs who are legally permitted to operate can carry insurance to cover for liabilities. Although there are others who aren’t bonded or insured, it’s often best to go with the one who offers insurance for extra protection.

References
Ask your PI for references. Legitimate ones will be more than happy to give them to you.

image credits to nobleIgnoble

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1 Oct
2008
What You Should Be Careful Of In Hiring Private Investigators

dangerNot everyone in this world can unfortunately be considered trustworthy, and this is something you have to remember when you’re in the process of hiring private investigators. All of them may appear sympathetic and eager to help, but you need to look deeper and dig for more facts to be certain that you’re hiring the ideal investigator for your need.

Hire someone trusted by people you trust.
If you don’t know any private investigator then try to at least hire investigators trusted by people you know and trust. You may not be sure of the investigator’s characters but you can at least personally vouch for the people who referred the investigator to you. That’s almost as good, don’t you think?

Verify facts.
A private investigator will have to supply you with his business name and address, a list of clients or references, and his license details. Make sure to verify all of them. Even if the documents he has submitted to you appear to be official and authentic, there’s nothing wrong with double-checking and ensuring that they are indeed valid.

Ask about SOP.
It is your right as a client to know how the private investigator intends to proceed with the case. This is especially important when you’re dealing with personal matters and there may be certain steps the investigator might take but you’d rather not have him do.

In many cases, private investigators submit periodical reports to their clients and ask for permission before taking any kind of action. If this is not part of your investigator’s SOP then make sure to have him include it. With these terms, you can at least be assured that you won’t be shocked by the total bill of your investigation.

Get everything in writing.
Oral contracts or agreements rarely, if ever, hold up in court so it’s best to get everything you agree upon in writing. Ask whatever you need to ask and don’t be afraid to ask for additional information if something still remains clear. Private investigation is costly and you need to know how much you’ll be charged for what to estimate the total cost of your investigation.

Once all terms and conditions have been agreed to, make sure to read your contract several times before signing on the dotted line. Don’t ignore the fine print!

Last but not the least, go with your gut instincts. No matter how highly recommended a private investigator is, he still isn’t the ideal choice if you don’t feel comfortable transacting with him.

image credits to John.P

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