Hire a PI: 7 Essential Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator

Should you ever need to hire a PI, or private investigator, there are several considerations you should first make. See, this isn’t a profession that’s as heavily scrutinized as it should be.

There are genuinely talented investigators out there with the background, knowledge, skills, and licensing to do the job well. And there are others who couldn’t investigate their way out of a paper bag.

Before you risk your time and money, learn what to look for! In the following article, we’re going to teach you just that. But first, let’s look at why you may need to hire a PI. 

When to Hire a Private Investigator

A private investigator isn’t someone you usually want to hire because it usually means you’ve got a difficult legal matter with which to deal. While they can be extremely helpful in those situation, you’d rather avoid it altogether. But if you do need to hire a PI, it’ll likely be for one of the following reasons.

Suspicion of Infidelity 

Marriages are huge emotional and financial investments that can set you back years, in both departments, when they don’t work. One of the biggest drivers of divorce — other than finances, of course — is infidelity. 

You or your partner takes another partner, ignoring the marriage vows and the emotional bonds that were supposed to keep you together forever. If you suspect you may be the victim of an extramarital affair, it’s important to tread carefully. 

Don’t act on hunch or instinct. Instead, contact a private investigator with experience tracking that sort of thing. If you do need to file for divorce, you’ll appreciate having the facts.

Customizable Background Investigations

Okay, so not every reason to hire a PI is a disaster. Maybe you have a sensitive opening at your company and really need to be able to trust the person you’re hiring. That’s where a private investigator can help! 

Usually, PIs are retired law enforcement. If you get one who is, chances are pretty good they still have the clearance, credentials, or connections to do a background investigation the way it should be done. And because of their experience and the fact they’re working directly for you, they can go a little deeper than most standard checks. 

Family Law Disputes

Do you suspect that a grown child’s co-parent is putting your grandchild in an unsafe situation while a divorce plays out? That’s just one family law matter where a trained PI can help surveil and gather the information that could later have legal value.

Insurance Matters

Insurance companies will often use private investigators. Their purpose: catch one of the many who commit insurance fraud each year. The cost to hire a PI usually pays for itself when companies are able to prevent fraudulent payouts. 

Other Forms of Surveillance

Any other form of surveillance that you need is ideal for a PI. Take, for example, the suspicion that someone is breaking into your business at night and stealing things. 

At most, police will do an extra patrol. But a PI can stay there all night until they’re able to catch the perpetrator red-handed. 

What to Expect

Now that you know when to hire a PI, it’s time to focus on the factors that differentiate a good-hire from a bad. Don’t sign any contracts or make any agreements in writing until you’ve had the chance to do the following.

1. Confirm Licensure

Every state keeps their own standards for PI licensure. Unfortunately, that’s not going to stop some shysters from calling themselves PIs. But if you do your homework, you can weed them out before hiring private investigators of any kind.

2. Contact References 

Part of the process to find a private investigator should include requiring references. Beyond that, call and personally speak with each reference given. And do some background research on the reference him/herself to make sure they are who the PI says they are.

3. Verify Insurance 

Another tip on how to find a private investigator worth your time and money is to check their insurance coverages. A proper candidate will offer some assurety to their client should something go wrong. PIs generally do this by carrying liability insurance to protect and provide peace of mind to their clients.

4. Examine Resume

Every private investigator agency — from the one-man operation to a robust and well-known firm — should have work history, education, and specific skills of their investigators. If they don’t, or if they claim they do but don’t freely offer them, use caution.

5. Request a Background Check

One option many clients-to-be don’t realize they have when hiring a private investigator is the background check. If the investigator has been arrested or had any criminal complaints filed against him, it’ll be part of the public record. Submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the individual. 

For civil complaints, you might consider a case search through your county circuit court’s website. There also may be something on-file with the Better Business Bureau. 

6. Finalize Pricing and Expectations 

The biggest mistake most clients make when deciding to hire a PI is failing to establish the full scope of the work offered and the expected results. Sit down with your prospective investigator and hash this out before ever paying a dime. 

Look for firms like this detective agency that refuse to even put you in the position of having to guess. Your satisfaction and their reputation depends on satisfactory work, so an agency that understands that is worth your time.

7. Get a Personal Feel for Them

Lastly, go beyond the background checks and the other confirmation flags presented here. Meet with your investigator face-to-face if possible and affirm whether your personalities will work well together.

Needing to hire a PI is stressful enough. You don’t want to get stuck with a jerk who doesn’t understand the importance of customer service and communication. 

Hire a PI Who Makes You a Priority 

Above all, do not hire a PI who fails to prioritize you. He or she may have other clients. But they should make you feel as if you’re the only one in their world. 

Good luck as you embark on this process. And for more helpful tips on navigating life and business, read more at Modern Thrill.