5 Questions to Ask a Licensed Private Investigator Before Hiring

licensed private investigatorThere are almost 30,000 private investigation businesses across the US, and the number of employees in that industry is expected to grow 3% annually through 2025. The need for a legitimate, licensed private investigator has seen record highs due to a variety of factors, including background checks, child support issues, medical claims, and cheating partners. Of course, not all private investigators are equal, and it’s easy for the wrong one to waste your time and money. Asking the following question can help ensure you get the right professional for your needs.

What Areas of Expertise Do You Practice?

A fully functional private investigation agency should have several employees on hand to offer a variety of specialties. But the licensed private investigator you choose should not be a jack of all trades. While that may sound good on paper or on a bench ad, it boils down to lack of focus and potential experience for your specific needs. Verify your potential investigator’s expertise is compatible with the reason you’re hiring them. And then ask for examples and proof of previous cases similar to yours. The right pro will have plenty to offer as well as guarantee confidentiality.

Are You Licensed and Insured?

Forty-five states, plus the District of Columbia, currently require state licensing to be a professional private investigator. Only Wyoming, South Dakota, Mississippi, Idaho, and Alaska are exempt from that legality. Licensed private investigators are thoroughly trained to handle the legal expectations of their job in the state they practice. If their license isn’t prominently displayed, be sure to ask for the details. A professional private investigator handles delicate legal work, so a legitimate professional will also carry liability insurance to ensure any legal issues don’t come back to bite the client. Always verify and confirm they’re licensed and insured before agreeing to anything.

How Do You Provide Updates and Respond to Correspondence?

Constantly contacting or expecting answers from your PI can be detrimental to your case. After all, your investigator needs time to do the job you’ve hired them to do. However, they can and should still be able to provide regular and ongoing updates as well as respond to your concerns within a reasonable time period. Ask the PI what the turnaround on updates and their typical response time to client concerns are before signing anything or paying a dime.

What Will This Cost Me?

Cost is an important factor in any professional service, so don’t shy away from asking about it. But also, don’t get hung up on pinching pennies or finding the best upfront price possible when it comes to private investigation. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a private investigator is just over $50K nationwide. That’s far less than the average attorney, and yet they do a lot of work to earn that salary. Nonetheless, your costs will reflect that difference and depend highly on the time expectations, legal requirements, and the tasks at hand for your specific case needs. Focusing on the lowest price point possible can result in unexpected added fees later. And if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Can You Provide References?

Ideally, you’ll always want to start your search for a reputable private investigator through your own personal references–friends, coworkers, etc. The right PI will appreciate and encourage that since their business is built primarily on loyal customers and word of mouth. But whether you connect via a friend, through a Google search, a social media ad, or from some other marketing option, always ask for personal references upon meeting a potential investigator. A competent professional won’t disclose personal details about previous cases, but their references can offer personal insight into their professionalism and general practices. Give us a call to connect to the right licensed private investigator for your needs.


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