Any private investigator you consider should be licensed, and if they carry a
firearm they should be licensed for that as well. Often, private investigators
are retired police officers, military police officers, or other officers of the
law. They should be prepared to keep detailed notes, and have experience
testifying in court as to their observations. A good PI should have a clean
criminal record, and he or she should be prepared to work any hours necessary to
settle your case.
There is not necessarily an educational requirement to being a PI; in theory,
anyone able to pass the licensing test and experience requirements can get a
private investigator’s license in any given state. Many PIs do specialize in a
specific area, such as following spouses, doing extensive background checks, or
tracking down missing persons.
Because it’s easy to claim specialization in any area (most states do not
license PI specializations), you should always ensure that your licensed PI is
going to give you what you have been promised. And because they work by the
hour, you should be certain they’ll get the job done as quickly as possible.
Here is a suggested list of questions to ask:
What experience do you have with cases like mine?How long have you been a PI? How did you become a PI?What credentials did you need to have to get your license? Are you insured and bonded?Are you the investigator I’ll be working with? If not, what are the
credentials of the investigator who’ll be working on my case? (Personally, I would not hire a PI unless I met the investigator on my case directly).How do you guarantee my confidentiality? (Very important).How much will this case probably cost me? You should expect to pay a fee up front that may or may not be refundable if the case takes less time than anticipated. Expenses should be specified as billable or not. Rates vary
from private investigator to private investigator. If you feel the rates are way out of line, remember cheapest is not always the best. (Likewise; most expensive isn’t either).
What Should you tell your Private Investigator? Everything. The more facts your private investigator has on your case, the easier it will be for him or her to determine the truth in your case. Who, what, when, where, why, and how are crucial; even things you think may be unimportant should be mentioned. If your investigator doesn’t ask questions
trying to get all this information from you, perhaps you should think twice
about hiring him. Your investigator should also give you ways that he or she
intends to go about resolving your case and discuss the pros and cons of each
method, so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Remember, a private investigator is not a “thug”. If he suggest doing things against the law to handle your situation, he is not the man you need helping you.