When you feel it is necessary to hire a private investigator (or pi as we are more widely known), search around – contact the better business bureau, local chamber of commerce, the yellow pages / white pages and get a feeling for each private investigation firm is offering. If your case involves possible infidelity – then look for a private investigation company which promotes infidelity investigations as a pronominent entity on their site, in blogs or in advertisements.
Email, Chat or Call the pi agency and talk directly with a licensed private investigator. Don’t waste your time with a secretary, ask to talk to a licensed pi. Why tell your personal details to a receptionist or perhaps it is even a call answering service.
Make sure you have questions written down already to ask. Include questions such as the following:
1. Are you a licensed and insured private investigation agency? Make sure they say yes to being licensed and insured, as well as being a private investigation agency – as some are just a security company who offer investigations by subbing out your contract.
2. Ask if the person you are talking to will be your contact person, should you wish to retain their services. If not – then stop right there and ask to speak to the person that will be overseeing your case. You most likely will not be talking to the actual investigator who will be conducting your investigation – but rather your case manager – which is fine as they are the people who are responsible that all goes well with your investigation.
3. Ask about fees.
4. Ask what is included in these fees. I am hoping they will say photos/video, and the investigator’s time on the case.
5. Ask them to send you their retainer and authorization form for you to read over before making a decision. In the retainer and authorization form you should find “other disbursements” read these very carefully – as this will outline other costs which will include mileage fees, photocopying, possibly photos and video as well as tapes, cd’s – that the video is to be transferred on, parking, admission, etc if you are worried about some of the costs and fee they will be applied – EMAIL – at this point do not call the pi agency back, but rather email, so you have a legal document stating your concerns and their answers should a discrepency arise later. Email your contact person and ask what are the specific charges for each of the “other disbursements”.
6. If there is not a mention of “disbursements” and you do not see mileage fees, photocopying, or any other of the above items – then email your contact and ask if they are all included.
7. If your contact will not send you a retainer and authorization form – then I would just move on to another pi agency. I would think to myself why won’t they send me the form to look over? What do they have to hide? No matter their excuse, you need time to look offer the contract, as that is essentially what the retainer and authorization form is – a contract for services.
8. I would call a few agencies in the area, and obtain their forms and sit down and really look them over. Do not and I repeat do not necessarily go with the lowest costing agency – as that is exactly what you will get – a low, inexperienced team of investigators. You get what you pay for. If the retainer form is a half of a page basic enter your information here and sign form, then this is obviously not a reputable or organized firm.
9. Go with your Gut! … Out of all the investigators who you talked with from the different agencies you called – who sounded the most sincere and understanding about your situation? …. whether it be a locate of an uncle you haven’t seen for years, an infidelity concern, theft issues, or perhaps even just obtaining a legal document from the courthouse. You must feel that your investigator / Manager handling your case is sincere and determined to do everything they can to bring closure to your situation.
10. Pay your retainer, sit back and relax. You have done all you can to hire a professional, expereinced and dedicated pi firm to solve your issues and bring immediate closure to your situation.
** One last note **
When paying your retainer – only pay a portion of what you feel your case will cost. ie: if your case should cost anywhere from $400 – $700, pay $500. Then the agency has to give you what they have to date, before you will pay any more. Just a precautionary measure.