A Private Detective or Private Investigator (PI) is a person who conducts investigations, usually for a private citizen, business, or organization. They also can work for attorneys in civil cases or criminal cases on behalf of a defense attorney or a client. Many Private Investigators work for insurance companies to investigate suspicious insurance claims for that company. Some Private Investigators also are hired to search for evidence of adultery or other illegal conduct within a marriage to establish grounds for divorce or child custody. Within the Private Investigation Industry nation wide adultery or other "socially unexcitable behavior" by spouses and partners is one of the most profitable activities investigators undertake.
Private Detectives also conduct process serves, background checks, skip tracing, and locating of missing persons. Many agencies across the country specialize in one particular field of expertise. Some PI agencies deal only in skip tracing, others may specialize in surveillance, and still others may specialize in bug detection which is the locating and disposing of unwanted forms of electronic surveillance often found in corporate espionage or personal eves dropping cases. Some of the other many specialties a PI might have is Fraud Investigations, Personal Security or Bodyguard details, and Computer Forensics to name a few.
Private Detectives and Private Investigators often work irregular hours due to of the needs of there case which require them to conduct surveillance and contact people who may or may not be available during normal working hours. Early morning, weekend, holiday, and evening work is common. Most Private investigators and private detectives spend a majority of there time away from their offices conducting interviews or surveillance, but some work in their office most of the day conducting computer searches and making phone calls. Those who have their own agencies and employ other investigators may work primarily in an office and have normal business hours. Sometimes an investigation calls for the investigator to be armed, such as certain bodyguard assignments for corporate or celebrity clients. Investigators and detectives who carry handguns must be licensed by the appropriate authority in most cases to carry a firearm on duty. However, a weapon is not necessary, because the purpose of the work is gathering information and not law enforcement or criminal apprehension.
Most states require that Private Investigators be licensed. Some Private Detectives are former police officers or former military, although many do not have that kind of professional background. Many states have strict laws that govern and regulate the Private Investigation industry in there state. A Private Investigator often works long hours, keeping detailed notes and video for reports to supply to there clients and often spend most of there time in the field conducting surveillance related work. Many Private Detectives have college degrees or have taken criminal or legal investigation related courses to better prepare themselves for there particular field of investigation. Private investigators and private detectives typically have previous experience in other occupations that prepares them for there career as a Private Investigator. Some previously worked for insurance or collections companies, in the private security industry, or as paralegals. Many investigators enter the field after serving in law enforcement, the military, government auditing and investigative positions, or federal intelligence jobs, which makes them an expert in that field of investigation due to there experience.
Former law enforcement officers, military investigators, and government agents, often become Private investigators or private detectives, others from such fields as finance, accounting, commercial credit, investigative reporting, insurance, law, etc. These individuals often can apply their prior work experience in a related investigative specialty and be considered experts in there field.
A background in subjects such as criminal justice and police science can be helpful to anyone interested in Private Detectives and Private Investigators employment. Most corporate investigators require having a bachelor's degree, preferably in a business-related field. Some corporate investigators have a master's degree in business administration or a law degree, while still others are CPAs. Corporate investigators hired by large companies may receive formal training from their employers on business practices, management structure, and various finance-related topics. The screening process for potential employees typically includes a background check for a criminal history.
The majority of States require private investigators and private detectives to be licensed in there state. Licensing requirements vary, dramatically. Seven states (Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, and South Dakota) have no statewide licensing requirements, other states have very few requirements, and many more states have very stringent regulations. A growing number of states are enacting mandatory training programs for private detectives and investigators. For example, the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services of the California Department of Consumer Affairs requires private investigators to be 18 years of age or older, have a combination of education in police science, criminal law, or justice and experience equaling 3 years (6,000 hours) of investigative experience, pass a criminal history background check by the California Department of Justice and the FBI (in most States, convicted felons can not be issued a license), and receive a qualifying score on a two-hour written examination covering regulations and laws. There are additional requirements for a firearms permit.
Most private-detective agencies are small, with little room for advancement due to not more than one to three Private Investigators in the Firm. Usually, there are no defined ranks or steps, so advancement takes the form of increases in salary and assignment status. Many detectives and investigators work for detective agencies at the beginning of their careers and, after a few years, start their own Agency after receiving the necessary experience. Legal and corporate investigators may rise to supervisor or manager of the security or investigations department.
When you need the services of a private investigator, how do you tell the difference between the good and the bad candidates? Don't waste your time and money by just blindly picking somebody who might not be able to do the job. By following these guidelines, you'll be able to find the best private investigator for your case, whatever the need may be.
1: Get a referral.
Ask somebody you know and trust, your attorney, a co-worker or a friend, if they have ever hired a private investigator, and what their experience was like. , if they had a good experience you still should check them out.. , if they had a bad experience now you know who not to hire.
2: Check with the Better Business Bureau.
Do a search on the BBB website or call your local BBB office. Look for candidates that have BBB Accredited Business. Even if a Private Investigator doesn't have an Accredited Business they will have a rating and this should help you decide if it's someone you want to consider.
3: Do an Internet Search
If you have identified some possible candidates, do internet searches using the name of the company and the names of the principals.
Do an internet search using their names if you now have the name of the principals. Put quotes around their name, run the search, and read any articles that come up. You may find both negative and positive information.
If you still don't have any good candidates, or you are looking for some more options, do an internet search using the words "Private Investigator", "Private Detective", "Private Investigative Agency" or "Private Detective Agency" along with the city in which you need the services, or at least the closest major city.
Check out the websites of the private investigators that come up.
4: Telephone Interview
Call the candidates and make sure you cover all of the considerations listed below.
5: Initial consultation
Set up an initial consultation with your top prospect and determine if they are the best private investigator for the job.
During each step of the process, keep these questions in mind:
Do they present themselves professionally on their website, on the phone and in person? How well do they communicate? They need to come across as professional, articulate and credible to others in handling your case, such as witnesses, your attorney, a judge or more info a jury. The success of your case is at stake.
Where and who?
Are they actually in or near the geographic area you need services? Who is going to do the work?
Many "national companies" will advertise as if they can provide services anywhere. Actually what they often do is subcontract the work out to someone in the area. Why research a private investigator's background if they're just going to pass your case on to someone else?
Do they have experience in the type of case you are seeking their services for?
The best private investigator will be able to get better, more cost-effective results. Even if their rates are higher, you get what you pay for.
Be suspicious of individuals offering services with unusually low prices or no retainer. They may not be qualified for the job, or they might have a history of bad cases.
Knowing who owns the Private Detective Agency will help you research their reputation.
You are looking for someone with ethics, integrity and a good business reputation. Again, the success of your case is at stake.
Some states, like Idaho, have no state wide licensing requirements, but some of the counties or cities may. A neighboring state probably does have licensing for individual private investigators and private investigative agencies. Even if your state doesn't require a license, see if your candidates have a professional license.
A license usually means they have more resources at their disposal than the non licensed private investigator. It also usually means they have a clean criminal record.
So what happens if you hire an unlicensed private investigator when a license is required? Any evidence they obtain may not be admissible in court. This can lead to
a damaged case
and a possible lawsuit
Remember, you want ethics, integrity and professionalism.
What qualifies them to do what you want them to do?
It is not unusual at all for someone to start up a private investigative agency and have no more knowledge and experience than what they have obtained from a TV show
So ask them to tell you about their qualifications including education, professional affiliations, certifications, and experience.
Do they have liability and commercial vehicle insurance?
If a private investigator you have retained does something for you that results in a law suit you also could be sued. This could include committing some type of crime, a battery, an assault, a trespass, or he could have a traffic accident while on your case.
Investigators' fees vary, depending upon what you want done and their experience. For most investigations it is difficult to know exactly how much it will cost, so don't be surprised to be given an estimated range. Without a crystal ball you usually don't know what is going to be required to accomplish the objectives of a given investigation. I try to break down an investigation into phases, and reach an understanding with the client on how what you will try to do in the first phase and how much it will cost. Don't be surprised if a retainer is required. Just remember you usually get what you pay for.
Promises or Guarantees?
Be suspicious of a private investigator that guarantees results. Look for someone else if they make promises they probably can't keep. As in anything else, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Do they understand?
Do they understand what you want them to do?
Give the private investigator a brief description of what you want to have done. Make note of whether they actually listen to you, or are they more focused on the money. Once you have explained your situation, the best private investigator will offer different options based on your goals.
From here they should work with you in finding the most cost effective solution.
If after the meeting with your first candidate and you don't feel comfortable with them set up a meeting with your second choice and so on. , if the out come of your case is very important and has serious consequences don't jump to quick decision.. There is usually only one opportunity to do an investigation and it needs to be done.
By doing your research and asking the right questions, you should find the best investigator for your particular situation. Even if you have to pay a higher rate for the right person, remember, you usually get what you pay for.
A Private Detective or Private Investigator (PI) is a person who conducts investigations, usually for a private citizen, business, or organization. Private investigators and private detectives typically have previous experience in other occupations that prepares them for there career as a Private Investigator. A Private Detective or Private Investigator (PI) is a person who conducts investigations, usually for a private citizen, business, or organization. Private Detectives and Private Investigators often work irregular hours due to of the needs of there case which require them to conduct surveillance and contact people who may or may not be available during normal working hours. Private Detectives and Private Investigators typically have previous experience in other occupations that prepares them for there career as a Private Investigator.