Before you hire a private investigator, it is vital that you verify if the person is licensed to conduct private investigations. A license insures that a private investigator has proper experience and documentation to prove that he or she can legitimately provide you with this kind of service.
Why you should hire a licensed private investigator
In most countries, a prospective private investigator or PI is required to meet strict standards, background checks, and undergo and pass testing before being given a license to practice. In New York, for instance, a licensed private investigator must have acquired a lot of experience and pass a background check. For experience, a private investigator must have worked at least three years in law enforcement, or must prove that he or she has experience working in an investigative capacity for a licensed investigative firm. His or her background check must not show any criminal record.
Before getting licensed, the investigator must have shown mastery of specific investigative activities. For instance, if you hire a private investigator to find out if your spouse is cheating on you, it is important and useful if the investigator has previously demonstrated the skill to find and report this type of information responsibly. Furthermore, if the private investigator you intend to hire is licensed, he or she will be able to get cooperation from other law enforcement officials or agencies in the process of seeking access to information or services for you.
Beware of unlicensed private investigators
A private investigator who practices without a license likely has a dubious character and may be involved in shady dealings. You do not want to be on the witness stand some day talking about how you were tricked and how all of your personal information was sold or leaked by the investigator you hired. So before you hire a private investigator, take some time to do some investigating of your own; know who you are dealing with and what experience he or she has in investigating a case like yours.
Verifying a private investigator
Before you hire a PI, it is recommended that you ask for the investigator’s license number. With this piece of information, call your local investigative licensing authority to find out if the license is valid. This simple verification process on a prospective private investigator will also tell you if the license has been revoked or is expired.
Many licensing authorities will also have information available about whether there have been any reports of misconduct or any compaints filed against the investigator. It is very important to remember that if you want a thorough investigation, you must hire a PI who has been licensed and who has the experience to do the job you need him or her to do.
Fees when you hire a private investigator
Some private investigators will quote you a set price for a fairly routine investigation while others will charge you on an hourly basis. All unique investigations will be charged on an hourly basis. You are also responsible for paying any other expenses your private investigator will incur while investigating your case. These expenses may include transportation, hotels, and telephone.
If your investigation is a fairly simple one, it may cost more to pay a flat fee than hourly, but it is usually in your best interest to go in that direction because you have control over your costs. The most important thing, however, is that you are comfortable with the private investigator you hire and that he or she has the experience and skills to get the job you are paying for done correctly.