You have a strong hunch that your partner is cheating—is there any way to know for sure? The stress and anxiety caused by uncertainty can be terrible, so sometimes people hire a private investigator, or PI, for surveillance and research.
A PI is like having your own private detective—their services can be useful not only for relationships but also for finding a missing person, conducting background checks, or investigating a potential business partner.
However, how can you be sure you’re hiring the right PI for the job? To learn more, keep reading to find nine questions to ask before hiring a PI.
1. Are You and Your Team Licensed?
When hiring a private investigator, one of the first questions to ask is regarding licensing. In some states, a PI is required to be licensed to work in the state.
Before hiring, ask if they’re licensed and ask to see a copy. If a PI is operating without a license, know that they’re probably working illegally—is it worth the risk?
Remember that if someone is working illegally, any evidence that they find might not be admissible in a court case.
2. Do You Have References?
A reputable PI should always be willing to provide references from their previous clients. Ask your potential PI if they’d be willing to provide them and if it’s ok for you to contact them.
If they seem hesitant to give references, it could be that they have something to hide.
When speaking to a reference, ask them about how they found the experience, if it was worth the investment, and if they’d work with the PI again.
3. How Much Experience Do You Have?
It can take years to master all the skills required to be a successful PI, so don’t be afraid to ask how long the PI has been working. Many PIs started their careers in the police force or as detectives, meaning they have decades of experience in surveillance.
While it’s ok to hire a newer PI, keep in mind that they might not have the same skills, network, and surveillance tools as someone with more experience. However, the trade-off is that younger PIs might charge lower hourly rates, as they’re eager to prove themselves.
4. What Surveillance Tools Will You Use?
A skilled private investigator will have access to all the tools they need to do their work, so ask the PI what tools they’ll be using when working on your case.
This could include a wide range of tools, including GPS, telephoto lenses, tracking software, or tapping into their police networks. The more tools a PI has, the more likely they are to get positive results.
5. Are Your Methods Completely Legal?
Unfortunately, there are a number of private investigators who work outside the law. Before hiring, work out if a PI is operating illegally or not. ‘
While you may think that it doesn’t matter, as long as they get results, this isn’t correct—there are stiff penalties for those working illegally.
Running a business illegally means that your PI is probably avoiding tax and might be unscrupulous and unethical.
6. What Is the Total Cost?
Before committing to a PI, make sure you understand the total cost of their service. PIs average around $50 per hour in the US, but can also go higher.
If a price seems too good to be true—it probably is! The truth is that the work of PI is often long, tedious, and can involve a lot of travel and surveillance, for weeks on end—be sure it’s within your budget, as it can often take time to get results.
7. How Often Will I Receive Updates?
Ask your PI about the frequency of their communications. Once they get started on your case, you’re sure to be eager to get results!
However, you’ll want to establish some ground rules about when and how often you’ll communicate. For example, you might schedule weekly updates to go over any progress on your case.
Sometimes, a PI might charge extra for more frequent updates.
8. What Details Do You Need from Me?
Once you’re ready to get started, find out what details the PI will need from you. This will include personal information about the other person that they can use to start their research.
Generally, the more information you can provide, especially about the other person’s location, the easier it will be for the PI to find them.
For example, what happens if a PI is close to finding someone, then they lose their trail? Find more information on missed connections here.
9. Do You Offer Any Guarantees?
What happens if the PI doesn’t have any luck with finding the person you’re looking for? Unfortunately, not all PI investigations lead to results, so be sure you’re aware of what happens in this case.
A PI may or may not offer any guarantees about their service, so always check on this before hiring.
Use These Tips to Hire a Private Investigator
Are you ready to hire a private investigator that will get you results? If so, use the tips above to find the perfect agency for your case.
While it can take a bit of time and research to find the right PI, followed by weeks or months of investigations, it can be one of the best ways to take matters into your own hands and get results.
If finding out the truth of a situation is going to give you peace of mind, hire a PI today.
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