With more than 50,000 private investigators licensed in the United States, you might be confused as to how to hire a private investigator.
Below we have outlined some tips to help you out.
The most logical place to find investigators is through referrals. Ask attorneys or friends who may have some direct knowledge and experience with a private investigator. Also, search the Web to find investigators who may have specialty skills in the area you are interested in pursuing.
￼Do Your Due Diligence
Don’t let a fancy website or a referral from a friend of a friend of a friend fool you. Do your homework. Do some searches on the Web to see if they have been mentioned in the media or in other publications. Make sure they are licensed.
Most states have licensing requirements for private investigators. Make sure you check the local state licensing board to make sure they are licensed and there are no disciplinary actions filed against them.
You wouldn’t hire a wills and estates attorney to represent you in a criminal matter. Investigators have specialties too. Make sure they have experience in cases that are similarly related. It doesn’t need to be a perfect fit, but make sure you are comfortable with their previous experience.
￼Retaining an Investigator
Before retaining a private investigator, you should determine if you want to hire a private investigator on your own or through an attorney. Hiring a private investigator through an attorney gives you some additional protection in keeping the investigation confidential.
Most investigative firms will require a signed engagement outlining the general terms of the engagement. The engagement letter will also include terms of payment as well as deliverables, such as a report or a surveillance video.
If you are using an investigator for the first time, most private investigators will require a retainer. The retainer/deposit will be applied against any investigative activities.