Here’s a question that pops up so often, I figured I would share it with everyone:

How much does it cost for a private investigator to find a person?

At this point you have probably spent countless hours scouring the Web. Maybe you spent some money using one of the many online databases, reached out to everyone you know and have searched Facebook until you turned blue in the face.

You may have even used some of our tips in How to Find Someone on the Internet.

But you are stuck. Every lead you have found has ended up a dead end.

So now you are considering getting some professional help and may just want to hire a private investigator.

Of course, one of the questions that everyone has when they want to hire a private investigator is how much does it cost to find a person. The problem with answering this question, though, is that there are so many possible scenarios that the answer is not so simple.

I am going to do my best here to give you some realistic price ranges, but keep in mind that every situation is unique. There are literally hundreds of factors that can change things.

For example, the amount of information you have (full name, date of birth, etc.), the commonality of the person’s name (hint: finding John Smith is not going to be easy) or trying to find a person living completely “off the grid” may require investigation outside the scope of what is offered here.

Below is a quick rundown of how we approach it with our clients. However, keep in mind that this may not be the way every private investigator does it.

What Do We Do?

After gathering some initial information and before even taking your case, we will conduct a 10- to 20-minute phone interview, gathering as much information as we can in order to find the person.

After obtaining all the information, we will conduct some initial research to determine whether finding the person will be realistic. Only then are we willing to take on the case.

What Will It Cost?

We presume that you have searched Google and done all of the “normal” things to find the person you are looking for. If you haven’t tried tips in How to Find Someone on the Internet, go ahead, we will wait …

For a first phase, we charge a $1,000 flat fee (plus tax if applicable). This covers our time and effort, database costs and any other costs associated with finding the person during the first phase.

Keep in mind that it may take some additional work after the first phase if the person is difficult to find (see below), but we have a strong track record of finding the person in the first phase.

What Will Be Provided When the Investigation Is Completed?

At the conclusion of the case, in addition to providing information about the person’s address and phone numbers (if available), we will also provide some details that came up during the course of the investigation. For example, if criminal records, a bankruptcy record or court documents were identified during the course of the investigation, we will provide that to you.

How Long Will It Take?

Typically, it will take approximately five business days to complete the search.

Do You Guarantee Results?

I know that you probably want some sort of guarantee, but unfortunately, there are too many possibilities to guarantee anything. There are an infinite number of possible reasons that things may not end up the right way, factors that are completely out of anyone’s control. The person may be dead, may never answer your phone calls or letters, or may have moved halfway around the world and is living in the woods.

Every situation is unique and it’s impossible to guarantee that the person will be found immediately. In some instances, additional research or on-the-ground investigation will be needed to find the person.

But here is what we can tell you:

  • Our reputation is based on providing our clients with results, not giving false promises. We will do everything in our power to find the person, but we can’t make any guarantees.
  • Before retaining us, we will provide you with an open and honest assessment as to whether we think the person can or will be found.
  • We are realistic about our possibilities; we don’t take on cases that we don’t feel we can help with (frankly, we turn away more cases than we accept).
  • We have a very high success rate in finding people (you can check out our recent case study Finding a Biological Father).

Final Thought

We have outlined some general guidelines as to how much it would cost to find a person. We haven’t covered everything here, so if you have some additional questions, feel free to set up a time to talk to an expert in finding people.

Guide to Hiring a Private Investigator

Enjoyed What You Read?

Sign up for our newsletter and stay up to date with what Hal Humphreys, from Pursuit Magazine, believes to be one of the absolute best blogs in the investigative industry!

59 replies
  1. Bob
    Bob says:


    After the initial phase, what is the typical expense to a client and how is it broken down? I’m asking because I’ve started my own PI firm but not sure about a pricing structure. Any guidance would be appreciated.

    Thank you!

  2. Judy
    Judy says:

    Free Free Free I search for people. I have a group on facebook. It is called Where Are You. What I do is search for who ever you are looking for. I find them for free. If you have their name, age, and last known location I can find them for you. All you have to do is join the group and post. I wanted to post this here if you cannot afford to pay for the search. I wanted to pay it forward for all the nice things that have been given to me. thank you the link is here just click on it. It should take you to it. Again it does not cost anything at all. I do not search for adopted children are adults.


    • Peggy mckenzie
      Peggy mckenzie says:

      Judy if you can help me please do so I requested to join your group on Facebook I need help locating my 19 year old son thanks very much Peggy mckenzie

      • Liz
        Liz says:

        So Judy I find it very interesting and great you do this for free but I was hoping there wasn’t a glitch and there is so my with my knowledge I see you don’t find birth parents?

  3. Juan
    Juan says:


    I have a half brother that I would like to find. He was taken from my father by his mother when he was nine years old in the Dominican Republic. He is now 30 yrs old ,and last my father heard he lives in Miami,Florida. That’s all we know the state he lives in and his name.Is their any way of finding him.



  5. Amy Bailey
    Amy Bailey says:

    Hi, I am interested in locating a loved one who was in a car accident and lost his memory in that accident, had a brain damage and currently suffers from memory loss. Haven’t heard back from him since months now. All I know is that he was in Atlanta, GA then moved to Allentown or Princeton NJ with his family. I have his current phone number but can’t reach out to him, seems like phone is out of service.

    Thanks for all your help.

  6. Amy Bailey
    Amy Bailey says:

    Hi, I had a previous friend that had a car accident and involved in a terrible car accident in Atlanta, GA. He is now with his parents in New Jersey. I know his age, where he went to school and his family members names. I know he is in New Jersey, near Princeton or Allentown. Would it be possible to find him?


    • Amy Bailey
      Amy Bailey says:

      Also, I do have a phone number and a previous address of where he lived in Atlanta. Hope this helps. I just want to know of his current location in New Jersey.

  7. Oscar Olivares
    Oscar Olivares says:

    Is it possible to look for a person who’s name you don’t know? I know their past employer and school, but I unfortunately can’t remember their name.

  8. Cherelle
    Cherelle says:

    I’m trying to find someone I met one time all I have is an old number and a name and the number isn’t under their name would it be impossible to find him?

  9. Jake
    Jake says:

    Im trying to find my father i only know his full name but he does pay child support but they wont give me his information my mother told me where my grandmother (father side) lives/d but i only know the street and prprobably the zip code but i dont know her name.. is their anyway to find him? And how much will it cost?

  10. jessica
    jessica says:

    IM trying to find someone i use to work with all i have is his name and estimated age we had something at one point but its been 4 years he left to attend boot camp in ither marines or navy i want to find him so bad how much could this possibly cost at this point im desperate

  11. Emma
    Emma says:

    I’ve been searching and searching for m birth mother and no luck so far, This upsets me because I have ALOT of info of her. Such as ssn and birthdate, Birthplace etc. I’m not sure where to go from here. A private investigator will cost way to much for me right now. Anybody have any advise?

  12. Rosebud Melarkey
    Rosebud Melarkey says:

    I’ve been trying to trace my birth mother for years. I have seached the web endlessly but all I have is her maiden name and 2 other married names but I know she is nolonger married to them. My father isn’t on my birth certificate so I need to find her to find out his name. I, m pretty sure I, ve found her fathers obituary on line(he lived and died in ontario, canada) but she isnt mentioned.i think my mother was born in cleveland, ohio. She also lived in ontario. She was pregnant with me when she flew to london, England. She disapeared in 1980. I was told She left me in England and went back to either U.S.A or Canada. honest I, d be happy to find anyone that knew her as I haven, t seen her since 1979(I was 4yrs). My question is this..is this one of those complicated cases? Are we talking thousands of £ or $’s? And would it be cheaper if I said take your time and dont treat it as a priority case? I dont have thousands :)

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Given the amount of time that has passed and the multiple countries involved, this is certainly on the more complicated side and would most likely cost in the thousands in order to get somewhere that is beneficial for you.

      • Emma
        Emma says:

        That’s kinda the same situation I am in , I have all the different places she has been her personal info but the web has been no help,

  13. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I’m looking to find my sister. I have her first and last name, date of birth, last known address and phone number from 5 years ago.

    • Judy
      Judy says:

      Nicole, If you have not found your sister read my post. I look for people for free. I am on facebook. The group is Where Are You. come see me I will find her for you.

  14. Johnetta C.
    Johnetta C. says:

    Hello, I’m curious to if I can find my biological father. I don’t have a lot to work with other than a name he may have been called. My biological mother says she used to call him Bobby. His name could’ve been Robert Sinclair, not sure. But she do know that he had a sister that was murdered around the same time that I was born. And he was from Stockton, CA. Is the anyway you could find him with this info.

  15. Theresa Martinez
    Theresa Martinez says:

    i’m trying to find my biological father the only thing i know of him is his first and last name and from what my mother says he last lived in north carolina any help?

  16. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I’m looking for an old friend. I have their first and last name, their age, what school they went to, what college they went to, where they grew up and the last place I know they lived. Any idea how much it would cost to locate them?

  17. Shelley
    Shelley says:

    I am wanting to find my child’s father. He signed her birth certificate and I have his name and info from that but not much else. She has asked me to help her. I would like to be able to but don’t know how anymore. Please help if you can

  18. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    I have a slightly challenging situation with my step-mother. I live in New York. They live in Florida. She notified me that my father was terminal this past winter. She has always tried to prevent is from having a relationship. My father is no longer able to contact me himself. She has blocked every method of contacting him and text me yesterday that he has days left to live. She has also shut out my grandfather, uncles and everybody else on his side of the family. She even packed up and moved him to another city without notifying anybody. My father is receiving hospice services and I know he would want me to be there. Is there any way to find his new address and if so, do I have any rights to see him? Can you give an estimate of how much time it may take to find him? I have his name, dob and ss#. They tend to live a bit off the grid. Everything may be in my step-mothers name at this point. All I have is her full name. Please let me know if you may be able to help. Thank you for your time.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      Finding someone who lives “off the grid” can be challenging and typically requires some on-the-ground work. It’s not impossible, but does require quite a bit in the way of resources. As to whether you have the right to see him, that question is better answered by an attorney.

  19. Kat
    Kat says:

    I’m trying to find someone I knew/worked with one summer almost 10 years ago. I just know their first name and where they worked at the time. Would it be impossible to find this person?

  20. jesse
    jesse says:

    I have been trying to find a childhood friend who I haven’t seen since I was seven years old. Right now I’m thirty. She lives/lived in New York, and I’m in JerseyNow all I have is the first name, and the address of the apartment building she used to live in. Do you think you can do anything with this info?

  21. Betty Dawson
    Betty Dawson says:

    I am trying to locate my biological father. His full name is Robert Edward Dawson Jr.. From my understanding my mother and him were wed in Baltimore Maryland in 1965. He was suppose to be in the national guards. His family was from Virginia. Do you think you can help.

  22. Richard Baldwin
    Richard Baldwin says:

    I’m looking for a military friend, that was stationed at the same base as I was in 1980. I know their nickname and possibiy their full. I know the base we were at, the group they were in, and the general area of the occupation/Job. I keeping hitting brick walls, or get overwhemling info, there’s no middle ground. There is 1980, then 2014. I got nothing, what could you do with something like this?

  23. Tina
    Tina says:

    I met a man (in his 40s) who took a picture with me at a museum in Munich, Germany in September 2013. All I know is that he was on a business trip with some of his colleagues from Holland.
    I have a picture of him, but I don’t know his name or any other details. I know this is a long shot but can you help locate him? Thanks!

  24. Zuleimarie Figueroa
    Zuleimarie Figueroa says:

    I’ve been looking for my biological father for a while now. I would like to know how much it would cost to find him. I heard it depends on the information and distance. I know his birth year and slightly his exact birthdate, I know his name, the state he was born in, and the country he lived in when i was born. That’s about it and I’m hoping to get some new information.

  25. Collins Baffoe
    Collins Baffoe says:

    I am seriously looking for a man who did me a favor some years back in Alaska. I only have his last known address and his full name. I guess he might have left Alaska. I have tried everified and it gave me so many people with the same name that I think using a private investigator could be the best way to pin-point him from those many names since I do not want to be calling everybody.
    Can you locate a person with just the full name and the last known address? and what will be the cost

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:


      Please give us a call to discuss further to see if we can assist. Based on what you provided, I am certain we can help, but would need some additional details.

  26. Jarris Fuller
    Jarris Fuller says:

    Brian, I’d be interested to know your thoughts on providing an address for a client looking to locate a female. I’m a PI too (in Australia) and generally I say no to that type of inquiry, unless I either get permission from the located person to pass on that info, or I’m providing that information to a lawyer or an agent conducting a commercial (debt recovery) locate. This criteria is always spelled out beforehand.

    Do you have any guidelines/procedures in place to prevent what “seems” to be a plausible reason for locating a female’s current whereabouts, but might not be?

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      These can get dicey. It’s partly a gut feel as to the reason as to why he wants to get in touch with her. I would ask him pointed questions like “is there an order of protection against you?”

      In most of these cases, I would get the money up front and tell him that you will reach out to the women first and see if they want to their contact information to be passed along. If they agree to that, I don’t see any issue with it.

      • Irma Gerd
        Irma Gerd says:

        I find it interesting that you both are only framing this in terms of finding a female. Men have stalkers too.

  27. Robin
    Robin says:


    I fancy you lot have heard this story a million times, but I have been trying to find a childhood friend online for quite some time, with no success. Which brings me here. The only information I can provide on the individual is his/her first and last name (both of which are common), the city the person lived in as a child (I do not know whether the person has since moved or not), the person’s rough age, and what elementary school the person went to and when. With this information (which I know is scarce), would a private investigation even be realistic?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      It’s possible. Frankly you never know until you get into it. If you give me a call and provide me with all of the details, I can give you a reasonable assessment as to whether it’s possible.

      • Robin
        Robin says:

        Is there any chance we could communicate via e-mail? I am slightly autistic, so I often have a hard time making phone calls.

  28. V. Contreras
    V. Contreras says:

    I am trying to locate the circumstances surrounding my father’s death. I never knew him but recently discovered that he died and was buried in 2000 in Puerto Rico. I have some of his military records, and SS#. How difficult would it be to locate this information as well as potential relatives when it is a U.S. territory like PR.

  29. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    I’ve been looking for a friend I went to school with in the late 80’s. I haven’t spoken to or heard anything about him in 20 years. I’ve searched everywhere, for years, but he has a common name so it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. I do have some information, but not a SS#, will this be next to impossible without that? Thank you.

  30. Alpha Jenkins
    Alpha Jenkins says:

    I’m interested in locating my child’s biological father. He is retired military and shouldn’t be all that difficult to find. I have a social security number and other pertinent information.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Comments are closed.