BY ANDY KAY
Hiring the best private detective for your case and your individual needs is an important decision that requires the right kind of information and research. So let’s dive into the guide that will help you find the best investigator for your situation.
KNOW YOUR GOALS
Before you even pick up the phone to call a private investigator, and before you begin your online search, decide your goals for the investigation. Are you trying to gather all intel possible about a specific person? Are you wanting to definitely know if your partner is cheating or not? Are you wanting to decide whether a potential employee has a criminal record state-wide or nation-wide? Is your intent to find any hint of a former life of crime in your fiancé’s past? Do you want to prove to the court that your ex-wife/ex-husband is putting your children’s safety at risk during their time with your children?
I have put together a step-by-step guide to help you hire the right private investigator for your case. Knowing what information you want to gain and what your end goal is (what do you want to do with the information) is the most important thing you can do before looking to hire a PI? Certain information is only good knowledge while other information will be used as evidence in court. This will help guide you on choosing the best qualified private investigator or investigations agency for your needs. You will need to search online for the best investigator with this goal in mind.
MAKE SURE THE INVESTIGATOR IS KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT YOUR TYPE OF CASE
There are certain investigators who specialize in certain kinds of services, and some who are very limited in what they offer. When talking to the lead investigator, make sure he has general knowledge about things that are specific to your case. Talk to him at length about your case and see if he relates to and has knowledge of details. He should be able to discuss all of the details with you.
One example is regarding places involving the investigation or where the subject of the investigation may show up, work sites, if the subject of an investigation works at a construction company, the investigator should have knowledge regarding those sites, job requirements, normal practices. Same for restaurants or any other workplace. There are so many details that it would be endless to go over them all here but whomever you hire should be the one that can relate to your case specifics on the most levels.
KNOW WHAT YOUR SERVICES INCLUDE (AND DON’T INCLUDE)
Ask questions. Just like other services that you pay for in life, you may be unaware that you are only getting part of what you think you are paying for. Know what your goals are and make sure the information you are seeking may be attained through such services.
Also, if the person/company are professional, they should offer you a contract for the work they are doing. You should read it before you sign it, and you should with any contract. I will go into more of the contract later in this blog.
Ask about timelines for expected completion of your services and ask them how they will provide you results (i.e. via email, hard copy, flash drive, etc). There are some services, such as background searches that generally come back within 72 hours. However, other services such a court record requests may take up to 3 weeks. It’s always a good idea to know a general timeline of your services.
DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, OR PAY TRIPLE
Don’t just hire the first person you call unless you have researched other companies first. You need to make sure you feel comfortable with the company and that they are capable of accomplishing what you need done. I understand that emotions of wanting to find out an answer right now can overpower the normal decision-making process. But trying to hire someone for something so personal should be a well-thought out decision.
Hiring the first guy you speak with or the cheapest one you can find at the moment may make a mess of your case and affect the amount of information we can get from it, if the first guy goes in and screws things up. Investigations are one of those things you want to do right the first time, with the right company. Which brings me to my next point…
NEVER TRUST THE CHEAPEST OFFER
I have yet to hear someone tell me, “I hired the cheapest investigator I found and I was really amazed at the results I got.” I’m not going to say anyone who has hired the cheapest band in town never got what they paid for…I’ve just never met anyone who told me they did.
I ask a lot of my clients about their past experiences with other investigators and the stories have astounded me. I’ve seen so many people get bad information about their case or be completely misguided on how they should approach the situation.
There are actually a lot of investigators that only do surveillance and don’t have the ability to get basic information about a case. Many of these types of investigators have no clue about finding cases on past court dockets or even about the laws surrounding a client’s case.
It is important that the investigator/investigations company you choose have affiliations and has connections with a lot of agencies, businesses, and the community. For example, I has over 28 years in business, which means I have over 28 years of personal relationships with local law enforcement, local businesses, national business chains, experts in every field, hotel employees, hotel security teams…the list goes on.
If the investigator/company you chose is new to the business, do you think they can do nearly as much for your case as a company like mine? There are many good investigators and investigation companies, but make sure they are not lying to you about how long they have been in business! And make sure that they are licensed in the state in which they started. California is one of the hardest to get your license in–that’s why I chose to get my license in this state.
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Look up private investigators online. Make sure their online presence is verified and connected between their website and social media. If the company does not have social media, beware because that may mean they don’t have the funds (and aren’t the best at what they do) or daily investigations to spotlight.
Check the private investigator’s license number. If they say they have been in business for “over 25 years” but their license number is smaller than mine (for example) they are lying. I see investigators lying about their years in business all the time…I see very successful investigations companies do it, and it amazes me that people don’t even check out their license. It’s very easy to do. Just go to www.bsis.ca.gov (you can check ours here) and also check BBB (you can see our Kay and Associates Investigations BBB profile here) to make.
READ YOUR CONTRACT
There may be a lot of things you are not getting with your services that are stated in the contract. Or there may be hidden fees that you were completely unaware of when you signed the contract for the investigator to take on your case.
You really do need to read the fine print. Ask questions about specifics of what the service includes and excludes. The contract should include the services you are getting and the price you are being charged for services.
BEWARE OF THE GUYS WITH TONS OF REVIEWS AND VERY FEW NEGATIVE ONES
Private investigations are a very specific type of work…and it is very, very difficult to get many reviews. Also, because of the type of situation, keep in mind that many people will be upset with the outcome of the results. Let me give you a few examples of common situations in my business.
Example: you just found out your wife was cheating. Do you want to write a review about how the investigators caught her hooking up with her hot personal trainer? Maybe, but most people feel this is a private matter not to be shared.
Example: You know your daughter is dating a loser and you want intel proving that he has some sort of criminal past or information to make your daughter break up with him. Sometimes a person has simply never gotten caught being naughty and been tried in court for it. Some people do bad things and stay under the radar.
Sometimes there is simply nothing to find that is proof or evidence that you feel to be true. This makes people upset because they paid for proof when there was none to be found. Even though we did the work and research but there are no records on certain behavior. This kind of ending to an investigation can make someone feel salty even though we did our job.
So, keep this in mind when choosing a private investigator for your case. If they have that many reviews with hardly any negative ones, take a minute to reconsider. Of course, you want to choose a company with overall positive reviews! Just know that you should expect some negative ones too. There’s a lot of companies who pay for fake reviews.
When hiring a private investigator, you are hiring someone whom you must trust with very sensitive information. Choose wisely. Take the time to go through the steps I’ve listed so that you really do your due diligence before hiring a private eye.
If you have questions about an issue that you are considering hiring a private detective to help with, feel free to reach out to me on email or via social media. Me and my staff are more than happy to help you get the trusted answers you need fast.