Tips & Advice
Are there different types of private investigators?
There are many different types of PIs. The easiest way to differentiate is to break them down into specialties, which include, but are not limited to, background checks (for a potential hiring candidate or investment); civil investigations (gathering evidence for a civil trial); surveillance, (missing person, cheating spouse); insurance and insurance fraud (conning an insurance company); non-insurance related fraud (misrepresentation by a job applicant); corporate investigations (loss or theft of proprietary information); accident reconstructions (to determine cause, location, liability); domestic investigations (divorce, infidelity, drug, sexual or physical abuse); and infidelity and/or cheating spouses.
What is the best way to choose a private investigator?
The best way to find a PI is through a referral. If referral is not an option, begin by researching online to find PIs in your area. After identifying candidates, check their qualifications such as history, education, and practical experience. Interview the candidate, check affiliations and certifications, and, of course, costs and fees.
Do private investigators work with law enforcement?
In certain instances, PIs can and do work in concert with law enforcement in criminal cases. However, PIs do not have the same authority and, therefore, are limited in the scope of their investigative authority. On the other hand, not being a member of law enforcement allows the PI to work outside some of the strict rules that law enforcement and the legal sector are bound by. Often the PI is working in concert with law enforcement where information sharing is vital to all parties.
Is it legal to hire a private investigator?
It is absolutely legal to hire a private investigator, as long as both parties are operating within the boundaries of the law.
Can private investigators carry a gun?
Laws allowing PIs, or any private citizen’s right to carry guns, vary from state to state. Concealed weapons permits are a separate license. Laws on carrying weapons and concealed weapons vary from state to state, so research and understand the laws in your state addressing weapons and concealment.
Do private investigators carry a badge?
Private investigators rarely wear or carry any kind of badge. The reasoning is so as not to be confused with a law-enforcement officer, putting them at risk of being charged with impersonating a police officer. Also, there is no standardized or universal badge for PIs.
What services to private investigators provide?
A PI can provide a wide range of services. In addition to criminal and civil investigations they can conduct background searches; surveillance; locating people; missing persons searches; pre-employment candidate screening; checking the legitimacy of a potential investment; researching criminal matters; investigating the causes of fires; property damage or accidents; recovery of lost or stolen items; verifying employee's claims, such as a workman’s comp; and even debugging your office or home. Consult the PI during your first meeting or screening to discuss their services, experience and area of specialty.
How much does it cost to hire a private investigator?
As with any professional service, the cost to hire a PI can fluctuate.Location of investigation, complexity of the case, travel, additional staff, and expenditures can affect rates. PIs generally charge an hourly rate that can start as low as $40 per hour. That can climb into the hundreds of dollars per hour in some instances such as international travel or high risk cases. The nominal average in the United States is around $50 an hour. Be sure to discuss rates and additional costs thoroughly before engaging a PI for services
Are there licensure requirements for private investigators?
Yes. However, requirements vary from state to state so be sure to check with your state’s licensing bureau for specifics.
What is a private investigator?
A private investigator, often referred to as a “PI” is a person hired by an individual or group to provide investigative services. These investigations can be criminal in nature, but can also include issues relating to identity, infidelity, business and investments, occupation, missing persons, or character-related issues, among the many different types of investigations.