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What You Need to Know When Hiring a Private Investigator

May 10th, 2018

People hire private investigators for a variety of different reasons. Whether it’s because you need to do a background check on a potential employee or help with a child custody case, a private investigator can help you get the information you need. If you have a potential case you think a private investigator can assist with, here are a few things to keep in mind when hiring a private investigator…

Service Area and Expertise

It’s important to know that private investigators have different areas of expertise. Some private investigators specialize in a subset of services while others can provide more of a variety of services. Therefore, you’ll want to hire someone who has experience in cases similar to yours. The other thing to keep in mind is that private investigator services may be specific to location. For example, if you need to surveil someone in another state, you may want to consider hiring a private investigator in that particular area simply because a local investigator will know details specific to that location. Additionally, he/she will not have to spend time doing as much preliminary location research.

Legal Limitations

Working with a private investigator can uncover a wealth of information to help you with a court case or to make more informed decisions.  However, you should be aware that there are legal limitations to what a private investigator can do. In reality, there are a lot of misconceptions about what a private investigator can and cannot do legally. Most potential clients would be surprised to find out that recording conversations without permission might be illegal or that sensitive records such as credit reports and financial statements cannot be uncovered without permission of the person in question. Private investigators are private citizens and are subject to the same laws that everyone else is. Consequently, you should be aware that what you’re asking a private investigator to do may not be legal.


Not all private investigators are created equally. Beware that there are fake private investigators and they especially like to advertise among forums and online classified ads.  If you’re looking to hire a private investigator, be prepared to do your own due diligence in determining if he/she is a good fit for you. Make sure that your private investigator is licensed, bonded, and insured. When hiring a potential private investigator, find out what their experience is as a private investigator and if they’ve done any cases similar to yours. Get references and check them thoroughly. Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if they’ve had any complaints. Find out if they can testify in court if needed.


You should have a general idea of what the cost will be before entering a contract with a private investigator. Your private investigator should be upfront with you and provide clearly defined costs associated with your case. Depending on your particular case, you could be asked to pay a flat rate, an hourly rate, or a combination of both. You should also be aware that you may be required to pay additional costs and you’ll need to know what those potential costs might be.


Hiring a private investigator can make a world of difference in your situation. Having a basic knowledge of how private investigation typically works and what questions to ask a potential private investigator is vital to getting great results and ensuring you have an excellent experience. Do your own research in finding an investigator that is the right fit for you and your specific needs. Remember, that the private investigator is not the only one doing research. You have a job too, and it starts the minute you begin looking for a private investigator.


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