Finding the correct private investigator to fit your needs:
1Make sure the PI works out of an office.
If the PI will only meet in a public location, or worse only talk to you by phone, you have no way of finding them if they run off with your money. When you walk into their office, take note of how it's arranged. While it's not always the case, a messy or disorganized office may give you some insight into the quality of the private investigator’s work.
2 Are they licensed in the state where the investigation is to take place?
Many states require the licensing of investigators. The licensing requirement has raised the standards of the private investigation industry. Licensed investigators have to pass a criminal background investigation, pass a written test and in most states receive Continuing Profession Education. Licensed investigators are regulated by a state board. If you hire a non- licensed individual you run the risk of that person being arrested for stalking or impersonating a license a professional. In many cases, non - licensed individuals may not be able to testify in court. In this instance your money has been wasted and your case jeopardized.
3 Ask for the private investigator’s license number.
Once you have located a PI you want to hire, ask to see his license and write down the number. It is illegal for a person to act as a private investigator without a license — it's also illegal for you to hire an unlicensed person. It's definitely not worth the hassle. If the guy refuses to give you his number, walk away.
4 Verify the investigator’s license number.
Licenses for private investigators are public record so you can check the validity of your PI's license number quite easily. What you need to do is call your state's licensing authority. The name of this authority , unfortunately, varies from state to state. Oftentimes, it's the state police, department of public safety, or the state's licensing board that handles the task. When you call, make sure the license hasn't expired, that the name provided matches your investigator’s, and ask to see if any complaints have been filed against him.
Dunn Investigations, LLC is fully licensed in the state of North Carolina by the State Private Protective Services Board.
5 Are they insured?
Investigative firms with insurance can, upon request, provide the client with a certificate of insurance from their carrier. In many states investigators are not required to have liability insurance or errors and omissions insurance. Uninsured investigators could leave the clients completely exposed to financial and criminal liability.
6 Are they experienced?
Many investigative firms advertise they handle cases in different fields. The problem is that their advertisement may not define their experience. It would be difficult for a firm to show proof of other completed cases but you can ask questions about how your case would be handled. In some specialized fields the investigator should show a certification in those areas, such as, fraud investigation, accident reconstruction and fire cause and origin.
Ask any questions you feel are relevant. At any point, if you don't feel comfortable with this person, excuse yourself and leave. As a good indicator of his ethics and proficiency level, ask about how the investigator has gotten into this line of work. Also, don't be taken aback if the PI asks you questions. He has to protect himself, and ensure that you're not hiring him to do something illegal.
7 Do they maintain a continuing professional education and training program for their investigators and are they in compliance with state requirements?
Many states as a major part of their licensing procedure require each licensed investigator receive a set number of hours of in-service training or continuing professional education from a state approved training program within a certain period of time before an investigator’s license can be re-issued.
8 How will you be charged?
Normally, investigative firms charge by the hour. Some firms will charge a flat rate on special cases. Make sure you ask what the hourly rate covers. Some firms will give you an hourly rate that covers only one investigator. There will be additional charges for additional investigators which would considerably raise the first quoted hourly rate. You should ask about other charges, such as, mileage, copies, video tapes, research and administrative fees. Do not hire a firm simply because they are the lowest bidder. In many cases you get what you pay for. You should also remember that your first consultation should be free.
Know how to explain your needs in a concise way. Bring all necessary information and documentation. You should also write down any questions you might have so that you don't forget them during the meeting.
Dunn investigations charges an hourly rate based on the type of work requested. A retainer agreement is required before the job is started. All hourly rate charges and expenses are charged against this retainer until the retainer limit is reached. Once this has occurred, Dunn Investigations will not go over the retainer amount without the approval of the client. This allows the client to have full financial control of the case.
9 Who is going to do the work?
Make sure the investigator being used is licensed and insured. Make sure the investigator being used is licensed with the firm that you have contracted and not a sub-contractor. Some firms that advertise they conduct your type of investigation may sub-contract the work to another investigator. This practice could affect you when it comes time to have the investigator testify. Since you had no control over the investigator they may not be available for your court appearance.
10 Is the investigator available for information and updates?
Any investigative firm you hire should make it easy for you to leave messages. Communication is very important in the investigative field. Situations change by the minute. You should understand that investigators are not always in a position to return your call but they should make every effort to make contact when possible. If an investigative firm acts too busy to return your calls, they may be too busy to work your case.