The Complete Resource for Finding, Hiring, or Becoming a Private Investigator
Join Our PI Directory - Get Listed TODAY!
Go to content
How To Choose a Good Private Investigator (Quick Guide)
Published by in PI Hiring Tips and Advice · 10 June 2018
Knowing how to choose a good private investigator is a fundamental step you really can’t afford to mess up. Not choosing the right private investigator from the start will cause you problems - legally and financially - as well the feeling that ALL private investigators are no good – which is not true.

So we want to give you some useful tips on choosing and how to hire a private investigator so that you will feel confidence in them and not feel like you made a wrong choice.

Two of the main reasons you may think you’ve picked the wrong investigator are:

#1. They have become too expensive for the service they are providing
#2. They don’t know what they are doing or keep messing up
It is true that not all private investigators are good choices and you will need to separate the wheat from the chaff. But there are many good investigators worth many times their weight in gold that provide invaluable services.

As a side-note; regardless of whether a private detective is good or not, they cannot guarantee that your case will turn out favorably for you. Even the best investigators cannot guarantee they will give you the results you desire. So just because you are disappointed with the results of your case doesn’t mean you didn’t choose the right private investigator. An investigator can’t force someone to have an affair, or cause someone to commit a crime, just to prove the case “right”. If it’s not happening, it’s not happening.

Guide on How to Choose a Good Private Investigator

Here’s a list of things to check when looking to hire a good private investigator:

#1. Initial Search – when you start looking for an investigator don’t go looking on places like Gumtree or Craigslist. Good private investigators do sometimes advertise on these advertising websites but so do the fake, unlicensed and unqualified investigators. Check on official PI licensing or PI association websites, or an established private investigator directory.

#2. PI Associations – if you find an investigator through a Google search then check their website for any PI Associations they belong to. This usually indicates how good and established they are as they usually need to provide evidence of experience before being allowed to join. Check with the PI Association that they are in fact a member, as some fake investigators will claim they are but actually aren’t.

#3. PI Website – you can choose a good private investigator by checking their website for their services, experience and associations they belong to. You can tell a lot about the seriousness of an investigator by their business website. If they don’t have one or it looks unprofessional then what does it say about them?

#4. License – does the private investigator have a valid PI license? Not all States or Countries require a license so you will need to check your local legislation on licensing. Licensed investigators usually (but not always) put their license number on their website which you can check against the online regulatory licensing board for your State or country.

#5. Insurance – private investigators as a matter of course should have an insurance policy in case things go wrong. Some States or countries require, as mandatory practice, that investigators have insurance; but not all. Nevertheless it is good practice for investigators to be insured. So check they have some kind of liability insurance that covers you and your case if things go wrong.

#6. Choose Locally – it’s usually best to hire a local private investigator that operates in the area of the main investigation. Choosing a good private investigator that lives and works in the local area is better, as they will usually know the area better than an outsider. This can also save you time and money.

#7. Initial Meeting – it’s always a good decision to meet your choice of investigator in the flesh to get a good first impression. How do they come across to you? Do they look, sound and feel professional? Do they sound as though they know what they are talking about and what to do? If you can’t meet them face-to-face for whatever reason; ask to set up an online video interview with them using Skype. A good investigator will want a first initial meeting to ensure you are the real deal and not some time-waster or criminal trying to use their services for unethical means.

#8. Specializations – investigators can generally do most investigative services to some degree but just like lawyers, good investigators usually specialize in particular service areas. Check what services the investigator specializes in and whether they specialize in your type of case.

#9. Case Experience – so you think you have chosen a good private investigator because he specializes in your case type; but before you hire them, ask what similar cases they have worked on and what was the result.

#10. Keeping it Legal – private investigators are not above the law and are not government officials, so check with them that what you are asking the investigator is legal and above board. The best private investigators will ask you lots of questions and should be able to advise you on the legalities of your case.

#11. References – if a private investigator is good then their clients will naturally praise their services. You can ask if they have someone you can check with as a reference of their good work – perhaps an attorney or law firm.

#12. Setting Objectives – you should set what it is you want to achieve with your case and agree these objectives with your investigator. Check with the investigator on how they will achieve these goals and check if everything will be carried out within the law. A good private investigator will be quite transparent with you.

#13. Setting Budgets – before you hire an investigator, between you, set the budget of what you want to pay. The costs to hire a private investigator can vary significantly and if not established from the outset can make you feel you have made the wrong choice, if the investigator keeps asking for more money.

#14. Establish a Contract – a good private investigator will set-up a contract between them and you, setting out everything agreed upon – terms, conditions, liabilities, objectives, confidentiality agreement, retainer fee, service costs, refund policy, and any other special conditions. Do not choose a private investigator that doesn’t give you a contract.
The above guide will assist you in choosing the right private investigator for you and help you to weed out any bad candidates. In order for you to get the best private investigation service you need to do a little investigative research of your own. You can also follow these guidelines on how to hire a private investigator.

Back to content