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How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Private Investigator?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Private Investigator?
So, how much does it cost to hire a private investigator? This is always the first question people ask. Well the answer is not so simple, as it depends on what service you require, or what task you are hiring the private investigator for.

We could be flippant and say a private investigator costs from $40 to $100 per hour, but that doesn't really help in understanding. In truth, the cost of a private investigator's services will vary because of a number of factors. So to give you some idea of what a typical private investigator fees are we have included a general payment structure to help you understand.

How Private Investigators Charge For Services

Some private investigators display their prices on their website, but generally it's calculated on an hourly or set service basis. The cost to hire a private investigator varies but here are some considerations of how investigator service prices are calculated:

Hourly Rate: Private investigators will generally charge an hourly rate for their hired services. This is because no two cases are exactly the same, and although similar investigative methods are used, the longevity of cases varies from case to case.

Examples of hourly charged services would include:

    • Criminal investigations
    • Surveillance operations
    • Matrimonial cases e.g. proof of cohabitation
    • Evidence gathering for litigation / criminal defense services
    • Some missing person cases

Set Fees: Some services are charged with a standard set fee and these are usually the simpler investigator services.

Examples of a set priced service would be:

    • Locus reports or accident reports
    • Basic background checks (database, internet and phone calls only)
    • Process serving (serving of a legal court document)
    • Tracing missing persons (database, internet and phone calls only)
    • Vehicle tracking (charged per day or per week)
    • Neighborhood checks (per property)
    • Witness statements (per statement)
    • Status or Pre-sue Reports

Additional Costs and Expenses: Aside from the set or hourly charged fees, which are usually charged per investigator, there will be additional costs and expenses.

Examples of additional investigator costs:

    • Fuel charge per mile / km
    • Gaining access to special events / entry fees
    • Hotels / accommodation
    • Flights / travel expenses
    • Special services such as forensics / TSCM (debugging)

What Changes The Costs Of Hiring A Private Investigator?

Skills and Experience Affect Private Investigator Costs

As with any profession you get what you pay for and hiring a private investigator is no different. You're hiring and paying a private investigator for their skills and experience and these skills and experience come at different levels and at different prices. You will pay more for specialist services such as computer forensics, science based services, or TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter Measures) debugging services. Skill, experience, and specialist services will increase the cost of hiring an investigator, so bear that in mind.

Location Also Varies the Cost of Hiring a Private Investigator

Another factor when considering how much it is to hire a private investigator near you is the location. Prices vary from country to country, state to state, city to city; so be prepared to see varying prices when searching for and hiring a PI. You may pay $100+ per hour for a New York private investigator but only $60.00 per hour for an Alabama private investigator based in a small town somewhere.

Also, if the private investigator you have hired works in one state but needs to hire the services of another agent in another state or country - to continue your case - you may end up paying a higher or lower hourly rate.

How To Find Out What A Local Private Investigator Costs

Just as you would shop around for a plumber to get a quote, you can also shop around for private investigators in your area to get quotes. But remember, cheaper is not always better, and expensive is not always the best.

Do some searching online for private investigator costs for your area.

Here's how:

    • Do an internet search for private investigators in your local area, type the search in quotation marks (using quotation marks will give you better search results) e.g. "private investigators new york city". Check all of the PI websites in the search results to see if they advertise their prices on their website.

    • Or, simply search for private investigator's costs or prices in your area, e.g. "private investigator costs new york city" or "private investigator prices new york city". Again, check the websites for advertised prices.

No luck online?

If you have no luck in finding out your local investigator's prices then it's a case of emailing, or phoning around. Before you do though, make sure you have the specifics of what you want clearly in your head, or written down. Before an investigator can give you some idea of costs they will certainly need to know the details of your situation and what you need or want. So this needs to be clearly communicated. And with this in mind, they will be able to determine the complexity of the case and whether it will be priced on an hourly of set-fee basis.

Our Final Words Of Advice On Private Investigator Costs

When trying to get an exact figure of how much it costs to hire a private investigator; remember, that the type of service, location, experience and specialist skills needed, will affect the price. Also remember, an expensive investigator isn't always better than a cheaper one and a cheaper investigator may not provide a better service than a more expensive one. If you want to hire a private investigator or get some cost quotes you can search our directory for a local private investigator.

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