Hiring a private investigator is not just something that goes on in romance novels about cheating husbands or movies..
If you're thinking about doing this, it's not uncommon in real life - and you're probably wondering precisely what it entails.
Before you take that step, read on to learn what to expect when hiring a PI.
Private Investigators Are Trained Pros
You may have images of a tiny office packed with filing cabinets and a desk littered with magnifying glasses and newspaper clippings.
Get this out of your head.
PI's are trained professionals who offer a professional service, licensed by the FBI after undertaking extensive background checks.
Try to get this vision in your head when hiring a private investigator, rather than the image of someone in a raincoat and a trilby hat. This isn't Columbo. Or Sherlock Holmes.
PI's Aren't Law Enforcers
Neither you nor the PI is breaking the law when you greenlight an investigation on someone.
The PI knows the boundaries of what he/she can and can't do and is liable for arrest as much as you would be if you broke the law.
Remember - if the findings of the investigation end up before a court of law, both you and your PI's records must be squeaky clean; any law breaking will work against you and in the favor of whoever you were investigating.
That said, PI's are at liberty to report a crime if faced with such circumstances - so even though they have a responsibility to keep things confidential, if you confess to a murder they will have to report you.
If this worries you, use a lawyer as the middleman between you and the PI to ensure attorney-client privilege is in place.
Where Do You Start?
Use a service like ICS to find a local private investigator.
Once you've made a decision, call and speak to them about what you need. Be upfront, honest and confide in your PI. It's confidential and you need to give them all the facts.
This will probably lead to a face-to-face meeting and/or further phone calls or email chats.
The PI will require every bit of information on what you're hoping to achieve, so they will be intrusive - they won't want to get caught out by any unexpected issues they weren't aware of.
They may even advise you that hiring a private investigator is not your best option after all.
Vetting Will Take Place
Expect the PI to dig into your background and the story you are telling them. They're simply making sure you are legit for their own safety and assurance.
If you are hiring someone to investigate someone else, expect your PI to ensure every part of the case is above board.
Is It Expensive to Hire a Private Investigator?
Each case is different, but often the initial consultation is free.
You may have to pay a retainer before work begins, however. This will vary from PI to PI and is between them and the client.
The overall rate will also vary, but a PI will often give you an hourly rate for you to base it on.
The number of hours is normally calculated by working out the longevity, man-power required and resources needed to execute the job.
Companies charge anywhere between $100-$300 an hour, but you should thoroughly research the fees when looking into which PI to hire.
What Happens Next?
Your PI will draw up a game plan for the case, which you will need to approve.
Expect them to be in touch with you regularly. It's unlikely they will simply say "okay, we'll call you in a couple of weeks with an update."
There's likely to be texts, calls, and emails clarifying things and updates as the job is being carried out. The case will end with a written report of what happened and what should or shouldn't happen next.
Hiring a Private Investigator with ICS
At ICS, we investigate everything from long-lost children and adultery to catfishing and employee theft. Check out our page of services to see what we can look into for our clients.
If you still have questions, feel free to contact us to discuss further.