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How much does a private investigator cost-- find out what we have learned in the past 52 years.


Updated: April 4th, 2019 - Private investigator costs vary depending on the complexity of the investigations and the costs involved.


The definitive hiring guide from International Counterintelligence Services, Inc. an investigations agency in business since 1967.

--Special thanks to all the investigators whom made this possible.--

Abstract:

What is a private investigator?

What services can I hire a private investigator to do?

How much does a private investigator cost?

Is a private investigator worth it?

How do I hire a private investigator?



Abstract:

If you need access to specific information in order to satisfy a curiosity or make a better decision about how to solve a problem, you might benefit from hiring a private investigator. Hundreds of people start private investigation cases each day and finding a private investigator to handle your case has never been easier. However, with modern one-to-many technology and the many options available to you, it can be hard to navigate the decision process. This buying guide will help you understand everything you need to know before you place your case in the hands of a private investigator.

What is a private investigator?

Private investigators are trained professionals who carry out investigations on behalf of private clients. They discreetly help people gather facts and gain access to secret, hidden or hard-to-access information. An experienced private investigator will be licensed to use robust databases, collect evidence, conduct surveillance and complete in-depth research in their investigation of personal and legal matters.

What services can I hire a private investigator to do?

Private investigators are known for “getting to the bottom” of most issues that ordinary people may face. With special access and regulatory authority they are able offer a variety of different services unique to their industry, all with the goal of providing information to clients that makes their lives easier and more secure. Different private investigators may offer different services depending on their regional location. training and background. Many private investigators are trained to clients with:

  • Background checks
  • Identifying phone numbers
  • Vehicle registration searches, criminal record searches and obtaining legal documents
  • GPS tracking placement
  • Interviews for information
  • Surveillance video and photos
  • Locating a person
  • Identity theft
  • Fraud
  • Protection against theft or threats
  • Evidence gathering for court hearings/private attorneys
  • Suspicions of infidelity

Of course, not all client requests are as straightforward as these. If you have an issue that you believe might be best resolved by an investigation that gives you access to information you wouldn’t have otherwise, you might benefit from a private investigator. It’s always worth a quick phone call to find out.

How much does a private investigator cost?

The cost of a private investigator in the United States will vary from case to case depending on the expertise of the private investigator the amount of work/hours your case will require, the state the work will take place in, the complexity of your case and any extra expenses the private investigator might incur (like travel, mileage, per diems or hotel room charges). Some providers will charge by the hour while others will charge a flat-fee for a particular service. Be aware that most require retainer fees as well. To get the best, most accurate estimate of how much you can expect to deposit into an account with a private investigator to work on your case, you should schedule an initial consultation with a firm of some magnitude.

If you are still in the early stages of your private investigator research, you can get a preliminary quote using a trusted cost estimate tool such as our unique Cost Estimate tool This particular private investigator cost calculator was built using actual case prices reported for 132 different types of cases completed over the past 52 years (since 1967 as of now) and it factors region and self-derived complexity. It supplies potential clients with the most accurate quote of any tool on the internet. According to the calculator, here are the cost ranges for the top four types of private investigation requests:

  1. Divorce Investigations: Estimated average cost range for easy to difficult cases: $1029-$1929
  2. Locating a Person: Estimated average cost range for easy to difficult cases: $511-$957
  3. Background Investigations: Estimated average cost range for easy to difficult cases: $545-$1021
  4. Child Support Enforcement and Collection: Estimated average cost range for easy to difficult cases: $866-$1623

If your case falls outside of these types, it is easy to calculate the estimated cost from the tool. Just select your state and case type from the drop-down menu, select the case difficulty level and submit the information for your quote range. Don’t worry if the number looks out-of-budget; there might be room for adjustment depending on your specific request. Always pick up the phone and give the private investigation firm a call before you write your case off based on the price. Most investigators are quite passionate and will not let money stand in the way of a good case. 

Is a private investigator worth it?

Before you decide that a private investigator is the best option to help provide resolve your issue and provide the security you deserve, detach whatever emotional motivations you have-- using logic think rationally about whether a private investigator is unnecessary. Sometimes, you might be able to resolve an issue quickly and easily by yourself and many times there is no better choice to hire a investigator for orderly results. Other times, the issue may not be a good fit for a private investigator – especially if it requires them to obtain private information from regulated and statutorily protected records..

Remember that private investigators are not above the law, and while they can often gain access to records that require a court order, their work only covers a certain scope. If logic tells you that your request falls outside of that scope, it may be worth looking into a private investigator’s services to explore their capabilities. 

Of course, if your concern is within the capacity for a private investigation, hiring a professional private investigator may be warranted. “Worth it” is hard to pinpoint since it highly personal and subjective. Generally speaking, if a problem you’re facing is serious enough that you’re considering a private investigation, it’s objectively worth it.

Private investigators can provide much value to their clients. When people need to find out information, hiring a private investigator is simply a form of meeting due diligence. Often, people need help gathering facts so they can make an informed decision and/or implement next steps in resolving a problem. They can also gather evidence for court, which is almost always worth it when someone’s life, reputation or financial well-being is in the hands of a jury or judge. Clients experience a private investigator’s value in the following forms:

  • Increased peace-of-mind
  • Access to information that gives them an edge on situational decision making
  • Increased sense of personal or business security
  • Better safety management
  • Removal of doubt
  • More truthful legal case proceedings

How do I hire a private investigator?

Once you identify exactly what it is that you need a private investigator for and you decide that hiring a private investigator is “worth it,” you need to begin the hiring process. There are many private investigation agencies and freelancers out there who can help you obtain the information you require. A simple Google search for a top-rated private investigator in your area could bring up hundreds of results and it’s important that you understand all of your options and select the one that you’ll be satisfied with. In other words, you need to take your decision seriously and do your research.

As you review and narrow down the options available to you, you’ll first need to figure out what’s important to you. Would you rather stay within a tight budget, or is your focus on the best service – no matter the cost? Do you prefer a private investigator located nearby to you for easy face-to-face meetings, or are you okay communicating online if they are remote? What depth and level of experience do you want your private investigator to have obtained? Once you decide what’s important to you, you’ll probably notice that some of your private investigator options will begin to stand out. Some things to keep in mind as you narrow those down to a professional agency:

  • Will the private investigator do a free consultation?
  • Does the private investigator work as a freelancer, or do they have access to the resources of a larger agency or firm?
  • What state(s) is the private investigator licensed in? Remember, you can only use a private investigator that is licensed in the state you need them to be investigating in
  • How do they charge for their services? Hourly, flat rate, retainer, etc.?
  • Do they have a cost estimate tool you can use to get a quote before you even contact them?
  • Do they have examples of previous work? How do they usually present findings to their clients?

When you narrow down your options, it’s important to end up with two or three private investigators from whom you can easily obtain quotes from. If you’re using an online quote estimate calculator tool, like International Counterintelligence Services, don’t count your options out based solely on the online quote. It’s always better to pick up the phone and talk to an actual analyst, since there may be ways to bring the cost down to fit your budget. It’s also a good idea to ensure you can have a free in-person or over-the-phone consultation with them before you make your final hiring decision. Many large private investigation firms offer consultations, which are invaluable in determining who the right investigator is for the job you need done.

  • When talking to a private investigator during an initial consultation meeting, make sure you:
  • Ask if they have reviews and recommendations written about their services that you    can browse
  • Ask questions about their experience and training
  • Find out their practices regarding confidentiality and security (many states require that your investigation remains confidential and private)
  • Confirm their licensing and insurance
  • Share your expectations about the job you need done and the methods/frequency of communications with the investigator

Above all else, you want to get on the same page as the investigator who will be handling your case so that there are no surprises after you agree to hire them. After all, nobody likes buyers’ remorse. If you are ready to hire the investigator based on your conversations about project expectations and their rate, let them know of your intent. At this stage, the private investigator will likely draw up a professional services agreement covering the scope of work they anticipate completing for you, as well as a situation statement that details why you are hiring them. Make sure you read this carefully -- if it looks accurate, you can work out clear payment procedures and finalize the hiring process.

Start a Free Consultation using our online system 24 hours a day to receive honest help for your case or call.

  • We have a 24 hours dispatch service that can transfer you to the investigators mos ready to help you. You are speaking to a licensed case analyst.
  • We take calls at all hours, 24 hours a day and ALL holidays.
  • We offer a  free consultation.
  • With no regard to cost, we typically consult with 2000 people monthly.
  • ICS has "operated" since 1967, not just been in business, this means the team here is always working on cases.

Free Consultation usually takes 30 minutes...

  • We will ask questions
  • We will look beyond the problem
  • We will help you learn from our and our clients experiences
  • We will develop an action plan
  • We will give you a firm estimate of cost

What we do expect from our clients:

  • Please be truthful with us and upfront. The more accurate information you provide us with improves our chances of success.  We also would like you to notify us if anything in the case changes during the investigation
  • We ask that you provide us with your current contact information. This includes your current mailing address, telephone number, and email address. This lets us know where you are in case we need to immediately get a hold of you during your investigation.
  • We would like you to provide us with documentation and authorizations when we request them.
  • We ask that you do not interfere with the services performed by our investigators and other company employees.
  • We ask that you keep the product or results of your services confidential, and in no circumstances may you use the product or results for criminal or illegal purposes.

Start a Free Consultation using our online system 24 hours a day.

Case Studies

  • Overseas Lost Person

    Private Investigator finds a lost person in an overseas country 01/24/2019

  • Locate Lost Person

    ICS was contacted in an attempt to locate a Subject that had been in a 3-year relationship with the Client. 01/17/2019

  • Child Custody Exchange

    ICS was contacted in an attempt to have an Investigator on site to witness the exchange of a child from father to mother. Due to the legality of the exchange, a verified witness was required by the Client to document a proper exchange to negate... 01/08/2019

  • Case Study: Infidelity investigation in a Resort City Like Dubai

    ICS was contacted by a Client in an attempt to verify if her spouse was engaging in acts of Infidelity while on a stay in a city much like Dubai. Investigators were dispatched. We had boot on the ground in the resort and reserved their stay. In... 10/01/2018

  • Case Study: Due Diligence investigation helps business move forward with new investors.

    The private investigator for ICS helped our client make informed decisions about their potential investigators. With this case study the efforts made by ICS thwarted the clients suspicion and made for better business dealing. 09/20/2018

Recent Employment Applications

  • Independent Contractor OR Subcontractor

    Dallas, Texas, United States09/16/2019

  • Experienced Private Investigator

    Topeka, Kansas, United States09/15/2019

  • Private Investigator Internship

    Accra, , Ghana09/13/2019

  • Private Investigator Internship

    Chandler, Arizona, United States09/13/2019

  • Private Investigator Internship

    Athens, Georgia, United States09/12/2019

Paper and Press Releases

  • Join our team of Qualified Parties

    There is simply no agency with an international footprint that takes better care of its private investigator talent. "Our solution is simple, take care of you like our own!" -Michael Rabern 08/29/2018

  • Teen Cyber Bullying

    Cyberbullying has become increasingly common, with the increased use of communication technology, especially among teenagers.
    12/07/2015

  • Cellphone Spyware

    Cellular Spyware is basically "phone surveillance". It is an app that has usually been installed by a third party on a cell phone that allows them to listen to or record conversations, track location and monitor all the data of the cell phone that... 12/07/2015

  • Workers Compensation Fraud

    Worker's compensation programs are compensation plans for the victims of all job-related injuries.  When an employee gets hurt on the job, the employer is liable for medical expenses, lost income and other expenses until the employee has healed... 12/07/2015

  • ICS Will Not Do Cheating Decoy Investigations

    International Counterintelligence Services (“ICS”), a leader in the private investigations industry takes a strong stand against Cheating Decoy Investigations. 12/07/2015


Recent Investigation Inquiries

Origin Investigation Location Case Type
Lunenburg, Massachusetts Massachusetts, United States Locate Lost People
Columbus, Ohio Ohio, United States Background Checks
Omaha, Nebraska Nebraska, United States Technical Surveillance Countermeasures
Chicago, Illinois Illinois, United States Birth Parent Locate Investigation
Missouri United States Stalking and Harassment Investigations
Wausau, Wisconsin Birnamwood, Wisconsin, United States Cheating Wife Investigation
Winter Haven, Florida United States Witness Statements
Carbondale, Colorado United Arab Emirates Birth Parent Locate Investigation
Youngstown, Ohio Ohio, United States Surveillance (Beacon or GPS tracking)
Seattle, Washington Washington, United States Domestic Investigations (All Types)


Find a Private Investigator by Closest Region

The ICS private investigator network can manage your case locally or across multiple jurisdictions. Your case will be worked by qualified and licensed private investigators where applicable. Through the innovative ICS Licensee Program, we are able to provide local private investigators in several states. Not all services are available in all areas. All private investigators can be identified upon request according to State law. Find a local Private Investigator:

Birmingham
Huntsville
Mobile
Montgomery
Tuscaloosa
Anchorage
Surprise
Chandler
Flagstaff
Glendale
Mesa
Peoria
Phoenix
Scottsdale
Tempe
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Little Rock
Anaheim
Antioch
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Beverly Hills
Burbank
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El Cajon
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Elk Grove
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Murrieta
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San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
San Mateo
San Bernardino
San Diego
San Francisco
San Jose
Santa Ana
Santa Clara
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Santa Rosa
Santa Ana
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Stockton
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Temecula
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Vallejo
Visalia
Vista
West Covina
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Greeley
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Greenwich
Hartford
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Fort Lauderdale
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Tallahassee
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Hilo
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