FAQ: Hiring a Private Investigator
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OR PI AGENCY?
- First find out if the state they are in requires licensing. If they are required to be licensed as a private investigator, make sure they are, by checking with the licensing authority. If you use an unlicensed private investigator in Florida or many other states, the information for your case cannot be used in court. As a consequence your investment in their services will be lost. Also in Florida a private investigator must work for a licensed private investigation agency.
- Find out how long they have been in business. All a crossed the US there are private investigative firms that have been in business for decades. This is good in many cases as long as the agency has stayed current with new trends and technologies for our profession. A way to gauge this is to see if they are part of any professional associations. In Florida we have the Florida Association of Licensed Investigators (FALI), which is a professional trade association for licensed investigators. This organization provides 50 plus educational opportunities annually for its members statewide as well as an annual conference.
- What else do I need to check before going with a private investigation agency? Most private investigation agencies are single person operations. This means they often cannot provide every service you may be looking for. There are several common categories of investigations: Corporate, Criminal, Civil and then services for the general public. An advantage of seeking out a mid to larger agency is that they often have multiple investigators who specialize in these areas. The Grafton Group is a mid-size private investigative firm, with several investigators and specialist on staff.
- How much does a private investigator cost? This is not an easily answered question. What type of service are you looking for? A basic background investigation on a potential mate, employee can cost between $150 to $300 US Dollars. Contrast that with a criminal investigator who can charge $150 to $400 per hour to work a criminal case which can mean the freedom or life of a person facing prison time.Finally if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. Affordable Private Investigations is when it is done correctly the first time and you did not have to hire another investigator to do the work the first one could not do. We believe that you should get the service you requested and a return on your investment (ROI).
- Beware of the following You may be a spouse who is involved in a child custody or a marriage where you suspect infidelity. Avoid any “cheating spouse private investigator” who have the following language on their website; “we dig dirt on anyone” – “catch ’em” – anything on anyone” etc. These kind of phrases are meant to hook you based on your emotions at the time. We have found that if you do go to court, the private investigators tactics and integrity will be called into question. Exhibit A, will be the PI’s own website. Hiring a Private Investigator is an important decision, make the right one.
- Small firm -v- larger firm, what is the difference? There are many advantages to both kinds of firms. A small firm – like any firm should care about customer service and staying in contact with the client. The Grafton Group is a mid-size firm that has a network of 300 plus investigators across the United States. The associate investigators are only called upon when their particular skill-set is required. This minimizes our over head. We have investigators on staff and our associates are nationally recognized as leaders in their fields. This flexibility of resources keeps our services affordable for our clients. Additionally we can quote a flat rate on many types of investigation services and ensure you are getting a return on your investment.
- Licensed Private Investigators and client confidentiality. Discretion and client confidentiality is very important to us and it is the law in Florida. “493.6119(1) Divulging investigative information; Except as otherwise provided by this chapter or other law, no licensee, or any employee of a licensee or licensed agency shall divulge or release to anyone other than her or his client or employer the contents of an investigative file acquired in the course of licensed investigative activity.”
- What is required at a minimum to be licensed as a private investigator in the state of Florida? To be licensed in Florida a person MUST have 4,160 hours of investigative experience at a minimum. This experience is often gained from a past profession, such as law enforcement, or the person has trained for years under a private investigator as an intern to achieve the required number of hours.
- What is the difference between a Private Investigator and a Private Detective? In a simple word “nothing”, the words are interchangeable for the most part. In some states there maybe a law which prohibits the use of the words private detective, as the word detective may confuse the public that the person is a representative of law enforcement.
- How does a person qualify to be a Private Investigator in Florida? Please follow this link to find the information on becoming an investigator in the State of Florida.
- How does a person qualify to be a Private Investigator in other states? Please follow this link to find the information on becoming a private investigator in other states that regulate and require licensing of investigators and agencies.