Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator


  • Always use a licensed investigator. Using an unlicensed investigator can jeopardize your case and expose you to liability. Most licenses can be verified on-line through State licensing authorities. You can also ask the investigator or investigative agency to produce a copy of their license(s).

  • Be cautious in hiring an investigator who is a braggart, or who is flamboyant, flashy, pushy, over persistent, or who makes exaggerated claims about their background or experience.  These types of investigators are simply trying to impress the client(s) and “close the deal”.  Often these types of investigators have questionable backgrounds and poor business ethics.  In attempt to impress you, these types of investigators will often "name drop" or tell you "war stories" of the celebraties, dignitaries, or other high profile people they allegedly have worked for.

  • The days are over for hiring the investigator often portrayed in television shows. Hiring investigators who operate as a “lone wolf”, or that are rogue, or who operate on the fringe of the legal system (or operate illegally) will only jeopardize your case and expose you to civil liability and criminal prosecution.  Car chases, disguises, fist fights, and gunplay make for good entertainment on TV or at the movies.  But the real work of any professional private investigator involves carfully listening to the client, meticulous planning, and a commitment to excellence in conducting every investigation.

  • Remember you get what you pay for. Pricing is important, but don’t let pricing be the determining factor in hiring a private investigator or private investigative agency. Unlicensed, inexperienced, or unprofessional investigators / agencies often do discounted or “bargain” priced work.

  • Does the investigator have the capacity to handle your case?  An investigator or investigative agency should have the available support, and support staff, to properly handle your case. Investigative agencies usually have multiple investigators, clerical staff, and other back office support which allows them to handle complex or large cases.

  • An investigator or investigative agency should not make any promises on the outcome of your case.  

  • Know exactly what you’re paying for.  Most investigators or investigative agencies have an hourly rate. In most cases, mileage fees and other expenses will also apply.   Additionally, most investigators or investigative agencies will require a retainer when dealing with an individual. Attorneys, insurance companies, and corporations are often billed for services rendered.

  • Hourly rates vary throughout the United States for investigators. In the Midwest for example, prices range between $ 85.00 - $ 125.00 per hour for an experienced / professional investigator.   Investigative rates on the east and west coasts are often significantly more.

  • In many cases, the investigator or investigative agency will require a contract.

  • Eliminate your exposure to civil liability and criminal prosecution. Don’t use investigators or investigative agencies that are willing to break the law while working your case.