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How to Hire a Private Investigator: A Step-By-Step Guide

Are you looking to hire a private investigator but uncertain of what to look for?

There are some people who call themselves a “private investigator” who don’t quite have the experience. But you don’t want to hire just anyone.

Let’s look at what you should look out for before you hire a private investigator to handle your case.

Hire a Private Investigator Who’s Licensed

When you’re looking to hire a private investigator, don’t go by title alone. In some states, there are few to no requirements for calling oneself a private investigator, so you want to narrow down your search to those that are truly qualified. 

Most states require any person looking to work as a PI to have some investigative experience, though the amount of experience will vary based on education.

The strictest regions require about 6,000 hours of work in the field which can include working with the police, FBI, or other investigators. Background tests, fingerprint investigations, and a state-administered test are also required in strict states. 

To learn more about what your area requires of those looking to use the title of “private investigator”, contact your local Department of Consumer Rights and ask to be directed to the licensing division. There you can ask about your specific requirements and have them look up the P.I. or P.I.’s you’re considering to see which are licensed. 

Find Someone Experienced

To narrow down your search for the perfect P.I., you want to consider what kind of education and experience a potential hire possesses. Take a look at each candidate’s educational background. Have they worked in law enforcement in the past? Do they have past experience as a private investigator? Are they savvy with computers and do they possess the necessary technical skills that will lead them to useful information?

You also want to check into their speciality to see where they are most experienced and if their expertise aligns with the help you require. 

Be aware of any areas where experience is lacking. Perhaps a candidate has no experience with polygraphs or computer security issues for example. Decide if this lacking will affect your needs as a client. 

It’s also important to find out how many years an investigator has been practising and if any of their former cases were similar to yours. Were the results of those cases favourable?

Character Counts

When you first meet up with a private investigator to see if they’d be a good fit, get a feel for their character as best as you’re able.

Do they seem trustworthy and dependable? Do they go about their business in an ethical and decent manner? Do they speak to you respectfully? Do they seem mostly driven by money or can you tell that their drive includes a desire to be of service to you?

And though private investigators aren’t held to any oath of confidentiality, the best UK private investigators will make an effort to honour your privacy. 

There are some clients who fear that their identity will be revealed should their PI be confronted by someone during an investigation. A trustworthy PI will never disclose the name of his or her client. 

Do They Possess the Skills to Testify in Court?

Generally speaking, anyone with a background in law enforcement will have at least a basic understanding of the court system. You want to hire an investigator who is adept at producing evidence and other important legal materials that will be relevant in court. They should also be prepared to testify in support of their claims. 

As a client, you want to make sure that the investigator you choose has a background that reflects their ability to hold their own in a courtroom setting. 

If your case ends up in court, a PI that has experience presenting crucial information will more likely lead to results in your favour. 

Are They Savvy About Human Nature?

The most successful PIs understand how to interact with people, how to strategize them, question them, and anticipate their moves.

Of course, computer skills are crucial, maybe even more so than people skills, when it comes to hunting down information. But finding an investigator who can effectively deal with those he’s investigating is an added bonus. 

Do They Work Out of an Actual Office?

If the private investigator you’re considering only conducts business out of a nearby coffee shop, or over the phone, steer clear. It can be difficult to find your agent after you’ve paid them if you don’t know where to find them. 

An agent with an organized office is one who takes their job seriously and having a place of business shows that their work is more than a mere hobby. 

Are You Treated Respectfully as the Client?

Before you hire a private investigator, you should make sure you feel comfortable working with them.

Look for someone who treats your case with sensitivity, someone who uses eye contact when speaking with you, who listens well to your concerns and happily answers your questions. 

There’s no need to hire someone who is condescending or patronizing or who makes you feel like a nuisance. 

Find Other Useful Information

Now that you know a little bit more about how to go about how to hire a private investigator, take the time to browse through our other useful articles that will guide you in living your best life.

Whether you’re looking for self-improvement tips, insight into the latest technology, or unbiased relationship advice, we’ve got you covered! 

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