If you watch old reruns of Veronica Mars, your choice of private investigator seems pretty obvious. But, what about in the real world? Here’s what you need to look for to get hooked up with an investigator you can trust.
Make Sure They’re Licensed!
It sounds weird, but not all PIs are licensed. In some states, you don’t have to be licensed, or it’s easier to call yourself a private investigator without one. Don’t rely on the name and title hanging on the door. Research the person’s credentials.
In most states, this isn’t a problem, since most states require investigative experience and some of the stricter states require a minimum of 6,000 of field work in police, FBI, or as some other type of investigator.
Make Sure They Have Experience With Similar Cases
A licensed investigator isn’t enough. You also want one with experience. And, specifically, experience with the type of case you want to hire him or her for. What is their background? Do they have special technical skills that might be useful or helpful for you?
For example, usainvestigators.com retains some of the most experienced investigators in the country, with over 45,000 investigations under their belt since 1970. They take on corporate and private cases, and have experience with all types of crimes.
Make Sure They Have a Clean Record
Why wouldn’t an investigator have a clean record? There are many reasons, really. Most of these have to do with the PI going “to the dark side” or having complaints filed about conduct.
Make Sure They Have Good Character
What’s the impression you get from your investigator? Is the first concern money or your case? Hint: you want your needs to come first.
How does the investigator handle confidentiality? Some people have a legitimate worry that a PI might intentionally or unintentionally reveal who they are working for while on a case if they confront the target. You don’t want this if you’re trying to uncover the whereabouts of a deadbeat father, for example.
Make Sure They Will Testify In Court For You
Investigators who are former police and FBI know the system from the inside, and they know how to work within it. They’re not afraid to testify and can produce evidence at a trial. A rookie may not be able or willing to do this for you.
If your case ends up in a court room, you’re going to want a PI that can go with you and help you. To be a real expert, your PI needs to be able to testify, no questions asked.
Has a Real Office
If your PI works out of his or her home, and doesn’t have a real office, skip him or her. Look for a real office, with real phones and the type of office setting you would expect from a professional.
Make Sure The Fees Are Clear
Your PI doesn’t work for free. Make sure that the fees are clear and that you know what you are (and aren’t) getting for the money.
GUEST BLOGGER: Jared Stern is a renowned advisor on terrorism countermeasures, threat assessment and crisis response. He has been featured on many TV and radio shows. He is a respected consultant due to his commentary on terrorism, special warfare tactics and intelligence operations. Look for his articles on many crime and forensic sites.