1. Are you a licensed Private Investigator & Private Investigation Agency in this state?
Private Investigation agencies are required to have a license in most, but not all states. To be sure ask to see their agency license and personal license then write down the number. You can then search the license numbers on the Division of Licensing webpage for your State.
2. Does you Agency carry Insurance?
Ask to see their insurance policy and how much they are insured for.
3. How long have you been a Private Investigator?
Experience is a must have in this field. Ask them about their experience.
4. What is your background and experience?
What service can they offer you? Have they dealt with similar investigations before? Do they specialise in cases such as yours? What do they plan to do?
5. Where is your office located?
Ask where the Agency office is located so you can go there if you need to. Remember, if the investigator is a one-man business they will probably work from home and will not want to offer that personal information to protect themselves, or their family. So don’t be put off by that. This is very common and nothing to be worried about as long as they are license and insured!
6. Can you provide work references?
Ask the private investigator for references so you know what kind go work ethic they have and how their relationship is with the community.
7. How do you ensure my confidentiality?
Private Investigators are help by law to keep your information confidential. Although, there could be special situations where the investigator is bound by law to reveal details of your case, such as a judge or court instruction.
8. Will the person I am investigating find out or be notified?
When you hire a private investigator they are acting under your instruction and if you don’t want the person to know they are under investigation the private investigator you’ve hired will try and keep it as low-key as possible. Depending on what you hire the investigator for will determine if the person being investigated needs be notified or not. If you are getting a private investigator background check on an employee, then the employee will need to be notified.
9. How will we contact each other during the investigation?
This is important particularly if you live or work in close proximity to the person under investigation and don’t want to alert them to the investigation.
10. How will I be updated on my case?
It may be a daily email report, telephone call, or a weekly report if the case is large and complex. Decide how and in what form you want to be kept up-to-date and ask the investigator if they can provide this.
11. Will they provide a detailed report?
Most private investigators will provide a detailed final case report. Ask them what case reports you will receive, particularly the final report. Also ask about photographic evidence (if applicable) to go along with the report. You will need all of this, particularly if you involve a lawyer or intend court action.
12. Do you use illegal or unethical means of investigating or obtaining information?
This question has to be asked, if anything, to protect yourself. Most investigators are decent but there are a few bad apples.
13. Are you willing to be a witness in court if needed?
Private investigators are generally expected to be appear in court hearings as professional witnesses. But not all agree on this so ask don't assume.
14. What happens if you or the assigned investigator gets "found out"?
Ask the investigator what his Standard Operating Procedures are if they get caught out investigating the person under investigation. Do they have a back-up story? Do they cease surveillance? What’s their back-up plan? How do they protect your anonymity?
15. Do you have a contract or agreement form?
Ask for a copy and if you can amend it if you are not happy with certain conditions. Most private investigator contracts will have certain conditions that remain fixed that you will have to agree to. But there should also be a section in the contract that is personalised for you and your case, as no two cases are exactly the same. You will only sign an agreement form once the costs and terms have been settled and are entered into the contact.
16. How much do you cost?
This is another big question to ask a private investigator you want to hire. Get a clear idea of the prices, costs and expenses involved and make sure to ask the investigator that this is clearly set out in your agreement or contract before you hire them. Also ask if they require a money up front (retainer) because most investigators do.
17. Can you guarantee the result I want?
One thing that should be highlighted here, which is most important, and which may sting you a little, is that no private investigator cannot guarantee you the result you require or want.
A private investigator is hired to find out the truth of something regardless of what you think, feel or expect. If you suspect your partner is cheating but in truth they are not, then that is the truth. If you hire a private investigator to find out who in your company is stealing but actually no one is, well that is the truth.
What you want or expect as a result in your investigation is not always what you are going to get or read in your reports. A private investigator cannot guarantee the results you want. The investigator can only guarantee they do a thorough job; the outcome is another story.