WHY HIRE A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR?
A private investigator can be used for all kinds of investigations. If you want more information than you can track down on your own, hiring a private investigator can be beneficial. Private investigators have the education, training, and experience to do what they do. They have access to databases that you do not and their contacts can be beneficial in more difficult searches. Private investigators utilize more than a Google search. They know how to manipulate Internet searches and delve into the deep web. They are experienced at surveilling people and savvy in their interview techniques. Private investigators are professionals who make a living at seeking, organizing, analyzing, and deciphering information. They are also licensed, insured, and familiar with the legalities of investigations. (*Note: There are a few states that do not require private investigators to be licensed). The following are a few examples of people/businesses/attorneys with varying reasons for hiring a PI:
- Locate witness or client
- Interview witness
- Process service
- Accident reconstruction
- Locate missing person
- Gather evidence on cheating spouse
- Child custody
- Identity theft
- Background check on job candidate
- Suspected employee fraud
- Stolen property unreported to police
- Workers compensation fraud
WHAT CAN A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR DO THAT I CANNOT DO MYSELF?
In today's information age and access to the Internet, many people wrongly think that just because they have an inquisitive mind and enjoy a good mystery novel or crime show, they would make a good private investigator. Although an inquisitive mind is a good start and mystery novels and crime shows can be riveting for us all, the skill set required of the private investigator is vast. It's perfectly all right to dive as deeply as you can into your own private mystery. And you may just find the answers you were looking for. But if you don't have the time or resources, or just can't seem to find success on your own, it might be time to call on a private investigator. Private investigators have access to databases that are unavailable to the public. They also have experience and contacts that you likely don’t have yourself as the average citizen. Per most state requirements, private investigators are also licensed and insured, which means they stay current on privacy and other pertinent laws.
WHAT KIND OF INVESTIGATOR DO I NEED?
Choose a private investigator who specializes in your need or has a strong background in that area. Be skeptical of those who claim to “do it all.” ALWAYS check your state for licensure requirements and be sure the private investigator you are contacting possesses a current license and insurance when required.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR?
Choose a private investigator who is licensed in the state(s) they practice, but be mindful that not all states require a license. Missouri and Kansas DO require a license to practice. Also make sure the private investigator is insured. This is a requirement for licensed investigators in the states of Missouri and Kansas. Additionally, check out their background, training, experience, and professional organizations to which they belong. On a more personal note, find an investigator you like. Don't let him or her push you around or tell you what to do. You are the client. You are in charge. The PI works for you. So it's important to find someone you trust and feel comfortable with after speaking with them.
WHAT SHOULD MY EXPECTATIONS BE IN HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR?
Expect professionalism. Every case is different and results vary greatly. Even the best investigators come up empty-handed sometimes, so if you find an investigator who guarantees results, be skeptical. If you give an investigator clear instructions on your expectations, he or she should give you an estimation on time, expense, and likelihood of success. The investigator should also keep you apprised of the status of your investigation regularly. They should always, always get approval by you before taking additional steps or adding work to the original agreement, thus adding expenses to your bill. Most investigators require a substantial retainer before they will even begin. Make sure you understand the fee and expense structure before signing a contract. If a private investigator does not require you to sign a contract, I would find a different private investigator.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE COST FOR HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR?
Hourly fees typically range from $50 to $250 per hour, depending on location and type of service requested. Specialty services are more expensive than general services, just like any other industry. Flat fees are sometimes used instead of hourly rates for services such as conducting a background check, digging up a phone number, or obtaining a license plate number. Mileage and actual expenses are also charged if travel is involved. Be educated that you get what you pay for. If you choose a private investigator solely based on their cheap price, chances are great that the results they produce, if any, will not be as reliable or complete had you chosen a PI who charged more. Also worthy of mention, a "cheap" PI might take ten hours to complete the same work a more expensive PI would complete in five. (Cheap PI charges $50 per hour. Cheap PI works ten hours on your case. You owe $500... More expensive PI charges $100 per hour and works five hours on your case. You owe $500). It is also very prudent for you to ask yourself before you start the process, "How much money am I willing to invest to obtain the information I want?" Know your limits. Know your budget.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN HIRING A LARGE FIRM AND HIRING AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR?
Hiring an independent investigator is typically more cost effective than hiring a large firm. An independent investigator can usually provide a faster and more personal service as well. An investigator at a large firm often delegates pieces of an investigation out to other investigators, sometimes even an entire case. A large firm does likely provide a much broader array of services, but if the client knows what they need, they can find an independent investigator who specializes in that area. If your need is strictly local (i.e.-surveillance), finding an independent investigator in your town or city can be beneficial because he or she likely knows the area better than if you hire someone from a large out-of-town firm.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE FREE CONSULTATION AT NEW HOPE INVESTIGATIONS?
A free consultation at New Hope Investigations is simply a chance for investigator and client to acquaint themselves with one another. The client should ask questions and provide the details of the investigation to the investigator. The investigator will ask several follow-up questions, based on the information provided by the client. Pricing and further details will be discussed. The client does not have to decide right away whether or not they want to proceed. This is just an initial work-up in which the client is free to ask numerous questions, determine their expectations, and decide if they want to proceed any further. This is also a chance for the investigator to determine if the case will be accepted. An investigator might choose to refer a client to a different investigator based upon expertise, time, resources, etc.
HOW DOES THE RETAINER FEE WORK AT NEW HOPE INVESTIGATIONS?
New Hope Investigations requires a retainer fee at the start of every case. This fee acts as a cash pool from which the investigator works. If/when the retainer runs out, the case is reassessed between investigator and client to determine course of action. If the investigation commences before the retainer amount is used up, the remaining money will be refunded to the client.
HOW WILL I BE BILLED THROUGH NEW HOPE INVESTIGATIONS?
An invoice is either emailed or mailed to the client. The client can choose to pay via credit card over the phone or electronically via the invoice emailed to them. Certified check payment can be mailed to New Hope Investigations at P.O. Box 266 Saginaw, Missouri 64864.