It could be that you suspect your partner is having an affair, maybe you suspect an employee is stealing from you, or perhaps you’re unsure if somebody is submitting a fraudulent insurance claim. If this sounds like you, you may want to consider hiring a private investigator.
When it comes to hiring a private investigator, you have to remember that almost anyone can become a PI. It’s a common misconception that PI’s are usually –if not always- former law enforcement officers. This is not true. Qualifying to become a PI can be done in a few days for around £1000, this means that the industry can be fraught with ‘cowboys’ looking to make an easy buck.
To avoid the pitfalls when hiring a PI, it’s important to check that the PI firm you are using has a demonstrable track record in achieving successful results for their clients, like Eclipse Legal Services. Although the world of private investigation appears by some to be somewhat shady, the truth is that PI firms must be legitimate, fully government accredited, regulated, discreet and ethical. You can easily check on a government website to make sure the firm you are using is legitimate.
Private Investigators are paid to approach sensitive matters -such as infidelity, insurance fraud, corporate espionage, business affairs, child custody, missing persons, and counter surveillance- with discretion, respect and professionalism. They must operate within the law, and they must keep the information they find private.
The cost of hiring a private investigator varies depending on the type of information you are looking for. Typically, private investigators are paid by the hour, and you may be paying anything from $80-150 per hour for their services. This may be hire if you require a private investigator with particular skills or training, such as forensics.
Sometimes, you may be able to come to an arrangement with a firm on pricing; for example, if you’re looking to track down a missing person, they may charge $400 to search, and an additional $400 if they are successful. Good private investigators are motivated to achieve the desired results and provide accurate information to their clients, not just for the ‘success fee’, but also to bolster their reputation as a competent and thorough private investigator.
The channels through which private investigators can obtain information must always be legal. With the rise in popularity of the internet and social media, you’ll be amazed at how much information is available online. Private detectives can search many different databases that are freely available to the public, and draw up some incredible results. What they cannot access however, is police databases, bank account details, and other restricted information.
Contrary to what may be represented in the media, gone are the days when a private investigator could call in a favour from his buddy in the police. Unless it has been made public, there is no way that a private investigator can access police records, and if they did so, they’d be breaking the law by divulging that information.
What you’re essentially paying for is somebody who is very well versed at gathering information, will take the time to legally follow and keep an eye on somebody, and will collect the information you need. Private Investigators will record a person’s actions using High-Definition film (not photographs), and will use this information to provide evidence of –or against- what you suspect.
Mostly, private investigators are used to investigate insurance claims. This means that if you’ve ever placed a claim against an employer for an accident, there’s a good chance you’ve had a private investigator following you to make sure that broken leg is genuine (a high definition video of you taking your morning jog would probably call that injury into question).
As private investigators technically don’t have any powers that a normal person does not have, there is no reason to suggest that you couldn’t do the same job yourself (provided you do not break any laws or trespass). However, what you’re really paying for with a PI is an expert in gathering information, somebody who is going to diligently put the time in to finding out as much information, and gathering as much evidence as possible for you.