In which states can you conduct investigations?
Due to reciprocity laws, we can conduct investigations in many states.
Why do you charge that amount?
What we charge depends on many factors. Location, experience, difficulty of the investigation, number of investigators assigned, etc. Often times, all we have to sell is our knowledge and our time.
Think for a moment about what some other service industries charge. Plumbers, mechanics, doctors, TV repair guys. Now think of this… our work product may very well solve your case, keep you out of jail, find your key witness, catch your spouse cheating, or even save your life. Do you really want to go bargain shopping for that type of service?
Some PI firms invest thousands of dollars each year on equipment, training, and databases so that they can offer you the best service possible. Always feel free to call around and get price quotes from other agencies. Just make sure they are offering a comparable service. Make sure that they aren’t just going to contract it out to another firm, and mark it up.
Check for a PI license, and don’t be afraid to ask who will actually be doing the investigation. Just because you meet with the owner, who has decades of experience, doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be doing the surveillance, etc. Make sure that the person actually doing it has more than just a few weeks of training.
Can you trace an e-mail back to the original
- Yes. This is very time consuming and will almost always cost a fee.
Can you get non-published phone numbers
Yes. PI’s use databases and other sources to find these. Usually they will not just give it out to you if you ask. Many times ex’s and psycho stalkers want to find a person’s unlisted address to do harm. There has been at least one high profile murder (of a T.V. star) that occurred because a PI gave out an unlisted address to a psychopath stalker. Because of this, more and more laws are passed which restrict the flow of data to our profession. That means we have to charge you more.
Can you get toll calls and long distance records?
- Yes, this is possible, and is not something you will find on the internet for free. Also be advised that with the passing of new privacy laws, this can be construed as Theft of Proprietary Data.
Can I get NCIC info?
- No. NCIC is for law enforcement agencies only. While we USED to have access, government agencies have taken this valuable tool away from all of us.
Where can I find “this” information for free?
Think about this question. This is basically saying, “I don’t want to hire you, but will you tell me how to get the information you sell for free?”
It’s like the old saying: The TV repairman comes to your house to fix the TV. He looks at it, takes out his screwdriver and tightens one screw on the back of the TV. He hands you a bill for $100. Of course you ask, “Why $100? It only took you 5 seconds to turn that screw!” He replies, “Yes. But you didn’t pay me to turn the screw……you paid me to know WHICH screw to turn.”
Some PI’s will post links to various search engines and databases on their sites. Normally, anything found on the internet is outdated (as far as free databases), and should always be verified through other sources.
Should I buy the superduper-internet-spy-on-
my-neighbor- and-anyone-else-you- want-to-
secret-disc for $19.99?
Usually, these are nothing more then a list of internet sites or someone’s bookmarks. Some of the sites listed will be shut down before you even receive the disc. Others are for licensed end users only. Some are worthless. Some are good. That being said, it’s your choice. Most can be found using a search engine, but the disc saves time. There are also books with the same information in them. I for one don’t mind paying $20 for a book or something, if it has at least 2 good sources of information I didn’t have before. That is just my opinion.
Where can I find books on being a PI?
Go to your local library or try any of the online book companies such as Amazon.
- Can you locate this person for me?
Yes, but we will usually contact that person first and make sure it is ok to give out their location. Why do we do this? Liability, plain and simple. We have identified and verified child pornographers, credit card thieves, stalkers, disgruntled workers, and violent ex’s who have asked for help in the past. There are some circumstances where the person is not contacted first, but those are determined on a case by case basis.
How do I become a private investigator?
Most states will require you to be licensed to perform investigations and also become an information broker. Check with your state before offering services. Failure to comply can result in stiff fines and even jail time. I guarantee that if a local PI finds out you are practicing without a license, you will probably find yourself the unwitting participant in a sting operation. In some states this is done by the State Police. Always ask the PI you are considering hiring if they are licensed. If they are not, chances are they have no insurance, their work product cannot be used in court, and may have been obtained illegally. For employment opportunities, 706-563-3573.
- Do I have to be licensed to sell public information that can be found for free at the courthouse?
Usually yes. Check with your state.
How can I tell if a PI is licensed?
Ask him/her or call the state board and ask them to verify if that company/person is licensed. This is a good idea whenever you are thinking about hiring a PI. Check to see if they are licensed and if so, are there any complaints lodged against them. You can also call your local Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that some states do not require licensing and there are many, many good investigators in those states. Don’t be afraid to ask how long they have been in business, what their qualifications are, and even for references. They should be more than happy to supply you with this information.
Should I pick an investigator who is a member
in many organizations?
That depends on you. Some organizations have very strict application procedures and testing, while others simply require a fee. I wouldn’t base your choice on that aspect alone. Just as there are diploma mills for college degrees, there are diploma mills for this profession too. Some companies will award you with a “Certified Expert Certificate”, just from buying their book on a certain subject. There are also internet sites where you can order PI credentials and certificates, and even become an ordained minister who used to work for the KGB, for the low, low price of $19.95.
What do those letters mean after an investigator’s
Nothing. Those letters are all made up to make the investigator look and feel good. To date, there are no national certifications recognized by any state.
How should I go about choosing an investigator?
Ask around for references. Most good investigators rely solely on referrals while a lot of fly-by-night operations can be found in the phone book. There are investigative referral companies and organizations such as PI-International.
Can I get on online mailing lists?
Yes. Go to www.yahoogroups.com and search through the different mailing lists that suit your needs. There are plenty of them. There are also lists restricted to licensed PI’s only. Ask around. If you subscribed to every investigation list you would get about 300 emails a day. Keep in mind that most of them are just filled with PI’s looking for work.
Can you tap my
phone? Can you sell me a “bug”?
Depends on the state you are in and the circumstances surrounding. Most likely no. Some states will let you tape calls if one person in the conversation knows about the recording. This is referred to as a “one party state”. Better to check with your attorney and be sure to get his advice in writing. Under most circumstances selling a “bugging device” is illegal.
Where can I buy debugging devices, I think my
phone may be tapped?
Most of what you
will find being sold on the internet is considered junk by the people
who really know this area. A true “debugging device” can cost
upwards of $10,000. Just owning a device does not guarantee that the
person is qualified to operate it correctly. There are schools that
teach nothing but the operation of certain pieces of equipment. A large
percentage of companies who offer Debugging will perform a “Dog and
Pony Show” for you when they arrive, while using a $50 piece of
equipment they bought from an internet spy shop. Buyer Beware.
I’ve tried to do the investigation myself. Can you
help me now?
Keep in mind that if
you try to do the investigation yourself, you stand a very good chance
of botching it. Once the SUBJECT knows he/she is under investigation,
you can usually give it up. It is usually better to invest the money
with a reputable PI and have it done right the first time. Besides, a
judge will be more likely to believe the evidence produced by a
disinterested 3rd party, than someone directly related to the subject of
Can I get a copy of someone’s credit report?
“Permissible Purposes”, as defined by the Federal Trade
Commission is this allowed. That means a signed release from the Subject
or under a few other circumstances.
Can you find anyone, anywhere, anytime?
No. No one can. Be
realistic. Some PI’s are very good, but no one can find anyone,
anywhere, anytime. This is just a marketing scheme. If they are making
that promise, get it in writing that if they don’t find them, you don’t
pay (No Find, No Fee). Which brings me to my next topic…
I want to hire an
investigator, but I don’t
want to pay unless successful. Is that ok?
Usually no. Most of
us work on retainers. That means you pay up front for any services. We
do this just like attorneys. Too many times we have done the work only
to have the client cancel just before the finished report is submitted,
or simply decide that they don’t want to pay after they receive the
finished product. Most of the searches we perform cost us money, (and
not to mention our time). How many places can you order something and
just say, “Send me the bill later.” Not to many I’d guess.
Can you use the nanny
Some of us have that capability. Ask. Some sell the equipment, and some rent it. If you set something like that up in your home, consult with an attorney. If you forget and leave the microphone on (recording sound), that may be a felony in many states.
Are the mail order PI classes any good?
Will they help me to get licensed?
Check with your
state. Some of them have no bearing on whether or not you get licensed.
They are for training/information purposes only. Check with your local
licensing authority to see if they qualify.
Do PI’s carry guns? Can they be bodyguards?
Some do. Depends on
the state, and depends on the person. Most states require special
licensing for bodyguard work. Make sure you ask them if they are
licensed to offer that service.
Can a PI do things
the ordinary citizen can’t?
That will depend on
the State in which you are licensed. Normally a PI is just an ordinary
citizen who has been licensed to conduct “Private
Investigations”. Usually we can access databases that the general
Can you guarantee results?
We cannot guarantee
results. We can only guarantee that the necessary information,
documentation, etc. will be searched for diligently, legally,
expediently, and as economically as possible.
Will you lose the Subject on surveillance?
If surveillance is
necessary we feel obligated to inform you of the “real life
caveats.” Surveillance, especially moving surveillance, is a hit
and miss science. We can perform these observations under agreed upon
time and location parameters but cannot promise activity on behalf of
Similarly, moving surveillance carries with it inherent
obstacles such as the unpredictable nature of traffic. There is no
guarantee that contact with the subject can be maintained as we cannot
predict traffic flow, traffic conditions, weather, or other unforeseen
problems. We are bound to follow all laws, including traffic laws.
Similarly, privacy and private property laws will dictate the conduct of