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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Private Investigator

December 27, 2018

PI Photographing With SLR CameraWhen you need the services of a private investigator, you may be in a vulnerable position. Picking up the phone and speaking directly with a firm can be exceptionally intimidating, especially if you’re unsure of what questions to ask. Of course, choosing the right PI can make a huge difference in the outcome of a court case, work, or personal matter. To help you make the right choice, experts at Maryland Security Professionals have put together a helpful and informative list of essential inquiries to bring up during your initial phone call, email exchange or face-to-face meeting.

Here are five important questions to ask before you hire a PI:

Do You Have a License?

In all but five states (Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and Wyoming, in case you were wondering), private investigators are legally required to be licensed. If you’re looking to hire a private investigator in the Mid-Atlantic region, they should be able to provide you with a license number. This is the number one way to ensure that your PI is legit. Check with your state to verify their license if you have any doubts. Information gathered by an unlicensed investigator won’t be admissible in court, and may hurt your credibility.

What Type of Cases Do You Handle?

From divorce law, to workplace misconduct, background checks, missing persons cases, and numerous other personal and legal matters, there are many reasons to seek the services of a professional PI. It’s important to make sure your PI specializes in the right field. Be upfront about your situation and what you hope to discover, and your detective can give you a clear description of their methods and the kind of results you can expect.

How Much Experience Do You Have?

Everybody, even talented PIs, need to start somewhere, but generally, it’s best to choose the private detective with the most experience. Make sure to ask how long a firm or individual has been in business. It’s also acceptable to ask for references from past clients. It’s imperative that you have 100% confidence in the investigator you choose to work with.

Who Will Handle My Case?

This is an important question for people who choose to work with larger security firms. Your contact person may be an office worker who then relays information to your PI in the field. Reputable businesses will offer transparency in this regard. It shouldn’t be an issue to get the name and license number of the private investigator working on your case. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking questions. Trust between professional and client is key to a successful investigation.

How Do You Get Paid?

Discussing money matters can be awkward with any professional, but it’s imperative to be on the same page from the start. Some firms offer routine jobs (like background checks) for a set rate. For many other assignments you’ll most likely be charged an hourly rate, depending on how difficult the task is, and how much travel is involved. It’s common for a PI to ask for a retainer upfront, and to bill the client for out-of-pocket expenses while on the job.

Ask Maryland Security Professionals!

Maryland Security Professionals is standing by to answer these and any other questions you have about the private investigation services we offer. Please call us for a free consultation and quote. We look forward to putting our experienced team and abundant resources to work for you.

Additional Resources:

  1., Private Investigator Licenses by State,
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