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How to Choose a Private Investigator

May 24, 2014

How to Choose a Private Investigator

Is a motorist is suing  you for personal injuries and you want to make sure they’re not faking it. Do you suspect that your spouse/partner is not being faithful to you? Is there someone that you want to involve in your life but what do you really know about them?  How can you be sure they won’t defraud you?

Whatever the case, you may find yourself in a position to choose a private investigator.

Before beginning your search for the right Private Investigator, you must ignore the stereotype that movies and television have created for PI’s. Private Investigators do not spend their days having shootouts with criminals while speeding through the city in red sports cars. They generally work out of an office, and a telephone or computer is their weapon of choice.

A good Private Investigator can be useful in finding out the truth about a spouse/partner, locating a missing family member, finding a client who may have owed you money and skipped town, recovering deleted and/or damaged data from a computer hard-drive and a whole slew of other services.

What are the Steps to Hiring a Private Investigator?

If you have come to the realization that you cannot resolve the matter privately, and you are ready to ask for the assistance of a professional, here is a list of things to look for:

Experience

What type of educational background do they have? How long have they been a Private Investigator? Find out how many years they’ve been practicing and how many of their cases were similar to yours. How did things turn out with those cases? In what area is their specialty? Do they have technical skills, such as computer savvy? Are there areas in which they are inexperienced? Will this affect your needs?

Licensed

You must ensure that the Private Investigator you are planning on hiring is licensed to operate in Canada. The requirements to obtain such a license are usually quite rigorous and demand that the licensee has no criminal record. Private Investigators must also pass tests to gauge their qualifications and experience.

You can contact the licensing division of your Province to confirm that the Private Investigator you are considering are indeed licensed.

Good Character / Clean Record

If you are unsure, contact your local authorities to see if any complaints have been registered or disciplinary actions filed against the Private Investigator.

Trust your gut. What overall impression do you receive from this person? Can you trust him? What are his thoughts on confidentiality? Has this person shown an ethical nature, a sense of decency?

While private investigators are not officially held to an attorney-client privilege of confidentiality, a good private investigator will honour this. He will never surrender information and will keep everything shared between the two of you in confidence.

A good Private Investigator would never disclose his client’s name even when confronted by the person being investigated.. This protects you. If the surveillance fails, you at least haven’t suffered any repercussions because of it.

Can Testify In Court

Private Investigators with law enforcement experience know the system and how to work within it. They can produce evidence or other legal information that will hold up in court and are also prepared to testify in support of it. Make sure the Investigator you choose is prepared to come to court if the situation requires it. Also find out if he has ever testified in a similar case and if there is any reason that could prevent him from taking the witness stand.

Works Out Of An Office

You should not consider the services of a Private Investigator that conducts business only at coffee shops, over the phone or through email. Always attend a meeting at his office to ensure you’ll be able to find him again?

Knows Human Nature

Knowing how to question people, and how to strategize based on what you learn are effective, valuable investigation tools. A good “people sense” makes a Private Investigator more effective in gathering and relaying information.

Clearly Spells Out Fees

At the first meeting, explain what service you require and find out how much it will cost. He should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate and should never exceed this amount unless you are properly notified ahead of time.

The Initial Meeting

Treat the initial meeting like a job interview. Bring all relevant documents and information, and be prepared to summarize your needs. For example, if you want to have a surveillance conducted on your husband, you should provide an accurate description of him (bring a picture) and his car, as well as any significant addresses, such as his office, local hangouts, etc.

Because each case is different, ask if he has any experience with the type of investigation that you are hiring him for. For example, if you need to have a long lost relative located and the Private Investigator is an expert at surveillance, he may not be the right man for your particular case.

The initial consultation should be free, which should relieve the decision-making pressure. Ask any questions you feel are relevant. At any point, if you don’t feel comfortable with this person, excuse yourself and leave. As a good indicator of his ethics and proficiency level, ask about how the detective has gotten into this line of work. Also, don’t be taken aback if the detective asks you questions. He has to protect himself, and ensure that you’re not hiring him to do something illegal.

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