Mistakes to Avoid

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When Hiring a Private Investigator, Avoid These 10 Mistakes

Seeing the disastrous outcomes that my own clients have had from hiring the wrong private investigator (before they EJM, of course), combined with my own frustrating attempts to locate what appeared to be an effective P.I. in other areas of the country, I’ve decided to put together this quick guide that points out the most common errors to avoid when hiring a private investigator so you can avoid some of these mistakes yourself.

Mistake 1: Hiring a private investigator that is difficult to contact on the phone

The most common complaint I’ve heard from folks who have worked with other private investigators is that they are unable to contact their P.I. when they want to talk to them, and even worse, the P.I.‘s they’re utilising don’t answer phone calls promptly (or even answer at all!).

How the phone is answered when you initially contact the investigator—when you’re still hesitant about hiring him—might be a reliable sign of how your case will be handled. In this company, using voice mail at any level of interaction is a significant red flag. Another bad sign is answering services. When the person answering the phone is outsourced or works in a contact centre, they are most likely in another country.

In fact, numerous investigators will be available while they are attempting to get your case… However, once they have your money, the reachability test begins. This is generally where the true breakdown in communication happens.

Here are my suggestions for avoiding this error and ensuring that your investigator responds to your calls and communicates swiftly and effectively:

First and foremost, if you get a voicemail recording when you contact their office, go on to the next candidate. If they can’t answer the phone now, they won’t be answering it once they’ve received a retainer deposit.

If they do answer the phone, find out how they keep you updated on the status of your case. Inquire with the investigator about his or her availability, hours of availability, and maximum turnaround time for returning phone calls.

Mistake 2: Hiring a private investigator without first meeting in person with them

I understand that there are situations when meeting an investigator at their workplace is just not possible owing to time restrictions. And there are situations when the investigator you want to employ is in another county or country, and you just cannot meet with them in person.

Request to see the investigator in person at their office if at all feasible. At the very least, ensure that they are profitable enough to have an office and employees and that they are not operating their business out of their basement, spare bedroom, or a Starbucks or McDonald’s.

Begin by searching their website for an office address. This is commonly found at the footer of their website or on a “Contact Us” page. I highly advise moving on to the next applicant if their address is not given or is shown as a P.O. Box.

Meeting the individual in charge of your investigation in person will also allow you to gauge the investigator’s degree of honesty and professionalism. I’d search for another investigator if their office is disorganised or messy, or if you see evidence from other people’s cases out in the open. Furthermore, meeting them in person will give you a better notion of whether he or she truly understands your situation and whether they appear physically capable of doing the task.

Mistake 3: Hiring an investigator before viewing a sample of their work

The final product—the proof establishing or disproving your concerns that might wind up in court—will be the quality of a written report, images, and video. More importantly, the quality of any documents can substantially help (or greatly harm) your position before you even get to court. Superior documentation and real proof can even give you the power that makes going to court unnecessary in many circumstances.

A qualified investigator will generally include an example of their work on their website. If you don’t find anything like that on their website, ask to view a previous report they’ve finished and closed off, or some type of report, so you can see what their recorded outcomes look like. If applicable, ensure that the investigator embeds images with time and date stamps in their reports.

At the very least, examine the quality and organisation of their website. You can imagine what their work product will look like if it appears old, badly organised, or has poor language.

Mistake 4: Hiring a private investigator only on price

In most circumstances, cheap pricing is something to avoid, just as it is when choosing a lawyer to manage your divorce or a doctor to perform your open heart surgery. It typically signifies that the investigator does not have a reputation for producing findings, allowing him or her to command higher fees. The degree of professionalism in the private investigation sector varies greatly, and it is typically directly proportional to what you spend. Some investigators believe that marketing yourself as a “Budget PI” is the only way to gain work. There is generally a hidden cost associated with the term “cheap.”

Do you really want to risk paying so much for the issue for which you’re contemplating employing a private investigator? A low price may entice you to hire an investigator, but will the investigator have the skills and know-how to obtain results once he is on the case?

To avoid making this error, contact a few different investigators and find out how much they charge for the service you need. As previously said, ensure they have an office and, if feasible, visit them there to get a better sense of their degree of professionalism and capacity to get things done. Remember that your window of opportunity for acquiring what you want is generally small, and hiring the incorrect investigator might put you in an even worse predicament than you are now.

Mistake 5: Hiring a private investigator without first researching and verifying his or her background

Although I have worked with many extremely excellent private investigators who had no police force experience, a police based background is typically advantageous for a private investigator when it comes to concerns such as credibility and understanding how to think on your feet in difficult situations. The majority of police officers have extensive expertise dealing with and in the courts. On the other hand, just because you’re a former federal agent who spent the majority of your career doing long-running white collar investigations doesn’t guarantee you know how to get to the bottom of a cheating spouse, child custody, or theft inquiry swiftly and efficiently.

The majority of police officers have extensive expertise dealing with and in the courts.

On any investigator’s website, look for an “About Us” page. Frequently, the investigator will not even publish the identity of the investigation company’s owner on their website. This is just another major bad sign. If you locate their name, Google it as a general and “News” search. Check out their LinkedIn profile to see how long they’ve been in business and where else they’ve worked. Whether you look up their name on Facebook, you can typically tell whether they are at least a regular person and that they are who they claim they are.

Mistake 6: Hiring a private investigator without a money-back guarantee

Every private investigative firm, in my opinion, should be totally accountable for its job. If you aren’t completely satisfied with the job, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Only a few investigators provide a guarantee. Inquire with the investigator whether he provides a money-back guarantee. If he does not, it suggests that he lacks the trust in his company to stand behind his job.

Mistake 7: Choosing a private investigator without first reading testimonials from previous customers

Any private investigator may state whatever he wants about his previous work. Unfortunately, some of what he claims may be false. Make sure you ask for references or read feedback from previous clients so you can trust the investigator and his job. Look for authentic testimonial reviews that include first and last names, as it has recently become somewhat of a scam with people producing their own internet “reviews.”

MISTAKE #8: Hiring a private investigator who is a “jack of all trades”

If the private investigator does not specialise in what you’re attempting to accomplish or does not have investigators on staff that specialise in the sort of scenario you’re dealing with, you may want to consider moving on. You don’t want someone who is good at evaluating spreadsheets and identifying fraud to look for a covert listening device, camera, or bug. In most circumstances, it just will not work out. At the same time, you don’t want the undercover investigator who has a penchant for getting things done to try to recover “deleted” data from a mobile phone or computer hard drive.

Investigators with several areas of expertise are rarely, if ever, found in the same package.

Some bigger and more established investigation firms have multiple investigators on staff that specialise in various sorts of investigations, but most private investigators would often try to obtain the job and then outsource or subcontract it to someone who can perform it. Many one-man shops may attempt to complete the task alone, even if they are ill-equipped and lack the necessary skills and expertise.

Inquire with the investigator whether they specialise in the sort of job you’re looking to have done or if they have someone on staff who does. If you want something very technical done, such as computer/cell phone forensics or a bug sweep, be sure the investigator is certified in these disciplines, since I’ve seen the fallout from more than a few charlatans and hacks who did little more than put up a nice show.

MISTAKE 9: Hiring a private investigator who subcontracts the assignment to another investigator

This is frequently hidden by terms like “partners” or “part of our network.” There are private investigators who make a living by subcontracting investigations, merely receiving calls, accepting cases, and then racing to find someone else, anybody else, even someone they’ve never worked with before, to complete the task.

The main issue with this strategy is that when you engage someone to “subbing out” the job, you lose complete control over who is handling the case, how much expertise they have, what their qualifications or reputation are, and what type of outcomes they are known to produce.

Again, looking for a local address on the investigator’s website, as well as a local phone number, should ensure you’re dealing with an investigator who will be handling the work themselves, rather than a “general contractor” who is subcontracting the work and paying a low rate to someone who lacks the experience, reputation, and expertise to earn premium rates on their own.

If you are concerned that the task is being subcontracted, just ask the investigator if they are doing the investigation themselves. If they stumble over the response or dance around it, thank them for their time and go on.

MISTAKE 10: Delaying hiring an investigator for an inordinately lengthy period of time

In many circumstances, the window of opportunity for successfully capturing and documenting what is happening is narrow. Either your target gets aware of your suspicions and goes deeper underground, or their methods alter. The most significant advantage of doing an inquiry is generally the peace of mind, confidence, and clarity that come with knowing the facts with certainty. The capacity to proceed while basing judgements on actual facts rather than conjecture and emotion provides peace of mind and a sense of control.

Think about it… What is your problem costing you—financially, emotionally, and physically—to put it off? Don’t just consider the negative consequences of a course of action. It is also critical to calculate the exorbitant cost of inactivity. Where will you be in a year, five years, and 10 years if you don’t take action? How will you feel about allowing circumstance to impose itself on you and wasting 10 more years of your short life living in a way that you know would not complete you? Inaction is the greatest danger of all if you project out 10 years and know with 100% confidence that it will be a road of disappointment and regret.

If you’re thinking about hiring a private investigator because of a problem that’s keeping you awake at night, and if you’re still reading this and avoiding most of these problems makes sense to you, you should give our office a call. If you’d like to discuss your problem over the phone, we can do so (of course, all talks are totally confidential). If you find any benefit in it, we may meet in person at one of our locations to discuss how to fix the issue.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by iCONQUER Ltd .

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