Each year, over 40 million lawsuits get filed. These lawsuits can happen for many reasons, but they all have one thing in common: they need solid information to back up the claims.

Without evidence, you won’t be able to file a successful lawsuit. But if you’re trying to uncover information on your own, you probably feel you’re in over your head.

Hiring a private investigator is a great way to get the information you need. So, where do you start? Here are a few simple tips to help you find the right investigator for your needs.

1. Ask for Recommendationsa

If you’re considering hiring a private investigator, it’s always best to ask the people you know for recommendations. If you’re comfortable discussing the details with your friends, family, or a few trusted coworkers, ask for recommendations.

Even if they don’t know of a private investigator first-hand, they may know someone who hired one in the past.

If you’re not comfortable discussing the situation with the people you know, start your search online or ask your attorney for recommendations. No matter which route you take, make sure you check their reputations. The Better Business Bureau is a great way to see if anyone had issues with their services in the past.

2. Meet with the Investigator

Once you have a list of names, take the time to schedule consultations with at least a few of them. This will give you a chance to get to know the investigator and figure out if you’re comfortable working with them.

These meetings can happen either on the phone or in person, whichever you’re most comfortable with. Most investigators offer free consultations. Use this to your advantage and speak with several before you narrow your search down.

This will allow you to compare their prices, their services, and make sure their personalities mesh with your needs.

Pay Attention to What They Ask You

During that consultation, pay attention to the questions they’re asking you. This may feel like an interview of sorts—they’re trying to understand your situation and the only way to do that is to ask you questions.

If an investigator doesn’t seem interested or isn’t asking questions at all, walk away. If they can’t show interest in your case, they’re not worth working with.

3. Ask for References

After the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask for references. A reputable private investigator will have a list of clients they’ve worked with who will talk about their experience.

Once you have that list, follow up with the references. Ask each person if they’re happy with the investigator’s services and ask if they had any concerns about their abilities or their integrity.

Pay attention to any complaints you might hear. Remember, every case is different and every reference will have a different experience.

But if you hear similar complaints or issues from multiple references, proceed with caution. If over one client has the same complaint, you can likely expect a similar experience.

4. Make Sure They Have the Right Documentation

Professional investigators run their operation as a business. This means they’ve gone to the trouble of getting licensed by the state, have the right insurance to protect you from liability, and run their business legally.

Trustworthy investigators will happily provide proof of their license and insurance before you agree to work with them. If an investigator refuses or tells you they don’t have the right documentation, keep looking.

This is a sure-fire sign that the “investigator” is running a scam operation. If you work with them, they may just take your money and run.

5. Look for Investigators with Permanent Offices

Scam artists are a real concern. Luckily, it’s easy to tell the scam artists from the real investigators and it starts by looking at their office.

Reputable private investigators have permanent business addresses. These are often private offices or in-home offices where they can meet with clients, conduct research and interviews, and help you find the information you need.

If an investigator doesn’t have an office or doesn’t have a permanent address, keep looking. Without an address, there’s a chance they could take your payments and skip town. Worse, you’ll have no way to follow up and make sure they stick to the contract you signed.

6. Make Sure You’re Comfortable with Them

Your private investigator may end up uncovering sensitive information about you, your business, or whatever else you’re trying to protect. This means you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with them.

Before you agree to work with them, think about how you felt when you were in the office. If they made you feel at ease and you didn’t hesitate to discuss your case and personal details with them, consider working with them. But if you weren’t comfortable or something struck you as “off,” keep looking.

You should never feel uncomfortable speaking with your private investigator, no matter what they’re investigating.

7. Understand Their Fees

Before you agree to work with an investigator, you need to understand how they’ll charge you for their services. Most charge an hourly rate for their work, but some may offer a flat fee. It depends on the case you have.

Regardless, take the time to discuss their fee schedule before you sign any contracts or work agreements. Don’t be afraid to ask about any incidental fees you could get charged.

If you’re comfortable with those fees, hire them. If you’re not or you feel that you’re getting overcharged, keep looking. Just remember that the lower-priced investigators may not have the experience you need to get the job done right.

Final Thoughts on Hiring a Private Investigator

Hiring a private investigator is a great way to uncover information that can help you win a lawsuit or understand a problem. Just take your time, get to know the investigator, and choose someone you know you can trust.

The more comfortable you are with the investigator, the easier it will be for them to do their jobs well.

Looking for more helpful tips on navigating lawsuits? Check out our latest posts.

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