Hiring a private investigator is not a common, everyday occurrence for most people. Before rushing to retain an agency, make sure to do your research. With thousands upon thousands of investigators across the country, you don’t want to make a decision you will later regret.  You want to make sure you ask the right questions when hiring a private investigator for an investigation. The checklist below will help steer you in the right direction. After all, the last thing anyone wants to do is waste money on an agency that is unfit to solve your case.  If you are considering hiring a local private investigator, be sure to get the answers to the questions on our NAI Private Investigator Checklist.

How to Hire a Private Investigator – The Checklist

How much does a private investigator cost?

Before  hiring any private investigator, you need to determine your budget and find out the cost of your private investigation. Most reputable private investigation agencies will have you pay and sign a statement of services in advance. You want to determine how you will be charged and if it is a flat rate or a breakdown based upon work done hourly/services provided. Depending on the company you decide to hire, you will either be charged prior to any work being done, or billed throughout the investigation. If you opt for the latter, it typically becomes pricier, each step in the process can become an additional charge. If you decide to work with an agency who offers a package/flat rate, you are never charged or surprised at the end of the investigation with additional fees. The price of an investigation will depend entirely upon the location, type of work being conducted, the amount of experience, training, and resources the agency has, and the number of investigators needed to work in the field, as well as other logistics involved in the investigation process. At NAI, we offer a free consultation to anyone, either via email, in person, or over the telephone. Most of our clients prefer over the telephone, as it is typically the fastest, most discreet, and efficient way to launch an investigation. Our agency is retained in advanced, which means we first conduct a case intake with our clients, are paid, and then have an invoice signed. Because all of our services are based upon a flat rate, our clients are never surprised at the end of the investigation with an additional bill, asking for more money after we solve the case. Additionally, our prices vary case by case, as we tailor each investigation for our clients’ individual needs. With that said, you can call our agency anytime for specific fees based upon the type of case you are looking to conduct.

Are They Licensed And Bonded, Which Most States Require?

Although every state has different requirements, most investigators must be licensed, bonded, and insured. By obtaining one’s license, the investigator has spent rigorous time in the field, has no criminal record, and knows the laws to practice investigations. Numerous states require prior field work and even sometimes law enforcement experience to ensure the individual conducting the investigation is qualified. Additionally, you want an investigation agency that is bonded and insured. Although it seems like something trivial, if there are any liabilities or if anyone is hurt while conducting your investigation, you do not want to be the one paying for it. This is a great way to pick apart the amateurs from the professionals. Investigators who are serious have coverage, make sure to take the extra steps to be practicing ethically, and go above and beyond to prove their professionalism.

Will They Provide References Upon Request?

Private investigators who have been in business have a list of references you can call to obtain a reference. If an investigation agency has no references to show you or states that because of confidentiality practices they are unable to provide them, you should beware that they might not be an established agency, and might not have the experience to properly conduct your investigation. Experienced agencies have a list of clients you can contact.

Will They Give You A Contract Stipulating Services They Provide?

One of the most important things you will receive from an investigator is your contract. You want everything itemized, detailed, and explained to you, so you know exactly what services you are obtaining and paying for. Without a detailed contract, an investigator can rip you off, say you did not pay for specific things, or continue to charge you after your work is done. Everything should be in writing and all work should be agreed upon before starting your investigation.

Do They Have Experience And Training For Your Investigation?

A great investigator sets themselves apart from the amateurs by being an expert at what they do, focusing on the task at hand, and having  plan in motion. They are apt at surveillance, interviewing, interrogating, and have research skills – as research is an investigator’s best friend. Detectives are known for taking detailed notes, and having a high degree of observation and reaction skills. The ability to adapt, improvise, and always have multiple plans in action are a must. The professional you choose should also be knowledgeable in the laws of their operating jurisdiction and be prepared to testify in court.

Do They Have Former Law Enforcement Backgrounds?

When hiring an investigator, make sure they have former law enforcement or an extensive P.I. background. Of course, all investigators should also be street smart.

Do They Answer All Your Questions With Specific Answers?

If you are asking questions and not receiving detailed answers, the investigation firm might be either too busy to handle your case or not qualified. Any investigator who takes on your case should be detailed, concise, and listen to all of your concerns before they are hired. They should communicate well and offer to communicate frequently with you during the investigation, providing updates as your case is being conducted. Additionally, the investigator should provide video and a detailed report with evidence that is suitable for court.

Are They A Full Staffed Agency Or A One-Man Operation?

One of the most important things to consider when hiring a private investigator is determining if they are a full staffed agency or one individual operating out of their home. Although this may sound trivial, this is a huge red flag, as it shows how serious the individual takes their business and how equipped they are to handle certain investigations. If the investigator does not have an office for you to go to, they might not have as much invested in the company or be able to have the qualifications you need to solve your case. You do not want only one individual doing surveillance on your case, as it is easier to get “made” and caught doing field surveillance. It is always a plus when you hire a firm if they are members of professional trade organizations, consumer protection programs (such as the Better Business Bureau), and are available to speak to you throughout your case.

Do They Have State-Of-The-Art Investigative Equipment?

As technology advances, so do investigations. The agency you decide to hire should have all state-of-the-art investigative equipment to conduct your case. This includes spyware, gadgets, GPS devices, surveillance devices, cameras, polygraphs, debugging devices, and much more.

Commonly Asked Questions About Private Investigations

Why Should I Use Your Agency To Conduct My Case?

North American Investigations, Inc. has been conducting professional Investigations and surveillance worldwide for over 40 years. We are a full service, fully staffed agency operating 24 hours a day. The agency is licensed and bonded. The agency utilizes experienced investigators with diverse backgrounds including law enforcement. We use state of the art techniques and equipment. Non-confidential references can be furnished upon request.

Where Can N.A.I. Conduct Investigations And Surveillance?

North American Investigations, Inc. has extensive experience conducting investigations throughout the world. We are one of the oldest and largest agencies operating in New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Over the last 40 years we have built a network of invaluable contacts, and affiliates all over the world.

Why Should You Hire Us to Conduct Your Infidelity Investigation?

North American Investigations, Inc. is a full service agency however we have a whole division that is dedicated to matrimonial and domestic cases such as infidelity, cheating wife or cheating husband cases. This division’s primary function is to investigate these types of cases and handles a vast amount per year. Our experience in these cases is unsurpassed and second to none. Non-confidential references can be furnished upon request.

My Attorney Says I Don't Need An Investigator. Is he right?

There are times when you don’t need the services of a private investigator. However if you suspect your partner is cheating you need evidence to prove it. Attorneys are not investigators and do not gather evidence. They simply present the evidence that you collect in court. When one party of a civil domestic suit has evidence collected by a unbiased licensed private investigator it removes the “he said” “she said” out of the court room. This generally will make an out of court settlement more likely and save you a considerable amount of time and money. We would never conduct an investigation that we know would not be beneficial to your case. If you need help in determining if our services will benefit you a consultation is the best way to find out.

Can Private Investigators Guarantee The Results?

Unfortunately there is no agency that can guarantee results and it is illegal for us to do so as per our licensing laws. It is impossible to predict what any investigation will uncover prior to immersing ourselves into the case. Any agency making claims of guaranteeing results is not being straightforward with you. We make every effort and utilize all of our experience and resources to solve your case.   Based on our statistics we have a 92% solve ratio due to our backgrounds and experience conducting thousands of cases over the years

I Tried To Do The Investigation Myself. Can You Help Me Now?

Unfortunately some people try to do their own investigations. Some people may not understand that it takes many years of experience and practical application to become a proficient investigator. It is also legal for a licensed agency to conduct investigations but a regular person may be breaking the law if they try to be their own investigator and any information they obtain might not only be useless but can result in it being used against them. Certain states have stalking laws that can results in criminal charges if you perform your own case.   If you try be your own investigator you may compromise your investigation making it more difficult and more expensive once you decide to opt for a professional agency to take it on.   It is better to invest the money with a reputable agency that specializes in matrimonial/domestic cases and have it done right the first time. In most cases judges will dismiss any evidence that is provided by you, a friend or someone directly related to you. The judge will hold a lot more weight to evidence that is gathered by a non-biased, experienced, licensed private investigator.

What Types Of Equipment Do You Use During Your Investigations?

North American Investigations, Inc. invests thousands of dollars each year to maintain an up to date level for all of our training, equipment, resources, and databases to provide you with the best service possible. Since all cases are different, North American Investigations, Inc. is fully prepared for any situation with state of the art equipment needed for your case.

Can I Tape Conversations? Can You Tap My Phone?

It is legal to tape conversations in some states as long as one party to the conversation has knowledge. For Example: In New York you can tape your conversation with another person without their knowledge. In all states it is illegal to tap a phone or intercept a conversation between two other people when you are not a party to that conversation.

Questions About Infidelity/Surveillance Investigations

Do I Have Enough To Prove That My Spouse/Partner Is Cheating?

Many times clients believe that they already have enough to prove that their partner is cheating. Unfortunately most of the time you may have enough to prove in your mind that they are cheating, but not enough to prove it in court. If you’re not sure if you have enough evidence to prove your spouse is committing adultery, please contact us for a consultation.

I Accused Them Of Cheating. Can You Still Handle The Investigation?

We never advise a client to confront their partner with any ideas, intuition, or evidence until the proper evidence has been gathered to prove the case. However we are human and sometimes our emotions get the best of us. This situation exists and you are not the only person to have confronted their partner before they should have. There are methods that can be used and the case can still be conducted by a professional agency. We will discuss your options during our free consultation.

What If My Spouse/Partner Leaves The State Or Country?

Most states have reciprocal agreements allowing private investigators to follow individuals in another state as long as the case originated in the investigator’s home state. When your spouse/partner leaves the state we have the ability to handle your no matter no matter where your partner travels to throughout the world.

I Think My Spouse/Partner Is Listening To My Calls. Can You Help?

North American Investigations, Inc. has experienced technicians with experience in (TSCM) Technical Surveillance Counter Measures. Our inventory consists of state of the art equipment for all “counter measure” situations. We will come to your location in question and do a full TSCM survey, checking for any kind of covert eavesdropping devices and techniques, including wireless, hardwired, telephonic and video transmission.   With the availability of the Internet also comes the availability for someone to purchase tapping/bugging/eavesdropping/video devices from other countries. With the vast amount of equipment that is available for purchase, the only way to combat and secure against these threats is to have a professional TSCM survey completed.

My Partner Can Be Violent. Do You Offer Any Type Of Protection?

North American Investigations, Inc. offers experienced armed bodyguards to protect you and your loved ones. With the help of our in house attorney, North American Investigations, Inc. can guide you to obtain legal protection through the court system as well.

Can One Of My Family Members Or Friends Do The Surveillance?

Family members and/or friends can’t conduct surveillance or investigations in most states. It is illegal for anyone to conduct surveillance or investigations in most states without a [wpspoiler name=”private investigations license. There is also a chance that they could be arrested for stalking in some states as well. Most courts frown upon family members and friends conducting surveillance or investigations.

What If You Lose The Person While On Surveillance?

Being proficient in surveillance takes years of practical application and extensive training. Conducting a moving surveillance on any subject (person) can be difficult. With the many thousands of hours of surveillance that we perform each year every single surveillance differs. Even the most experienced surveillance agent can get into a situation where contact with the subject may be broken due to circumstances beyond our control. What separates us is our ability to adjust and adapt to the given situation combined with our training and experience.   There may also be occasions where the surveillance agent will discontinue surveillance on the subject if the agent feels the subject is “hot” or “looking over their shoulder” to see if they are being followed. Our experienced surveillance agents will never try to compromise the integrity of your case. We can always resume at another time.

I Want to Hire North American Investigations

When Will My Investigation Begin?

Once you have decided to retain North American Investigations, Inc., your case will start immediately.

I'm Interested, What's The Next Step?

North American Investigations, Inc. offers a one-on-one consultation with an experienced investigator at no cost to you. You have the options of:

  • Meeting us at one of our offices
  • We can come to meet you at a location of your choice
  • Telephone consultation
  • Live Chat (under construction)

The investigator will discuss your options and answer your questions. We will ask relevant questions, and explain in detail the proper steps and fees needed to retain us for your investigative needs.

How Much Will The Investigation Cost?

Determining the fee for a particular investigation is estimated after a free consultation. After we understand your particular situation, ask you some relevant questions, and understand your goals we will be able to give you a quote. We aim to accommodate all of our clients and their budgets. There are many affordable options.

Will I Get Pictures Or Video?

Pictures and video are considered physical evidence. North American Investigations, Inc. will attempt to provide you with as much physical evidence combined with eyewitness testimonies. While most clients desire photos, pictures or videos, any of the three will offer the necessary evidence you need to prove your case. [wpspoiler name=”North American Investigations, Inc. will make every effort possible to obtain video. We shoot evidentiary video but we never compromise the integrity of the case, which is paramount.

Who Will Be Working On My Case?

Our staff is comprised of experienced investigators with different specialties and backgrounds, including federal law enforcement, local law enforcement, retired nypd, and investigators with in-depth knowledge of investigative procedure and skill. It is a collaborative effort and we will utilize as many investigators and techniques that are needed to solve your case and produce the desired results.

How Do You Update Me About My Case?

We maintain close contact with our clients at their discretion. We provide frequent status reports and there are live investigators working 24 hours a day that you will have access to. They will assist you at your convenience.   After your case is completed you will be provided with a final report of investigation, which is a detailed report that contains all the pertinent evidence and information that has been uncovered for your case. We prepare the reports in an evidentiary manner for use in court if needed. You will also receive all materials, video, and pictures that have been obtained.