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How to hire an Infidelity Private Investigator
Private investigators are more likely to be hired as a means to expose an extramarital affair than for any other reason. Suspicions of infidelity between partners have destroyed countless relationships, often groundlessly. Sleepless nights, worry, lack of focus, plus emotional pain are all too common for someone who suspects their partner is having an affair.
Monitoring the behavior of the suspected “cheater” and providing physical evidence in the form of photographs, videos, voice recordings, or semen-detection testing/DNA evidence are examples of activities that are best left to the licensed private investigator. The majority of people find that the benefits gained by enlisting the services of a knowledgeable and experienced investigator justify the expense.
Why should I hire a private investigator?
Unless you are fully qualified to conduct surveillance or counter-surveillance on your own, it is unwise to risk exposure and put yourself in jeopardy. In order to ensure personal safety, a private investigator will undergo rigorous training to accomplish certain dangerous jobs such as vehicle surveillance. They have the resources to change appearance or vehicles rapidly, possess the ability to react to unforeseen circumstances on the spot, and know what to do in the event that their cover is blown. When you hire a private investigator, you are able to achieve your objective without putting yourself in harms way.
Protection From Possible Criminal Charges:
Since it is
necessary to spend significant time watching subjects from
vehicles and recording their conversations or movements, it is not
unusual for neighbors or well meaning citizens to contact the
police regarding what appears to be suspicious activity.
Private investigators utilize sophisticated, specialized equipment in performing the various aspects of the job. From performing surveillance to installing tracking devices, a PI must not only possess the best tools for the assignment, but the expertise for proper operation. In fact, much of the equipment utilized is available only to licensed investigators. If a PI is serious about his profession, he will continue throughout his career to attend courses that keep him on the cutting edge of technology to provide the best service possible to his client.
Capacity to Successfully Interview an Information Source:
Much like a police detective, a good private investigator will have the interviewing skills necessary to extract information from a cooperative or uncooperative information source. It is not enough to simply ask questions…. even if they are the right questions. Investigators are experienced in interpreting body language that may indicate that someone is likely lying or attempting to avoid responding to a question. This is a vital to the interviewing process. Questions must be posed in an “open-ended” and probing style to reveal useful information, and a skilled interviewer will be up to the task.
Knowledge of Current Laws Pertaining to Surveillance:
A professional investigator will be aware of the laws governing surveillance of an individual…. whether it be through video, photographs, or recorded conversation. The laws vary from state to state, and like any laws, they are subject to change. It is the responsibility of the private investigator to make sure that any activities performed on your behalf are within the limits of the law. The act of tapping a telephone line for instance might be entirely legal in one state under certain conditions, and illegal in another. Hiring a professional who is fully informed of the laws could not only provide evidence of wrong doing by an individual, but might also prevent you from unknowingly breaking the law. It is crucial that proper legal chain of evidence is maintained when collecting or transporting evidence pertinent to your case, as it may prove beneficial for subsequent court testimony. This is where the benefits gained by enlisting the services of a professional justify the expense.
To Save Time:
Conducting a successful investigation requires much time and patience, especially when surveillance is involved. Most people do not have the luxury of adding a full time investigator’s job to their already crowded schedule. Unless this is your area of expertise, it will likely take you considerably longer to accomplish a particular task than a professional investigator who is accustomed to such activities on a daily basis. Even more importantly, if the investigation is not properly conducted then the time you did invest will have been wasted. Is it not far better to hire a professional investigator who makes a living doing this type of work so that your own time may be better spent?
What are the most important things to look for when hiring a private investigator?
Private Investigator’s License: A reputable private investigator will be licensed by the state, and be willing to provide his or her license number upon request. Almost all states require that private investigators have a government issued license, with the exception of South Dakota, Idaho, Mississippi, Colorado, Alabama, and Alaska. In all other states, it is a crime to provide investigative services without a license. Hiring such a person exposes you to financial and legal risk. Investigators wishing to obtain a professional license must satisfactorily complete an exam that reveals their qualifications and experience, as well as submit to a background check that must show an unblemished criminal history. Prior investigative experience or law enforcement experience is required by some states in addition to personal character references. There are companies that provide information services and refer to themselves as “investigators”. In reality, they are simply searching public record databases for easily accessible information. The best way to ensure that you will receive the professional services of a legitimate private investigator is to verify that he or she holds a valid private investigator’s license. To do so, contact the state’s licensing authority and provide the investigators license number for specific information regarding his or her record as a licensee. At a minimum, you should determine the date that the license expires, and that the name given to you matches the name on the licensee’s record.
Background Experience: How long has your potential investigator been in this type of work, and does he/she specialize in a particular facet of investigating? Much like the medical field, investigators will most likely have an area of specialization for which they are particularly trained. No one would enlist the services of a podiatrist to treat a heart condition, and care should be taken to hire the right person or agency skilled in the investigative expertise required for your situation. For example, a police officer trained primarily to respond to burglaries is unlikely the best choice to conduct a covert investigation. Many investigators bring years of law enforcement experience to the agency, however, it is important that the investigator’s experience matches the needs of your case. If desired, you may also want to check for additional certifications such as CLI (Certified Legal Investigator) and CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner).
Bonded and Insured:
For your protection, be sure that your PI is bonded and has current liability insurance coverage. When you hire a private investigator to work on your behalf, you could be liable for damages caused by him or her while working on your case. If the PI does not have adequate coverage, you risk exposure to this liability. Jurisdictions often have minimum requirements for the amounts of liability insurance that a PI must carry, and amounts vary state to state. For example, Texas requires a minimum of $300,000 in liability insurance for each investigator. The amount of coverage maintained by an investigator is a good indicator of his or her level of professionalism within the industry. Most investigative agencies consider one million dollars of coverage to be an acceptable minimum. The information regarding this type of insurance coverage is a matter of public record and can be verified prior to deciding whether to hire a particular individual.
Ethical Business Practices: The State Attorney General’s office or Better Business Bureau is the best sources to determine whether customer complaints have been filed against your potential investigator or his agency. Trust your instincts as well. Although the investigator may have passed a background check and demonstrated the necessary knowledge to obtain a license, this does not guarantee that his or her ethical standards match your own. It is very common for the PI to quiz you as well regarding your intentions and goals concerning the investigation. Rather than being offended, you should interpret this as a sign of the investigator’s integrity and desire to work within the limits of the law.
Mandatory Confidentiality: Your written agreement should include a confidentiality clause that prohibits your investigator from discussing or in any way sharing information regarding your case without your prior authorization.
The importance of verbal and written communication between you and your private investigator cannot be overstated. Not only must you clearly explain every aspect of your situation and objective, but your investigator also should ask questions to verify that your intentions are both moral and legal.
So you decided to hire an investigator…what now?
If you are currently working with an attorney, inform your counsel of your plans to hire a private investigator to gather evidence. If he or she agrees that this is the best course of action, make sure the private investigator understands that in order to maintain “work product privilege”, all reports must go directly to your attorney.
Once you decide to hire a private investigator, it is time to choose an investigator that you are comfortable with and then establish guidelines regarding your budget and expectations. When contacting a private investigating agency by phone or in person, be sure you are speaking to whoever will personally handle your case. He or she should provide you with various options as to how your objective can be reached and discuss the pros and cons of each so there are no misunderstandings or unrealistic expectations.
It is important to be in agreement as to what service will be provided to you as well as what you will be charged. It is typical for an investigator to charge an hourly rate plus reimbursement for expenses related to working your case. Examples of possible expenses include hotel costs, airline tickets, rental car, and payments to informational resources. Ask for an estimate as to the total cost for the service rendered, however, you may want to specify a cap on the expense that cannot be exceeded without your prior approval. Laws regarding acceptable fee structure vary state to state; so make sure that your agreement is compliant with state law. Your investigator should provide a comprehensive written report of his or her activities and/or expenses associated with your case prior to receiving payment for the work performed. Most importantly of all, make certain that all agreements between you and the private investigator your hire are in writing and signed by both of you.
Choose which method of communication will be most efficient between you and your investigator. You can decide whether you wish to have a progress report on a daily basis, or just be informed when a significant discovery is made. You may prefer to be contacted by telephone, e-mail, fax, or written reports. Your preferences (including deadline requirements) should be clearly understood prior to the initiation of the investigation.
Of course, no investigator can predict much less guarantee the outcome of a particular case. There will usually be more than one possible approach to conducting the investigation, and you should be made aware of all possible strategies. Although your private investigator is the professional and therefore should know which tactics will work best for a case such as yours, you are entitled to have input as to the strategy used to accomplish your objective.