Frequently Asked Questions
A Private Investigator is a licensed professional who is often hired to find information or evidence needed to solve significant problems for their clients using resources, techniques, and tradecrafts which are not typically known or made available to the general public. Private Investigators are usually the end of the line after you’ve explored every resource and when you have tried everything you know and still come up dry… that’s when you need to hire a good PI!
Hiring a Private Investigator can be very intimidating, especially since most people have never done it before. The first step is to carefully review their online presence to see if they have a current and up to date website. You are looking to see if there is any information about them online that you can find (such as achievements, reviews, profiles in trade organizations or associations, news articles, etc). You also want to verify the agency is licensed and insured. It is also important to make sure that it is an actual company and not just one investigator looking for extra cash in their retirement. You want a professional team (even if it is a small one) with the resources, qualified staff, technology, and equipment to handle your case correctly and keep your costs affordable. You also want to make sure they either specialize in or offer a specialist in the type of case you need to hire them for. Make sure you are not hiring a “jack of all trades and a master of none”!
There are dozens if not hundreds of types of Private Investigators. It’s not just a guy in a trench coat or a Hawaiian shirt with a “paparazzi camera” sitting in his car looking to get a photo of a cheater or someone faking a hurt back. They use industry resources, skills from their previous backgrounds, security clearance, and specialized equipment or software to procure information, evidence, and/or intelligence. Some of the best even operate at a level comparable to government agents. Typically, private investigators handle cases and situations that are either civil in nature or do not meet the threshold for law enforcement to get involved.
There are a lot of websites online that display the costs of “Private Investigators”. However, most of them are actually hourly rates for their employees and not that of the Agency you are hiring. This is because many get their information from hiring websites where hourly rates for the jobs the agencies are looking to fill and base their information on what their employees are paid instead of what it actually costs to hire that agency. The typical Private Investigation Rates for an Agency in Florida can range from $75-$125 per hour for domestic cases and can go above $150-$350 per hour for specialized services such as various types of forensics, cyber investigations, and specialized subject matter experts. Many Private Investigative Agencies maintain equipment and software that exceeds $100k or more and like any professional service, you get what you pay for!
Detectives are sworn-in law enforcement officers who work for local or state law enforcement agencies. They operate on public resources, and their primary objectives are to “find and arrest” bad guys and have the full resources of their departments at their disposal! Private Investigators however have no police powers, no authority to arrest, and no ability to call in backup if they are in trouble. Private investigators are hired by individuals, companies, and attorneys to handle cases that are either civil in nature or outside of the parameters which law enforcement is able to handle. This can be either due to a lack of department resources to allocate a detective based on the perceived severity of the case, or a case requiring a specialist that goes above and beyond the resources made available to a law enforcement agency.
Private Investigators come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. Their services can range from corporate espionage to crime scene and accident reconstruction, DNA forensics, physical security, and specialized cyber sleuths to digital forensics or undercover surveillance professionals. Any time where there is a potential liability, misconduct, criminal act or need information and intelligence to get to the bottom of a situation, there is typically a private investigator who specializes in that area of expertise.