You Are Not Sherlock Holmes! When to Hire a Private Investigator

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Ever since 1841 when Poe created his Detective Dupin to solve The Murders in the Rue Morgue, it would seem each generation has its own favorite private investigator. The late 1800s had Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, now also of the eponymous television show of this century. The cynical Sam Spade and his partner from the 1930s is another stylized version of a private instigator firm. Popular film and television tend to glamorize and at the same time criminalize private detectives, where the truth of the matter is their job deals more with routine cases on a day to day basis.

1. I need to hire a private investigator.The top three reasons a private investigator is hired, whether by an individual or a company, is to find a missing person, to do surveillance, or as debtor and fugitive recovery (also known as a skip trace). These are very basic reasons that can very well apply to different people and situations. If you need to find out what someone is doing and where they go, or have gone to, a private investigator can help. Do not think that you can do the surveillance yourself. Private detectives in some cases, have access to databases the public does not; the ability to check several sources can be a time-saver. Also, there is the often ignored fact that surveillance may be difficult if you undertaken it yourself. There is the likely possibility that you will be recognized, so it is better to have a professional take care of things.

2. Where to hire a private investigator.
Personal recommendations from family and friends is a good strategy. You want to go with someone that is tried and true, if possible. It is estimated nearly half of all private investigators in the U.S. do work relating to financial concerns, such as in collections and other financial institutions. Private investigation firms are also hired by civil lawyers and at times by law enforcement. So if no one you know has hired a private detective, or if you do not feel comfortable asking for recommendations from friends and family, you can instead check with your local Sheriff’s department.

3. How much for a private investigator.
If you are thinking of hiring a private investigator, it is likely an emotional time for you. There may be information you are not sure you want to know. But it is important to have a few things in mind as you consider what to do. One question that will likely come up, after “Do I need a private investigator?” is this next one: “How much for a private investigator?” The answer of course is, it depends. The standard is to charge by the hour. Jobs that are more complex may require a higher price point, as will more experienced or better known investigators. Your best bet is to get any agreements for services and fees in writing before any work on your case begins.

How much for a private investigator? Money costs, yes, but do not forget the emotional toll either.