How to Identify a Good Private Investigator: Referrals, Qualifications, Affiliations, and Insurance
Modern day private investigators provide a broad range of services to ordinary individuals as well as attorneys. They provide specialized computer-based research including the locating of debtors, the location and moved or hidden assets during difficult divorce proceedings, conducting pre-marital and pre-employment checks, and perform criminal background checks on behalf of their clients. OKC Private investigators also routinely work undercover in corporate environments, function as officers of the service process and perform functions such as the serving of subpoenas, trial preparation, and juror profiling. Considering their profound importance in various legal procedures, it is vital that one locate qualified and trustworthy PI services. The following tips will provide a guide on how to identify a good private investigator.
How to Identify a Good Private Investigator
#1-Get a Referral from a Reliable Source
Although a majority of private investigators and investigating companies advertise their services over several avenues, nothing can substitute the power of a positive recommendation. Through referrals, one can quickly figure out which PI services are worth their time and money.
#2-Perform a Qualification Check
The very first step one should take when performing a qualification check is asking for the PI’s license number. A professional private investigator should readily provide this information. Once you have the license number, the second step is verifying it authenticity with your local municipality. Make sure the name belonging to the license number matches that of your PI. Also, find out whether the private investigator’s past clients have filed any complaint against him/her. Always remember that bad PI’s have negative reviews and has complaints filed against them. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to perform these types of searches.
The second step involves the verification of the private investigator’s education and experience. Do not shy away from asking the PI questions regarding their educational background, work experience, and additional professional training. It is worth noting that a PI with a more formal training and education is more likely to provide you with top-notch investigative services. For example, a private investigator that is familiar with the legal service process is more likely to be more methodical with their investigations. Moreover, he/she is less likely to commit tortious acts that may bring about negative repercussions to your case.
Regarding practical experience, it is best to remember that academic credentials do not necessarily imply that a PI will provide exceptional services. A PI with hands-on experience possesses the ability to efficiently and quickly acquire any required information through various conventional and unconventional means. For this reason, it is important that you consider both the academic credentials and practical experience of a PI before procuring their service.
IMPORTANT TIP: In addition to the checks mentioned above, it is imperative to verify whether or not the PI has a physical office from which they run their operations. PI’s who conduct their business over the phone are typically not credible. Should a PI perform subpar investigative work, you need to know where you can quickly locate him/her.
#3- Check the PI’s Affiliations to Legal/ Professional Organizations
Private investigators that have numerous years of experience in the same location clearly have community acceptance, efficient PI services, and high ethical practices. However, exceptional, passionate, and reliable PI’s tend to be affiliated with one or more legal organizations which publicly pledge that all of their members adhere to specific standards and guidelines. The two most important affiliates that you should be on the lookout for are the American Society of Industrial Security and the National Association of Legal Investigators.
Depending on the private investigator’s area of expertise, you may also want to find out whether the PI is affiliated with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the National Council of Investigation and Security Services. Shady or “fly-by-night” investigators are less likely to associate themselves with these organizations for fear of negative exposure. This is because they don’t care about various legislative processes about the investigative community as they typically utilize unorthodox methods to perform their investigations.
#4- Check for Insurance Coverage
Typically, most PI’s have insurance coverage of up to a few million dollars. The main reason why you should check whether or not the PI is covered is that you can be held liable if anything goes wrong during their investigation process and the PI isn’t covered. Request for a valid certificate of insurance and make sure to verify all the policy information recorded. Avoid PI’s that object to these requests as they are probably not covered.