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February 7, 2011 6:42 PM   Subscribe

How do you hire a private investigator?

How do you find one? How do you know they're any good? What's the range of fees?
posted by liketitanic to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A referral. Ask your accountant, lawyer, etc. if they can recommend anyone.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:46 PM on February 7, 2011


I use this directory weekly to hire people across the country for various projects. It's primarily for process servers, but MANY of these people are licensed PIs who also do process serving, court records research, etc. After searching in your zip code, the profile for each individual will indicate what they do, the geographic scope of their practice, etc.

You can message me with your area if you'd like. I might be able to recommend someone if you are in the US.
posted by overyourhead at 7:22 PM on February 7, 2011

Most larger security companies (the kind that provide event security, store guards etc.) usually have an investigative division. The one advantage of going through a security firm is they will provide you with documentation that the person you're hiring is licensed, not a criminal and likely competent. There is an abundance of shady weirdos that work as PI's.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 7:36 PM on February 7, 2011

You can run into all sorts of problems with a shady PI. Definitely go for a referral as others have suggested.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 12:35 AM on February 8, 2011

Try the BBB for recommendations. They are always a good starting source.
posted by JJ86 at 8:08 AM on February 8, 2011

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can recommend one.
posted by vickyverky at 9:36 AM on February 8, 2011

If you know any lawyers they often work with investigators and would be a good source of referrals. Where would Perry Mason be without Paul Drake?
posted by TedW at 10:00 AM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just FYI, it is illegal to work as a PI, or do work for one, without a license, at least in California where I live.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:34 PM on February 8, 2011

A friend of mine was a PI for a law firm. It turns out many criminal law firms have PI's that they regularly work with. Perhaps a well regarded firm in your area is the place to start.
posted by memi at 6:30 PM on February 8, 2011

This site lists licensing requirements for each state and also the state PI association where you can get referrals. Some states require no licensing at all, while others have stringent requirements. There are basically two types of investigators: those who are former law enforcement and those who are not (these usually work on the defense side). There are good and bad to both types. Good luck!
posted by knolan at 10:27 AM on February 17, 2011

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