Following are some suggestions to help guide your decision in hiring a private investigator:
Hire a licensed/registered private investigator. South Africa requires that investigators are registered with PSiRA. Check with PSiRA to verify an investigative license, our business registration number with PSiRA is 2791975, and my personal registration number with PSiRA is 2464070. They can be contacted by phone on 0861 333-850 or you can verify a registration on their website http://www.psira.co.za
Ask to see a physical copy of their license. Verify that the license was issued by the appropriate state agency, check the expiration date, and verify the name.
Ask the individual you wish to hire to provide a resume (CV) or personal dossier. Evaluate the work history for relevant experience. Look for experience in the military, law enforcement, government organizations, crime scene specialists, etc. Check for relevant education such as degrees in criminal justice, criminology, and forensic science. Also, look for special training and continuing education credentials.
Ask the person or agency you are considering to provide examples of their work (sample client reports, newspaper articles, success stories, etc.).
Agree on pricing upfront before hiring a private investigator. Discuss requirements for a retainer, hourly fees, flat fees, expense reimbursement, etc.
Discuss and agree upon the services you wish the private investigator to provide, and agree with the results you expect. If both parties have a clear understanding of the expectations, it is easier to gauge performance and increases the likelihood that both parties will be satisfied with the results.
Make sure that you have a signed contract.
Private investigators operate on an upfront retainer system, much like lawyers.
Just because you think something is happening does not mean something is happening. That is why you are hiring a private investigator.
Before you hire a private investigator, meet them in person if you can, preferably at their place of business, agency office, etc. Visiting their office will help you gain comfort in their legitimacy and perhaps the quality of their business operation. In South Africa, it is a requirement for a private investigation agency to have a physical office to be registered.
Avoid doing business with those who openly suggest breaking the law.
Check their website. Do they have one? If so, is it a quality site with good information? We recommend checking out their website prior to making a phone call.
Don’t do business with jerks. If you don’t like someone, for whatever reason, don’t do business with them. It is never a good idea to do business with a person whom you don’t even like.
Do some investigating of your own and check out the person’s business and personal websites, Twitter and Facebook feeds, and comments they may have posted on various websites. This will give you a feel for the type of person they are. Good people make good business people.
Use this list of questions to ensure you are getting ready to hire a reputable, licensed, and qualified investigator, tailor-made for your specific need:
Are you licensed?
What is your license number?
Are you currently in good standing with your state’s licensing board?
Can I see some testimonials?
Do you have a website or social media for your business?
Can I see an example of a typical report you produce?
Do you use a contract?
Have you ever investigated this type of case before?
How long have you been in business?
How often and under what conditions will you contact me throughout the entirety of my case? Also, what method of communication will you use?
Do you belong to any professional associations?
Do you possess any specialized certificates?
What is your background?
Tell me about your pricing method. Do you use flat fees or bill hourly? Do you require a retainer? If so, how much?
Will I be billed for any incidentals, such as mileage, meals, lodging, etc.?
If you contact an investigator who gets exasperated with your questions, refuses to answer them, or whose answers don’t meet your expectations, move on to your next option and try again.
Following these simple guidelines will help youhire an investigator or agency or company that provides quality service.