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How to Choose the Right Private Investigator

Advice on how to choose the right investigator

Perhaps you’ve found irregularities in your business and suspect the involvement of your employees in theft or fraud. Maybe you hold serious suspicions of deception or improper behaviour relating to your partner, the safety of an elder in your family, or the custody of a child.

If you are at the point where you need to get to the bottom of the matter, but realise you are out of your depth, it may be time to seek the services of a private investigator.

An experienced private investigator can provide a vast array of services such as surveillance, investigations or research for any matter that requires expert investigation. However, selecting a private investigator can be a daunting task if you have no previous experience working with one.

There are numerous factors to consider when looking to hire a private investigator, and I would like to share a few fundamental points to help make your choice.

Choosing an Individual or a Firm

If you choose a private investigation firm, you can never be sure of who will be engaged on your file. It could be several different persons handling your case.

It is far better to have a one-on-one relationship with your investigator. If you choose an individual investigator rather than a firm, you know who you are engaging to do your investigating.

Seek out Referrals

Although the majority of investigators advertise in local directories or on Google, there is no substitute for a referral.

If by chance you know of someone who has used an investigator, especially for a similar type of matter you need investigating, ask them for their opinion on the person they used.

Interview the Investigator or Firm

Once you have narrowed down your list of possibilities, contact them to determine if they specialise in your specific area of investigation or law. For an investigator to advise and choose the correct approach of an investigation, they need to understand the desired outcome of the client (i.e. matrimonial, criminal, civil, industrial) and the legalities relating to this.

Make sure you find out how long they have been doing the type of work you are asking them to do, and that your questions are answered to your complete satisfaction.

One thing that can separate investigators from one another is practical experience and the ability to quickly and efficiently acquire information through the use of informants and other means. Skilled private investigators are extremely adept at the artful task of gathering information that is either unknown or unavailable.
You need to ensure the investigator is someone you are comfortable talking to, and gives you clear rather than vague answers to your questions. You also have the right to ask if they or anyone employed by them has ever been arrested for a crime.

Also expect the investigator to ask many questions of you. Ethical investigators will ensure your request is genuine and that there will be no legal repercussions for performing the investigation.

Check Their Qualifications

The next step is to check their credentials such as work experience, educational background, additional training, and whether the individual or company possesses up-to-date license as required by law.

Check their references for credibility, and make sure they have a sound track record.

Further Resources
In Queensland, Private Investigator licence checks can be carried out at
You can search the ASIC Register to check how long the company has been operating at

Understand Costs and Fees

Private investigation costs time and money, and it is important to have a clear understanding of what your investigation will cost. Remember that you’re paying for a service, not the results. If you hire an investigator to catch a cheating spouse and it turns out they aren’t having an affair, you still have to pay to find this out.

The costs for an investigator will vary greatly depending on the types of services required, and may take some soul-searching on your part to determine what value you place on obtaining the information before proceeding.

Finally, it is important to agree on time frames. This is often a grey area, but can be broken down into stages and payment milestones.

I invite you to ask me any questions or arrange an interview, free of charge so that I can discuss with you all of your investigative requirements.

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