What should I look for when hiring a private investigator?
The landscape can be tricky, and full of deceptive marketing, for that reason, word-of-mouth referrals are probably best. If you know someone who has used a private investigator and had a positive experience, you should try to use that person. If you know an attorney who uses investigators, you can ask them as well.
Don’t know anyone, or don’t want to raise suspicion asking around? To the internet! When looking online for a private investigator in state of Florida, here are some things to look for:
Properly Licensed: In Florida private investigation agencies are required to display their license number on all marketing materials, our license number is A 1000075, and they all follow that format. So if you don’t see the license number on their website, move on immediately. To see how to verify it, see above section on the topic.
Buy Local: I can write an entire essay on the benefits of hiring someone local, but I’ll limit it here to a few key points. Generally speaking, the best results come from local investigators who reside and operate in the area of the investigation. They know the area best. They have knowledge of restaurants, bars, hotels, as well as the traffic (exits, lights, changes in construction, parallel roads…the nuances of following someone are endless). And lastly, if they’re close by, you can actually meet with them. To learn how to verify this, search here.
Marketing Claims: Unlike attorneys, private investigators can pretty much say anything they want in their marketing. My colleagues and I joke about this trend all the time “Hey, did you know that so-and-so is a SUPER MEGA ULTRA INVESTIGATOR with 100 years experience?” Most PI’s handle their own marketing, so don’t put much stock in unverifiable or lofty claims like “elite, premier, top-rated, #1” It’s amazing how many #1 investigators there are out there! The truth is, there are no official ratings or rankings for our profession, so treat any such claims skeptically, and instead ask, is this website useful and informative to my questions and concerns, or is it just trying to convince me this company is the best thing since sliced bread?
Reviews: Some are honest, heartfelt, and genuine from clients who had a great experience. Some are friendly reviews from friends and colleagues. And some are made-up by people trying to boost business. Reviews are great, and always welcomed, but the sensitive nature of private investigation means they will be rare. Not every client wants to post on a public forum that they were cheated on or had a bitter custody battle, and most private investigators understand this. My advice? Let how you feel about the phone call or meeting take priority over the reviews. After all, you’re not deciding which smartphone case to buy or where to get tacos here. There’s a lot of incentive for businesses to game the review system to get work, so treat them skeptically, and definitely check out other review sites beyond Google, such as Yelp, or Angieslist.
Lastly, and maybe it’s just a personal preference, but I like to see a photo of the private investigator somewhere in the about me or contact us section. Putting your photo out there means you’re not trying to hide from your clients. I understand different investigators have varying opinions on their privacy, and to each their own, but for me, it’s nice to see who I’m actually dealing with, and puts me more at ease. I always like to know who I’m dealing with, and understand my customers often do too.
At TMS I have personally tried to make this website as informative and user-friendly as possible for potential clients inquiring about hiring a private investigator. The more questions I can help resolve here, the better, so when and if it’s time to contact us for a free consultation you have a general understanding of what to expect and know the right questions to ask. People seem to love our pay-as-you-go system and easy-answer chat forms over our competitors. We’re constantly striving to make hiring a private investigator as painless as possible for our clients.