People call upon private detective agencies for a number of reasons: to prove or disprove their partner’s infidelity; gather evidence for a court case or divorce; locate a missing person; perform background checks on prospective employees or to investigate fraud and other improprieties.
Personal investigators are usually highly motivated individuals with specialist training that enables them to handle sensitive situations with discretion and professionalism. They are sometimes ex-policeman or security personnel so will possess both understanding and experience of investigative work.
What’s more, these agencies often have access to the most state-of-the-art, high-tech surveillance technology that will provide you with watertight evidence you can use in court, or to inform your personal relationships.
Results will normally be presented to you in the form of photographic and video evidence along with a comprehensive written report. Private detective agencies are required to abide by strict privacy policies, so you’ll know that all of your information is being handled sensitively and confidentially.
If you think you should hire a private investigator – whether for a personal or business matter – you will need to find a detective service operating in your local area. Spend a bit of time researching your options online before calling to make your enquiry, as you’ll want to make sure you’re dealing with a professional, established company.
The agency’s website should give you some information about the background of the private investigators working there and how long they have been in the business, but the best way to scope out the company properly is to visit them in person. Many will advertise their address online, whereas others may not – so you may need to e-mail or phone first.
Bear in mind that when you make contact, you should be able to speak directly with an investigator in the strictest confidence. You can also send an e-mail if you prefer. When you have explained your situation, the agency will probably invite you in for a full consultation and to explain their recommended process to you in person.
If you’re looking for surveillance services, you will need to decide whether you want to rely on private surveillance (using covert vehicle tracking devices or computer tracking) or manned surveillance. Manned surveillance operations can be extremely effective in gaining proof of individual activity in a number of situations.
Some manned operations will take place on foot or in vehicles, whereas others may deploy whole teams to cover all bases: buildings, public transport systems and taxis, for example. Private detectives are trained to undertake these covert operations so will be able to advise you which approach is the most appropriate for your case.
If you’re trying to locate someone, whether an estranged loved-one or a debtor, private detective agencies employ highly experienced, professional researchers who will locate the individual and then provide you with an address. They should operate on a ‘no trace, no fee’ basis. The service typically takes 24-48 hours so is ideal for a time-sensitive matter.
Most investigators should offer you a free consultation, but you will need to be upfront about your budget and ask how much the service is likely to cost. When possible, request a written quote before the service begins so that you don’t suddenly find yourself liable to pay for hidden charges or extra services that weren’t discussed beforehand.
So, while searching online for a detective agency is a good place to start, you will often need to meet with your investigators face to face in order to begin the service. Look out for an agency based in your local area or one that you can easily travel to.