A private investigator is a freelance detective who carries out systematic and/or formal inquiries to examine and discover facts on behalf of clients. There are various specialties within the private investigative field, which sets each private investigator apart. Some of the specialties include skip tracing, social media data collection, database research, discovery examination, interviewing, insurance investigations, surveillance, and undercover work. Some states regulate the private investigative industry. It is essential to understand how governments regulate the industry before hiring a private investigator.
A superb private investigator will know the laws and standards in the state to provide the best services to attorneys. They should know the difference between civil and criminal acts; as well as the laws for recording a conversation, burden of proof, and where to find commonly used documents for court cases. Here is the A to Z of detecting a superb private investigator:
ACCOUNTABLE: Takes responsibility for all actions according to the law. If it was wrong, the P.I. should be able to admit their faults and ask for guidance if they do not know what to do.
BRAVE: Show courage in all situations including but not limited to communication skills: directing conversations, speaking to all types of people, and speaking clear and concise.
CAMERA, COMPUTER, CONTRACT: The three Cs that are necessary for all private investigators to have. Before signing the contracts, there should be outlines of each service the P.I. provides, a breakdown of the costs and expenses, and limitations of they might foresee.
DOCUMENTATION: All work including but not limited to time, travel, expenses, and findings should be well documented. All reports should disclose where and when information was found.
EFFECTIVE: Making sure resources are used wisely. If additional expenses and/or costs are going to be incurred, then some form of approval should be requested. FAST: Prevent waste by being efficient with time, travel, and all other expenses billed to clients.
GEEKY: Knowledgeable about technology and how it can work to enhance results. As well as understand the laws regarding technology and criminal charges for violating the laws.
HONESTY: Present all facts found during an investigation in an unbiased way even if they do not support the client’s opinions, as this can help the client determine their next and best approach with the newly found information.
INTEGRITY: Consistently conduct business in a manner so all people will experience the same processes and procedures. Also, understand right and wrong behavior, laws and standards. JUSTICE: The P.I. should understand the justice system including how to fill out court documents and requests for information.
KNOWLEDGEABLE: Learn and obtain training related to all services provided. “I don’t know” should not be an answer.
LEADER: Be ethical and reliable while pioneering the future, as well as taking charge of cases, give feedback and ideas for approaches.
MENTAL HEALTH: Understand the laws surrounding those with mental illness, as well as understand how to conduct investigations within and about this population.
NEGOTIABLE: The P.I. should be willing to give and take in a reasonable manner with regards to negotiating contracts, pricing and practices.
OPTIMISTIC: Stay confident and hopeful especially in tricky situations.
PATIENT: Understand some results might take time, but follow up is key to getting results.
QUALITY: Work should have the utmost quality.
REGULATION: Most of the states have regulations for private investigator which can exclude some specializations.
SURETY BOND: P.I.s should know how to obtain a surety bond, and they should understand certain specialties require additional coverage.
TIMELY: Complete all work within the agreed timeframe. If there is a need for an extension, seek approval before the deadline.
UNIQUENESS: Highlight and promote traits that set the P.I. apart from the rest. Provide new ways of fact-finding and create an atmosphere for the client to understand the diverse approaches by presenting those ideas to them for approval.
VIBRANT: Energetic and passionate about work, clients and services.
WILLINGNESS: Having the ability to do tasks outside of the scope of work that follows laws and standard practices.
XENIAL: Being kind, compassionate and culturally aware of all professional relationships. YOUTH: Understand the laws and limitations of working around minors, as well as juvenile court standards and practices. ZIPPY: Positive and brief with words, conversation and the time of others.