Private Investigation Frequently Asked Questions
Click the links below to jump to a specific item:
- What is a private investigator?
- Who hires private investigators?
- What is PInow.com?
- What does Pre-Screened mean?
- How can I find a local investigator on PInow.com?
- How can I find an international investigator on PInow.com?
- What if I have a problem or dispute with an investigator listed on PInow.com?
- What should I do before hiring an investigator?
- Do private investigators have to be licensed?
- How do I verify that someone is a licensed investigator?
- How do private investigators charge?
- How should I contact an investigator?
What is a private investigator?
A private investigator — also known as a PI, Private Detective or Private Eye — is someone that is hired to undertake an investigation. Most states require PIs to be trained and licensed. Investigators often have a law enforcement and/or a military background.
Who hires private investigators?
Law firms, corporations, insurance companies, private parties and entities not involved with the government or police all have reasons to procure the services of a private investigator.
What is PInow.com?
PInow.com is directory of local, professional pre-screened private investigators. PInow.com gives you the ability to search for a local investigator by location and by type of investigation. It is the goal of PInow.com to help you find the investigative help you need, wherever you need it. If you need assistance, you may call us at (888) 997-4669 or email us.
What does Pre-Screened mean?
When you work with a private investigator from the PInow network of trusted, local private investigators, you can rest easy knowing that the service is backed by the Lawgical Promise. The Lawgical Promise tells you that we have pre-screened and vetted the private investigators to verify experience and qualifications. By holding our members to high standards, we aim to provide you with the consistently smooth and efficient investigative services you deserve.
How can I find a local investigator on PInow.com?
Finding a local investigator on PInow.com is simple and fast. Use the search bar on any page of PInow.com and enter the location where you need an investigator. You may enter a city name (e.g. Los Angeles), city and state (e.g. Los Angeles, CA or Los Angeles, California), county (e.g. Los Angeles County, CA) or you may enter the corresponding zip code for the city then click the find button. To learn more about the different investigation types, scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the desired category. If you are unable to locate an investigator to help you on PInow.com, you may call us at (888) 997-4669 or email us.
How can I find an international investigator on PInow.com?
From the "Home" page scroll down to the gray section that says "What is the PInow Investigator Directory." Under the search bar to the right, click on the link that says "International." You will find a list of countries where we have investigation companies listed on PInow.com. From there, click on the country where you need an investigator. If you are unable to locate an investigator to help you, please call us at (888) 997-4669 or email us.
What if I have a problem or dispute with an investigator listed on PInow.com?
At PInow.com, we strive to be the most trusted resource on the web to locate qualified, professional investigators. The Lawgical Promise ensures that your voice is heard if you do experience complications while working with a PInow member. You can let us know about your problem and PInow will follow up to see what can be done to resolve the situation. Should you have complaints regarding an investigator you found on PInow, please call us at (888) 997-4669 or email us.
What should I do before hiring an investigator?
Even though the investigators listed on PInow.com are pre-screened, it is important you perform your due diligence before hiring a company. You should do the following: ask for and check references, obtain their license number and check with the state licensing board to make sure they are current and have no complaints. It may also be a good idea to check for complaints with the local Better Business Bureau.
Do private investigators have to be licensed?
Most states require a private investigator to be licensed. Some states have very strict requirements to obtain an investigative license while others have no requirements. The following states do not have statewide licensing requirements:
- Colorado (voluntary licensing available)
- South Dakota
You can find out licensure information and how to become an investigator in your state here.
How do I verify that someone is a licensed investigator?
Many states have online public databases you can use to verify an agency's or individual's investigation license. Additionally, many of these databases will allow you to search for valid private investigator licenses for agencies and/or individuals. Please see a partial list of publicly searchable investigator license databases below:
- Connecticut (PDF)
- Florida (individual licenses)
- Georgia (individual licenses)
- Hawaii (use code PD for individuals, PDA for firms)
How do private investigators charge?
In the majority of cases, private investigators will charge an hourly rate. Hourly rates can vary. Nearly all investigators will ask for a retainer fee before taking a case. It is unlikely you will find an investigator willing to do just one or two hours of investigative work.
How should I contact an investigator?
On PInow.com you can contact private investigators by email or phone. Once you've searched for investigators in your area, you may click on the investigator's name to take you to their business profile. There are buttons available to email them or to request a quote on the upper left, or you may contact them by the phone number listed. If there are several investigators available in the area, you may choose to click on the "Quick Quotes" button. After signing in, or quickly creating a Lawgical Passport, you will be able to send a quote request to all investigators on the list at once.
When contacting an investigator, if discretion is important, you should make sure that you are not using an email or a phone number that you share with others. Additionally, if you are emailing or leaving a voice-mail you should give explicit instructions as to when you would like your message returned.
What types of things are professional private investigators NOT allowed to do?
Although PIs have access to information the general public can not obtain, they must obey the same basic laws as ordinary citizens. Three big things they can't do:
- Pose as law enforcement officers
- Wire tapping
- Obtain cell phone records via pre-texting
What types of services do professional private investigators provide?
Private investigators offer many types of investigations. Investigators often work for law firms to gather information on civil or defense cases. Insurance companies commonly hire investigators to look into suspicious claims. Private individuals hire investigators to locate missing people, to do surveillance on spouses and for many other reasons.
A large majority of detective work is spent in the field conducting interviews or doing surveillance. Many investigators do computer searches, background checks and make phone calls to gather data. Investigators are often asked to provide detailed reports on their findings and testify in court on behalf of their clients.
If you are looking for someone or something, chances are a private investigator can help you. Below is a list of some services that PI's perform:
- Accident / Reconstruction
- Arson / Fire
- Asset Search
- Background Checks
- Bounty Hunter
- Bug Sweep / TSCM
- Child Support / Custody
- Computer Forensics / Crime
- Crime Scene
- Due Diligence
- Electronic Data Discovery
- Electronic Surveillance
- Executive Protection
- Identity Theft
- Infidelity / Cheating Spouse
- Judgment Recovery
- Missing Persons
- Mystery Shopper
- People Locate / Skip Trace
- Polygraph / Lie Detector
- Process Service