Tips on Hiring an Arizona Private Investigator
Most people are shopping “in the blind” when seeking the services of a private investigator. The PI firms that show up on page one of a “Google search” have paid a lot of money to be there but this is not an indicator of their ethics or competence. The best way to find any service provider is by referral from a trusted person who recommends someone they have used and been pleased with. However, not a lot of people have used a PI in the past and few will admit it if they have. So here are some tips as you carry out your search.
An ethical phoenix private investigation firm will openly offer a “no charge” initial consultation with you. The consultation doesn’t have to be in person but that is recommended. You need to get a feel for the kind of people to whom you are entrusting a sensitive personal issue. I prefer to consult in person with a potential client because I want to be sure the client is also being forthright with me. For you and for me people who don’t want to meet in person and look you in the eye should not be trusted. Once the PI has met with you there should not be a push made for you to use their services. If so there is a problem. If they are confident in their ability and feel their fees are fair they should be happy for you to shop around.
During a consultation ask questions and expect to answer them too. A competent PI should ask you a lot of questions too. PIs that want to talk about payment plans and get your credit card number while you still have many questions left to ask are not the ones you want to use. During your preliminary contact or consultation with a potential PI be ready to ask a lot of questions. If they are going to work for you then consider this their job interview. Another very important question to ask regards the training and experience of the prospective PI. Is this person and/or his team a law enforcement veteran or was a PI license obtained after taking an Internet course? Be sure to ask about this. There is no substitute for formalized training and experience. My firm is an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau so obviously I would encourage you to check there before hiring anyone.
One of the first questions every client asks is “what will this cost?” The question can sometimes be answered directly with a total dollar amount but most frequently usually we must quote our hourly rate and rate for mileage and estimate a probable total. What a client will reimburse for expenses accrued in the investigation should be established up front and not be exceeded without client permission. I charge dollar for dollar on expenses meaning I make no profit for my expenses but break even. Some PIs add on to their costs so they can make a few extra bucks. You should ask. Sometimes you can negotiate a “flat rate” for a limited and specific service such as service of legal process.
I do not start a case until the client has completed a Contract for Services. You should be suspect of a firm that does not use one. The contract spells out the goal of the investigation, the costs the client has agreed to and the amount of the retainer that’s required to begin the investigation. The contract also spells out the caveat that I will not operate outside ethical or legal guidelines for any reason and states I will terminate the contract if the client asks me to break the law.
You should have a commitment up front from the Phoenix PI as to when you will receive progress reports both verbal and/or written. You should receive a detailed written report of all activity and steps that were taken and what was learned no less than every 30 days while the case is active. Verbal reports should come no less than every week, and more often in some cases.
At the end of the case you should receive a detailed invoice as to how your funds were used. In Arizona all private investigators must be licensed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Persons who have suffered a financial loss due to the actions of unethical or incompetent private investigators may file a complaint with DPS and also file for a financial reimbursement from the state of up to $5000.
7633 E. Acoma Drive, Suite 207-B
Scottsdale, AZ 85260-2908 USA
Phone: (480) 269-0027