An unfortunate truth about life is that someone people aren’t honest or forthright. Hiring a private investigator or private detective can help you level the playing field. You may be surprised by what an investigator can do for you.

When you are considering using the services of a private investigator, it can be not very clear to know what qualities to look for. How do you know that the person you are hiring is legitimate? What are the standards to judge a private investigator to determine if they are skilled and experienced? You may get a referral from a friend or neighbor, but this is no guarantee that you will hire someone professional. The following are three critical characteristics that any legitimate, high-quality private investigator will have.

Legitimate Private Investigators are Licensed

Before hiring a private investigator, you must do your due diligence and ensure you choose a reliable and professional PI. So it is crucial to ask to see their PI license. Check that their license is valid in your state. Currently, 45 of the states in the country require a license. The five states that do not require a license are Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Alaska. Moreover, although Colorado is voluntary, a professional should have a license when operating out of that state. In California, you can search by license number or name at the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, a division of the Department of Consumer Affairs. Our firm has been licensed since 1984.

The Best PI’s Have Experience

You want to ensure that the selected private investigator is qualified to do the job and execute it well. If they have a website, read through it and check to see if it lists their qualifications. Do not be afraid to ask them how many years of experience they have. You want to ensure your PI is qualified to investigate and possibly testify in the type of case you are hiring for. Ask how many cases similar to yours they have worked on in the past year. It’s best to choose a PI specializing in the type of investigations you need. Not every private investigator excels at every kind of case—so select one who specializes in the style of investigation you need. You also want to ask them if the case will be handled by just one PI or if they will be collaborating with another PI professional on the assignment. 

They Should Engage With Professional Organizations

The most reputable and driven private investigators are typically part of an organization or have at least built a great relationship with them. This is an excellent way to weed out unqualified or sketchy PIs who may seek to scam you. Shady private investigators won’t care about the newest legislature and continuing education. Therefore, some professional organizations that a private investigator might belong to include the National Association of Legal Investigators, the National Association of Investigative Specialists, and the National Council of Investigation and Security Services. Membership in these organizations will help you see a company’s standing in the investigation community and help you decide.

When you start looking for a PI to hire, take your time to ensure that the individual or firm you plan to use fulfills the three attributes listed above.