How to Hire a Private Detective

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Choosing the right private detective for your background, company due diligence, skip trace and asset searches makes a difference in the quality of your work. With good information, you can carry out your legal action effectively. He must be thorough, reliable and creative. Here's how to hire one.

  • Ask colleagues if they know of a reliable private detective. A referral is the best way to get to the good ones in your area.

  • Search membership directories of professional associations if you can't get a referral. The National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) can help you win a court case. Look to the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) for employment checks.

  • Make sure the private detective you choose is licensed, if it's a state requirement. Ask for their license number and check with your state's licensing board that it's in good standing.

  • Ask about the detective's training and education. Legal knowledge from law school can be helpful if you're hiring for litigation. Journalism school may have taught the detective to be persistent and creative. Business education can help when doing company due diligence.

  • Take note of a private detective's experience. Many come from law enforcement backgrounds, which is great for legal work but may not help you with investigating a company.

  • Inquire about the private detective's area of expertise. A background screener isn't suitable to draw up a balance sheet of your ex-husband's assets. You're better off with an investigator who specializes in tracking down hidden accounts and creative financial dealings.

  • Ask about work the private detective contracts out like surveillance and asset searches. Make provisions in the contract that covers you in case the subcontractor does something illegal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the private detective explains results from public records databases instead of just copying and pasting the information into the report.

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