People call private investigators with all sorts of requests. Background checks, infidelity cases, criminal defense, and insurance fraud are the primary focus of many investigative firms. With the personal nature and relatively high cost of many cases, potential clients often ask themselves, “Are private investigators worth it?”
Are Private Investigators Worth It?
Just about every state in the US has stringent requirements for private investigator licensing. To meet the licensing requirements, PI’s complete thousands of hours of investigative work before they can even take the state exam.
A typical investigation can cost thousands of dollars to complete. But when an investigator finally gets their state license, they will have developed a special skill set that makes them completely worth the rates you might receive in a job quote.
Value for Services Rendered
Do you have the time, ability, and energy to conduct an investigation on your own?
You may not have the time or resources to gather the information you need. You probably don’t know where to look for certain information. If you do know where to look, your schedule might be such that you rarely have time to get specific court documents or track down people for interviews. A PI will dedicate all their effort, knowledge, and resources to solve your case in a timely manner
Private investigators specialize in practice of investigation. An experienced PI will know exactly what is needed to complete an assignment, including time and resources. The job involves a great deal of physical activity, something for which you may not have the energy after dealing with all your own daily obligations.
In cases involving surveillance, you should not conduct a do-it-yourself investigation because you risk being criminally charged with stalking or harassment. Hiring a PI provides a legal buffer between yourself and the subject of the surveillance.
In all these instances, the value you receive can easily be measured against the time, effort, and access to resources a private investigator can apply to solving your case.
You Get What You Pay For
Should you choose the lowest priced Private Investigator?
When you shop by price instead of quality, you’ll probably spend more because you’ll spend more often. This principle holds true for investigative services too. One of the clearest indicators of poor quality is the willingness of a firm to beat any competitor’s price.
A licensed private investigator will have the necessary training and experience to do the job correctly. This doesn’t guarantee results, but a good investigator will make every effort to uncover the truth and provide answers to your initial questions.
Of course you should always shop around to get an idea of average rates in your area. In the end, expertise, experience, and professionalism will be well worth the final product. And a quality investigator should be able to clearly explain what they can and can’t do.
What are Typical Private Investigator Rates?
The rates for investigative services vary depending on several factors such as location, the type of service, and whether the investigator works for a large firm or is a single person operation. Some private investigators have extensive experience in law enforcement and may provide other specialized services such as private security or bodyguard work, which can also increase an investigator’s service rates.
Basic services such as background checks and criminal history checks are generally listed at a flat rate. You an expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 per assignment for these services.
More time and resource intensive assignments will be billed at an hourly rate, with additional fees for items such as vehicle mileage, report writing, and video editing. Hourly rates are usually billed per investigator, so if one investigator costs $50 per hour, two will be billed at $100 per hour for an assignment.
Some firms offer a standby fee to be available on-call, but it can get expensive when the standby lasts for more than a few days. Standby fees can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per day in addition to other assignment fees.
Private investigators usually charge a retainer fee, which is money paid up-front to begin a case. Some will charge a minimum flat retainer fee, which can range anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. Others may charge half the price of the total assignment cost.
An investigator will usually charge against the retainer for services rendered and refund any unused amount. In some cases, the retainer is non-refundable. When a flat rate retainer is billed, an investigator will work until the funds are exhausted and continue the investigation upon payment of a second retainer.
An ethical investigative agency will not guarantee results but will guarantee that they will perform the purchased services in a timely and professional manner. For example, a PI can’t say for sure that a person has a criminal record, but a PI can guarantee they will perform a thorough background check and find all pertinent information for the assignment.
H7 Investigative Services conducts private investigations in Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, and throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
If you want to find out how our agency can help with your case, click through to our consultation request page or call us at (661)454-7513.