This Houston private investigator says that one thing can be said about most professions: There are ethical professionals and there are bad apples who reflect poorly on everyone. The PI business is particularly attractive to some people who see it as glamorous and with low barriers to entry.
I personally believe that blatant liars and unethical, incompetent investigators make up a noticeable percentage of the PI business. That’s a bold statement, but I’ve bumped into far too many in our business who prove my point. I love the PI business, and I despise those who discredit our work through misconduct or criminal activity.
A story that I tell in some of these speaking engagements. It’s important in this book, as I believe many would-be PIs will be readers.
Houston Private Investigator Says Investigate Your Investigator
It doesn’t have to be a difficult thing. Most states require licensing for investigators. Check to be sure the investigator you want to hire has an active license. Request his/her complaint and disciplinary history from the licensing authority.
Make an appointment and go to the PI’s office. Is it a professional office space? Does the business have the tools of the trade? How long has the investigator been in business? Ask about background and experience. Does someone there have past law enforcement experience? That’s a plus from a knowledge perspective but also for valuable contacts.
If you have the time and want to be even more certain you’re hiring the right investigator, check the public records for past lawsuits, criminal convictions, or actions against them. Does the investigator or staff have experience in the type of investigative services you need? If all they’ve done is divorce surveillance, they may not be a good choice for complex litigation.
Clients shouldn’t be hiring an investigator based on a high profile or their personality. My business is mostly about collecting facts. Facts are facts, and they do not need enhancement or fabrication, or at least they shouldn’t. My business is also pretty much one of routine rather than excitement. Sifting through public records is a boring but important part of the job. Spending long days in surveillance to get that one or two hours of useful information or a few photos is common.
It’s also a business of technological surveillance and research. A professional investigator needs the tools of the trade. From investigative databases to covert and overt photography and surveillance equipment, it’s an expensive business if you do it right.
This Houston private investigator can’t stress strongly enough that you must investigate your investigator.