Many businesses in various industries (shipping and receiving, industrial and manufacturing, legal services, etc.) need to hire a private investigator at some point to deal with a case  theft, or malpractice.  The job of finding a private investigator usually falls on the shoulders of the company’s HR representative or CEO. In almost every case, this is the first time that the CFO/HR rep needs to hire a private investigator, so it is normal that they don’t necessarily know where to begin. This step by step guide intended to be a resource for anyone who needs to hire a private investigator for their company.


Step 1- Assess your needs

There are a lot of different types of cases out there that require private investigators. The first step to finding the right one for you is pinning down exactly what your needs are. Common questions to ask yourself are:


Are you investigating an employee within your company?
Do you need to meet face to face with your private investigator in the immediate future?

What is your budget?
Have the police been involved in this case or do you intend to get them involved?
What technology do you already have at your disposal? What technology do you need to get your questions answered?
What outcome are you expecting from hiring a private investigator?

These questions will help you narrow down your options when contacting potential private investigators, which brings us to Step 2.


Step 2- Research your options

Once you get an idea of the specific needs you have as a client, it’s time to start researching private investigators. Using a traditional google search is the most common method for finding a P.I. that fits your needs. Use the specificities of your case to narrow your online search. For example, if you want a local private investigator, search for “Private Investigator (your city)”. If you want a private investigator that deals specifically with employee theft, make sure to include that in your search. This allows you to narrow your results from the thousands of options available. Next do some browsing on different websites to find a private investigator with a proven track record, reliable testimonials, and a high success rate.


Step 3- Set up a meeting


The next step will be to set up a meeting with your prospective private investigator. This can usually be done through a telephone call with the number available on the website. The availability of the private investigator is a good sign of how it will be working with him or her. You want a private investigator who is extremely easy to get in touch with, who responds to telephone calls quickly, and who will take the time to hear out your case. Once you get a meeting in place, it’s time for step 4.


Step 4- Gather evidence and information


Hopefully your private investigator will provide some information on the phone about what information they will need at your meeting, but the general rule is that you can never have enough. Bring every thing that you think could be of potential use to your P.I., as well as a list of questions that you would like to ask. Some common things to bring to the meeting are:


-phone records (obtained legally)

-background checks of employees

-browser history

-accounting information (list of accounts, with reference to any disparities or irregularities)

-a list of employees

-security footage

-contact information and addresses of employees

-police report


Step 5- Have the Meeting


The meeting is probably the most important part of the hiring process for your private investigator, so even if you decide not to hire locally, make sure that your P.I firm offers video conference or phone conference meeting options so that you get a chance to talk before you make the decision to hire. Most private investigator firms will insist on this meeting anyway to make sure that your case fits their requirements and capabilities.


The meeting is the time to share your information, ask any important questions, and most importantly, see how you feel when you are with your P.I. Your private investigator should be someone who makes you feel comfortable, secure, and respected. This relationship is of the utmost importance when you are dealing with sensitive, emotional, confidential issues, so don’t underestimate the value of a P.I. that makes you feel at ease.


Step 6- Hire the Private Investigator


After you have your meeting with your private investigator, you will probably be able to decide if it is a good fit. The private investigator will have their own opinions and requirements about accepting your case. If both of you decide to proceed, it is time to hire the investigator to begin the case. Most private investigators offer a flat fee for the investigation process, and then charge additionally in the case of a positive outcome.  Many private investigators will invoice you directly as soon as the investigation starts, so be ready to pay ahead of time. Again, additional fees may exist as the investigation develops so make sure to discuss this with your P.I.

Confidentiality is another thing that you will want to discuss with your P.I. to understand what their protocol is and if there are any agreements that need to be signed.


Once the Private Investigator is hired, he or she should offer you weekly updates on the case and alert you immediately with any new information as they discover it. They may hold interviews with employees, get in contact with the police on your case, and conduct other interrogations to get the information that they need.


Hiring a private investigator is a relatively straightforward process, but focusing on staying organized, presenting correct and complete information from the beginning, and looking for a natural and open relationship with your specific private investigator is a good way to make sure that you hire the right person for you and get the results you’re looking for.