A private investigator, or private questioning agent, is someone who can be employed by individuals, firms, or NGOs to undertake private investigative services. Private investigators are very helpful in uncovering and reporting information related to legal cases, corporate identity theft, counter-terrorism, frauds, immigration, missing persons and child abuse. They are also used in performing background checks on new employees and prospective business partners. Private investigators can serve in a variety of different capacities depending on their qualifications and experience.
Education Private investigators must be licensed by the appropriate regulatory body in their respective state. The most common regulatory body for private investigators is the Society of Retired Investigators (SRI). Private investigators can obtain their licenses at any one of three regional accrediting bodies: the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) – which is the only national governing body of NALI, the National Security Investigators (NISA) – which is the only national governing body for NISA and the National Federation of Business Investigators (NFBI) – which is the only national governing body for NFI. Private investigators can obtain their private investigation license at any one of these organizations.
Training & Experience Private investigators must possess at least a year of working experience in the field. This demonstrates to potential employers that the applicant has the practical experience necessary to undertake the investigative work. To enhance your chances of obtaining your private investigator license you may want to consider taking continuing education courses. There are many training and certification programs available through the Internet and local community colleges.
Licensing & Insurance Private investigators need insurance to protect themselves, their clients and the assets they investigate. Private investigators must maintain a separate private liability policy in contrast to a business insurance policy held by a corporation. Most private investigators will have both state and federal law suits to protect them and their clients. In order to be licensed in the United States private investigators must have a federal lawsuit in good standing and have met other requirements set forth in the private investigator’s code of ethics.
Obtaining Information When obtaining information from a person or source in regard to a possible case you may be required to have their permission. A private investigator must have a written consent to search and to obtain information from a person or source. Permission may be obtained without showing cause or presenting a search warrant as long as the private investigators state they have the consent of the person being searched without unreasonable suspicion. Most states also allow for the voluntary waiver of consent so that the search is lawful even if the person did not give express permission. The exception to obtaining information without consent is where there is suspicion of criminal activity such as drug use or production of illegal drugs.
Criminal Background Checks Most private investigators carry out investigations on people in connection with a law enforcement agency or with federal law enforcement agencies. If you are interested in hiring a private investigator then it is important to have him or her to undergo a background check. To comply with state and federal laws, an investigator will need to submit certified copies of his or her police reports, records of any arrests or other felonies, court records, driving records and passport records. Federal agencies will require the submission of fingerprints, social security number verification, and a full criminal history. These records can all be obtained for a reasonable fee.
Training A private detective or an investigative services agent needs to be well trained and knowledgeable about state and federal laws, interviewing techniques, surveillance, computer forensics, interviewing, law enforcement and other pertinent procedures. The training will vary from state to state. Most investigators are well educated in basic investigative procedures and have been thoroughly trained in administrative procedures. Some states will require continuing education beyond the national standards for licensing.
Costs Of investigative services A typical agency will charge between one hundred and five hundred dollars per hour for a one hour interview or consultation. Basic undercover investigations may cost from fifty to one thousand dollars. There are many investigative services available to fit your needs. From routine background checks to surveillance and undercover investigations, there is a variety of options to choose from. Private detective agencies can be very affordable when compared to the cost of a criminal investigation services company. If you need a detailed report then hiring a private investigator will be much less expensive over time.