I am often asked what is the most prevalent reason someone wants to hire a private investigator (PI).  The answer is as broad and open ended as the question.  This article is intended to provide some general insight with regard to selecting the right private investigator for your case.

The PI’s job is to gather unbiased facts and develop leads. I have developed a process by which to obtain information called the C.O.D. Approach: CONFIRM, OBTAIN AND DEVELOP.

For the purposes of this article the individual or company being investigated will hereafter be referred to as the “subject” and the individual or company hiring the private investigator will hereafter will be referred to as the “client”.

  1. WHY HIRE A PI: Generally clients who hire private investigators in family law cases want confirmation and validation that their suspicions are correct.     It is important that the client understands their motives and has clear objectives as to what they hope to achieve.  The investigative report may provide the client with peace of mind to move forward.  A definitive report by a PI can give closure to the client and provide valuable insight into the subject’s activities and financial affairs.
  1. HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FOR YOUR CASE: Google is the most effective tool to locate a firm in your area. After narrowing your search choose a few firms to interview and possibly include one you may have heard of.  If you have no idea which firm is best suited for your case, interview a few firms to determine which one seems most fitting.   When deciding on firms ensure they are fully licensed and insured.   Similar to many law firms, Private Investigative firms specialize in various areas of investigations such as Insurance Fraud, Corporate Fraud, Retail Fraud and Legal Investigations.  Ensure you choose a firm that specializes in family law and domestic issues.  The client must decide if it is more beneficial to hire a large, medium, small or sole proprietor investigation company.   Most PI firms ask for a retainer.  Know your budget and make it clear that this is what you are prepared to spend.  Request the firm to keep you updated as the case develops.  If half way through the budget there are no results forthcoming, re evaluate the case.
  1. KNOW AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ABOUT THE SUBJECT PRIOR TO STARTING AN INVESTIGATION: In order to maximize the success of your case gather as much background information as possible such as: a photo of the subject, their current and previous addresses, license plate and car make/model, habits, general daily routines, place of employment, favorite restaurants/bars, financial and banking details (including things such as VISA statements, etc). In order to cut down on the costs involved in the case, it is beneficial that the client have as much information and documentation in their possession prior to meeting the PI. Never give up the original documentation, always provide copies.
  1. GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT: The PI will rely heavily on the initial information provided.  It is important to be accurate and concise in the details provided to the investigator as the smallest inaccuracy can lead that investigator in the wrong direction.  Keep the investigation focused on the most important issues or concerns.
  1. FOLLOW THE MONEY: Another important reason client’s hire PI’s is to find out if the other spouse is hiding assets, living a luxurious lifestyle and to prove to the courts inaccuracies in the subjects reporting of financial affairs. This is especially true where the subject may be self employed and under reporting their income or has other financial dealings not being disclosed. The investigator may choose to do surveillance in combination with background investigations.  Should the information obtained identify the subject hiding assets a forensic accountant should be consulted for more detailed information.

**This article was written for the purposes of providing a general guideline to clients who may be contemplating hiring a PI.

[su_heading style=”default” size=”13″ align=”left” margin=”20″ class=””]Rhonda Snyder, B.A. L.L.A.D., is a former board member of the Toronto Chapter of ASIS, retired Private Investigator Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, National Co-coordinator for the Special Investigations Unit and former Equifax Investigator.  She has had the opportunity to work in all aspects of Private Investigation work including implementing
and managing Mutual Of Omaha’s in house Special Investigations Unit.   As a Law Clerk/Private Investigator she worked directly with law firms, Corporations and Insurance Companies in all aspects involving private investigative work. To get in touch with Rhonda, please send her an email at rhondasnyderconsulting@gmail.com.[/su_heading]