To begin, before we deconstruct all the risks of hiring a private investigator, let’s define the circumstances in which you could truly require one. At times, you may be able to resolve your issue by utilizing simple spy gears that are easily available in the market or on amazon, but other times, you will require the assistance of a qualified private investigator.
Several circumstances in which a private investigator will undoubtedly assist include the following:
- Locating undiscovered goods and property
- Attempting to locate a missing person
- Conducting background checks
- Evidence collection
These are just a few of the circumstances in which you might require the services of a private investigator, and we’re convinced that they can provide other specialized services.
Pros and Cons of hiring a private investigator
Private investigators are government-licensed to obtain information. They are aware of what is permissible under the law. Hiring a private investigator might assist in mitigating the dangers associated with the investigations. You may have concrete evidence, but the court will be unable to use it because you lack the necessary licensing. Not only would hiring a private investigator help to avoid dangers, but the investigators can also testify in your favor. The investigator’s information will be deemed more credible and can be used to your advantage.
One disadvantage of hiring a private investigator is the financial aspect. In most circumstances, private investigators will take an extended period of time to complete the project. The longer it takes the investigator to complete the assignment, the more money you’ll have to pay. In certain instances, the inquiries are fruitless. This will be detrimental to your wallet, as you have already spent the money and have not received what you were seeking. A further disadvantage of employing a private investigator is the possibility of receiving substandard service. Bear in mind that not all private investigators will perform their duties as planned. Certain investigators will sleep on the job and will not assist you in resolving your issues.
The risks of hiring a private investigator:
While we have written extensively about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a private investigator, there are certain inherent risks of hiring a private investigator that you may not have considered.
Suppose you obtain the necessary evidence or knowledge. Before acting on it, you should determine its reliability. If the evidence is required to advance specific legal proceedings, you must determine its credibility and of course, determine whether it is admissible in court.
Another circumstance in which reliability may be questioned is when you do not know the complete picture. Simply because the investigator established that a stranger left the house while you were away does not necessarily signify that your husband is cheating on you.
This relates to our previous advice – avoid making quick decisions and provide your PI with detailed information about your objectives. Facts may not always imply a causal relationship, and uncontextualized evidence is not always credible. It is one of the biggest risks of hiring a private investigator.
Another consideration if you want to minimize discontent is the worth of the information you’re paying for. Simply ask yourself, “Is the investment in the investigation worthwhile?” Will it resolve your issue if the private investigator obtains the evidence you seek? Finally, are you capable of resolving the issue on your own?
The danger we’re referring to here is getting taxed for something that offers little in return. Always evaluate the importance of the information you’re attempting to obtain and be truthful to yourself.
If it turns out to be far more expensive than you anticipated, you generally do not need to engage a professional investigator. Although the majority of PIs will explain why they charge a certain amount and you should not haggle if a fee is excessive, you should ask yourself again: “Is it worth it for me?”
Lack of Evidence
You may require evidence that your ex is concealing money, that your legal adversary colluded with your rival, or that particular testimony was fraudulent. However, there are occasions when you must deal with negative truths; your ex is concealing money, the competition was collaborating against you, and the evidence was true. Unlike in the movies, these events do not always end happily.
Lack of Expertise
Another one of the risks of hiring a private investigator is that numerous investigators pride themselves in their ability to be all things to all people, citing their experience in everything from executive protection to bomb-sniffing dogs to cyber investigations and computer forensics to lie detection and questioning skills. It is physically impossible to excel at everything.
Liable for Illegal Actions
Numerous instances exist of investigators supplying unlawful information to their clients, which ultimately resulted in their demise. A few years ago, a Massachusetts lady who engaged a Virginia private investigator to locate hidden assets had her case dismissed because the private investigator’s “evidence” on certain offshore bank accounts “did not exist and was ‘manufactured’ for profit.” This is one of the most important risks to consider before hiring a private investigator.
When you employ an accountant to prepare your taxes, you anticipate that they will be completed upon his completion. However, you can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a private investigator and still end up where you started—with a lack of understanding. Consider this before hiring a private investigator.
While secret sources may sound exciting, they add issues of reliability into a study. If the hidden source cannot be independently reviewed or validated, it is impossible to verify whether the information was received unlawfully, under dubious circumstances, or as a figment of someone’s imagination.
If a person hires a private investigator directly (rather than through an attorney), the private investigator’s emails, text messages, reports, surveillance tapes, and notebooks are not privileged. Through the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product, hiring a private investigator through an attorney establishes protections.
No Support from Attorney
We’ve seen some clients take matters into their own hands and engage a private investigator without the assistance of an attorney throughout the years. If your attorney is opposed, you are most likely wasting your time.
Lack of Scope
When I ask prospective clients “What are you looking for?” they respond, “Everything!” I am aware that we may have an issue, in part because determining “everything” may cost approximately half a million. Defining the scope of work at the start of an inquiry is critical for keeping things on track and avoiding surprises later.
Are you hiring a licensed private investigator in your state? Or is it someone who is merely promoting their services as an investigator? (Confirm with your state.) Why should you be concerned? You might find up employing this guy, who was not only operating an unlicensed private investigation business but also a side prostitution network.
When you hire a professional to repair your roof, you anticipate that it will no longer leak. However, if you employ an investigator, the outcome is not assured, and you may find up back where you started.
Telling You What You Want to Hear
Not every private investigator you speak with will attempt to talk themselves out of employment and highlight the possibility that you might be wasting your money and time; you must use caution before proceeding. Some will feed you what you want to hear, fully aware that the story will not end happily. Do your due diligence before hiring a private investigator.
Uber recruited private investigators a few years ago for the purpose of “dirt-digging.” To be honest, many large organizations do the same thing on a daily basis. Uber’s investigating firm ended up employing some fairly dubious practices. Although it is unclear whether Uber was aware of what it was doing, the harm had already been done. Hewlett-Packard never recovered from the impact of famously hiring an investigator who spied on its directors using dubious tactics (obtaining telephone records).