Before hiring a Private Investigator, you should carefully note what you are trying to accomplish. If you are considering hiring an investigator to conduct surveillance, you should note how this would be of benefit to your overall goals. Whether it is cheating spouses, insurance fraud, workers compensation claims, bodily injury, medical malpractice or employee theft, there is no better way to document the true facts than irrefutable video and photographic evidence.
Adequate and accurate preparation is vital to ensure success and control overall costs. Gather as much information as possible about the person to be surveilled or watched. Obtaining complete information such as the person’s physical description, photograph, vehicle(s) driven, times, dates, address(s) and close associates will benefit you. This complete information provided to the investigator will save you a considerable amount of money in the long run.
Be patient. Surveillance takes time and planning to ensure success. Get involved with your investigator. Be a part of the planning process and ensure yourself that your investigator understands your goals. Ask questions about the procedures, equipment, costs, and how the results will be reported to you periodically and at the conclusion of the assignment.
In the real world, surveillance is very difficult and everything does not always go as planned. Following someone in a vehicle has its dangers and can be very frustrating. Investigators cannot violate traffic laws. They must keep a reasonable distance from the subject to keep from being detected and yet stay close enough to be sure not to lose sight of the subject’s vehicle. There will be times when the investigator loses sight of the subject and will have to call the surveillance off until a later time. Remember, losing a subject and being able to continue at a later time is far better than following too close and getting caught, therefore alerting the subject and hindering the investigation. An honest investigator will report this fact to you and stop the charges when it happens. You should be wary of charges not backed up with full activity reports.
Licensed and ethical investigators cannot peep in windows, pick locks and enter private rooms or in any other manner violate a person’s privacy. The only events that can be observed, recorded, and reported are those activities that can be viewed by the general public, meaning the subject must be observable from public property.
While we are certainly open to accepting most cases brought to us, we occasionally find ourselves rejecting a case — no matter how much money may be offered. The majority of clients engage the services of a Private Investigator for legitimate reasons. Every once in a while, however, the client’s purposes will be unlawful or harmful (i.e., stalking, assault, blackmail, murder). Here at Ghost Dancer Investigations, we place great emphasis on getting to know our clients. If it appears that the prospective client’s purpose is unlawful or harmful, we reserve the right at our sole discretion to reject the case.
Be prepared for disappointment. Be prepared for the truth. Never ask a question unless you are prepared to deal with the answer. Investigators can only report the facts they observed. The presented facts might disprove your theory or expectations. The bottom line is, surveillance is to verify or disprove your suspicions. If your investigator makes up a story to string you along or keep you happy, then he/she has cheated you out of your money. Let your investigator know that you understand this and that you, not only expect but also demand that you be provided with a complete and factual report.
A common question is why Private Investigators require a retainer before conducting any work on behalf of our clients. The answer is quite simple. Apart from this being a standard procedure in the private investigations industry, it’s good business practice as well. Pure and simple.
By identifying the proposed cost for the over-all investigation and requiring the retainer fee to be deposited “up front,” we are able to work within the client’s identified budget and keep costs relatively low since we don’t have overhead costs like fees for attorneys and collection agencies. In addition, we are committed to confidentiality and it would not be good for either clients or for us if we had to initiate a lawsuit to recover unpaid fees.
In conclusion, remember that good planning, preparation and active participation will be essential for you to receive the results you desire.