Selecting a good investigator
Or... how to protect yourself from an inexperienced investigator
What stops a licensed but inexperienced (or even incompetent) private investigator from putting him or herself on the web or advertising elsewhere and presenting themselves as a full-service investigation agency capable of taking on almost any kind of job? Absolutely nothing.
So, how can someone protect themselves from an inexperienced investigator with an alluring web site?
Don't believe everything a web site says.
Actually, don’t believe ANYTHING a web site says. It might well be true, but don’t accept it as “gospel” without doing your homework.
Generally, the more information a company provides about their operations, the greater the chances they operate in an open and professional manner. Avoid web sites that seem to be all "show" and no substance.
Whilst the public image of a private investigator might sometimes be of someone who moves in the shadows and is very secretive, in reality a professional investigation agency should be seen no differently than any other service provider.
Get details of their experience
Speak to the investigator and get details of their experience. Ask them how long they have been a licensed PI and don't just accept general statements like - "I've been licensed under the Security Providers Act for years." Bouncers are also licensed under the same Act.
Ask them what areas they specialise in and inquire about the investigative processes they would employ in your particular matter. An experienced investigator will be able to respond without hesitation.
Are they licensed?
Check to see that the investigator is licensed. In Qld go to this web site. If the PI operates under a company name, also check at the same site to ensure the company has a Security Firm’s Licence. If they employ other investigators, they need to have this licence as well as their individual investigator's licence.
Click on the relevant button for searching PI licences in other states. Unfortunately, there are no on-line licence search facilities for the Northern Territory. Private investigators are not required to be licensed in the Australian Capital Territory, but most are licensed in N.S.W.
Check out the PI company
Check the company name (get the correct name from the investigator) at the ASIC web site for free and see just how long it's been operating. Click here to go to the ASIC web site.
Whilst you're there, check out "JFA (Aust)" and you will see we have been incorporated since 1990.
Don't be overly impressed by a lengthy police background with only a short period of experience as a PI. Yes, a lot of ex-police become private investigators and it's a good head start. But, PI work is very different to police work. Also, an ex-police officer doesn't have access to any more resources than a PI. He can't use an old police contact for information without risking both of them going to jail.
Get details of their professional indemnity insurer
Ask for details of their professional indemnity insurance. Who is it with, for how much and what is the account number? Most small-time operators won’t have this sort of cover as it can be quite expensive. Any reputable agency will definitely have professional indemnity cover and will probably be happy to email you a copy of their policy.
A few phone calls and some web searches just might save you a lot of money.
WARNING: Before using any of the following PI Agencies, please read this blog entry first.
Sherman Roberts / Parker Taylor / Morgan Turner / Monte Investigation Group / Monte Spy / Spy Biz / Morgan Mason Steele / Morgan Turner Freeman / Kennedy Marshall / Fairchild Kirby / Jack Diamond Investigations.
Check if a PI is licensed?