FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on any of the questions below to expand the answer.
1: When should I hire a private investigator?
You should hire a private investigator when you have a need to find out the facts of any given situation, need evidence for court or are simply looking for peace of mind.
2: What are your office hours?
To insure the confidentiality of our clients and to protect their privacy, our office hours are by appointment only.
3: Can I expect you to respond immediately and at any time of the day?
We will make every endeavour to be available to you whenever you need us, but we also have to work within current workload restraints and staff availability.
4: How can I know you will keep my matter strictly confidential?
The vast majority of our work over the past 25 years has been for insurance companies, legal firms and large corporations and we believed we have maintained a very high standard of credibility and ethics with all our clients.
We prize our reputation extremely highly and would not do anything to jeopardise it. We take the "private" in private investigator very seriously.
5: Is it safe to share my email address and personal data with JFA Brisbane?
Yes. Your email address will never be shared, sold or left unprotected. You will also never receive any unsolicited e-mails from us. All information shared with us is protected and secure at all times with data encryption, firewall technology, password protected systems and secure JFA Brisbane facilities.
6: You say you are a "full service" agency. Does that mean you don't specialise in anything?
On the contrary. We are surveillance specialists and are highly skilled in a number of investigation fields. However, one of the primary benefits we offer our clients as a "full service" agency is our expertise is analysing what exactly is required and then determining how best to achieve the results our clients expect at the lowest possible cost.
Many investigation matters can often be handled in several different ways. It is possible another agency might suggest a course of action because it will be more lucrative for them (and more costly for the client) rather than take another approach which will obtain the desired results at a fraction of the cost. For example, conducting extended surveillance over many days to obtain information is very costly. If appropriate, we might recommend the use of certain equipment in the first instance, which will then allow us to better target a manned surveillance situation.
If a particular expert or resource is deemed necessary during the conduct of an investigation, we will out-source that expertise on an at-cost basis for our clients. It's knowing what needs to be done and who and / or what can best achieve the desired result that sets us apart from many other agencies.
7: What geographical area do you cover?
We personally work in South East Queensland - from the Sunshine Coast in the north to the Gold Coast and Northern NSW areas in the south and to Toowoomba and Warwick in the west.
We regularly engage highly skilled and experienced local investigators in many rural areas throughout Queensland.
In addition, we have affiliate investigation agencies in every Australian state, as well as overseas. Unless you would prefer us to be your intermediary and to co-ordinate your inquiry, we will usually provide you with the details of a local affiliate in the area of the inquiry for you to deal with direct.
8: Is it more expensive for you to co-ordinate an inquiry on my behalf with an interstate or overseas agency?
We will charge you for the time we spend co-ordinating your matter. However, this will provide you with one local point of contact and we will always endeavour to negotiate the best price possible for you with another agency.
9: I want to hire a private investigator but feel I can't afford one?
One of our primary goals for any client is to provide a cost-effective solution for their particular problem. Sometimes there are no time-critical issues involved and this can certainly work in your favour to reduce costs. There are usually several ways the information you need can be obtained and we would be more than happy to discuss these with you.
10: Can I get a signed Service Agreement, which spells out exactly what you will do for the money I pay you?
Yes. We would actually prefer to provide you will a detailed Service Agreement, which will also provide details of what we can and cannot guarantee.
11: I have already picked another agency but just want to discuss some of their procedures with you. Are you prepared to do this?
Definitely... and there would be no cost involved whatsoever. We are always prepared to give anyone advice on any matter, regardless of whether you use us or not.
12: Can I, or should I, conduct my own surveillance or have a friend do it?
We would strongly recommend against you doing this. Firstly, you might be recognised if a surveillance subject is known to you. If this was to occur, it would make it extremely difficult for us to then conduct effective surveillance as the surveillance subject will be on the lookout for exactly this type of activity.
Having a friend or acquaintance conducting surveillance for you might also subject them to allegations of stalking if their activities were noted. Conducting effective and undiscovered surveillance is a highly skilled technique that really is best left to professionals.
13: What if I am wrong and my partner is not cheating on me?
If there is no evidence your partner is cheating, you will have gained peace of mind about your relationship. Since our investigations are 100% confidential, you will not have risked sacrificing the relationship if you are wrong.
14: Is it legal to use a GPS tracking device on a vehicle to monitor someone's movements?
If you are the registered owner of the vehicle in Qld, it is legal for you to place a tracking device on your car, even if someone else is driving it.
15: Do you ever use methods which could be considered illegal?
Absolutely not! It is imperative that, whatever we do, we act legally at all times. We are occasionally contacted by clients who request certain services without knowing the services they are requesting are illegal. As professionals, we consider it is our responsibility to know what is and what is not legal so we can advise our clients accordingly.
16: Will anyone know I contacted you?
We protect our clients' identity and personal information. We will not divulge information about you or the subject of the investigation unless ordered to do so by a court.
17: Is it lawful to record a conversation with someone without that person being aware it is being recorded?
Yes. In Queensland it is lawful to record a private conversation as long as you have the permission of at least one person who is a party to that conversation. It is irrelevant how many other persons might also be a party to that conversation.
Note: the laws on recording private conversations in other states are not necessarily the same and you should seek legal advice before doing so.
18: Can I legally hire a private investigator to electronically listen in on someone else's telephone conversations without their knowledge?
No. That is specifically prohibited by both Federal and State law.
19: Is there any information you cannot obtain?
Many investigators feel that, with enough time and enough money, anything can be achieved. This might well be true, but in most cases, the time an investigation takes and its cost, are significant restrictions.
Police Criminal History Checks: Private investigators are not able to legally obtain another person's criminal history from police sources. However, courts in Australia do make available daily court attendance lists and JFA Brisbane have been collating these for the past several years. An on-line database has also recently been established - see our "Services" > "Australian Criminal Court Records" tabs.
Note: Several web sites appear to offer this information, some even advertising Australian Records and Criminal Histories on the same page. They are either a total scam or will only direct you to, for example, USA criminal history search facilities.
Medical Information: Personal medical information is strictly regulated and any unauthorised access will likely result in criminal prosecution.
Motor Vehicle Registration Searches: Queensland Transport has very strict restrictions on the types of matters where an investigator is legitimately able to conduct vehicle registration searches. In almost all instances, only legal, insurance or accident related matters involving a vehicle are allowed.
Bank Accounts: No private investigator can legally access bank account information.
Credit History Searches: No private investigator can legally access an individual's credit history file. This restriction does not apply where a company or business (which that person might own) has made an application for credit.
Hotel guest information
Driver's Licence Information
Births, Deaths and Marriage Records
So, does that mean you can't help me? On the contrary, there is nothing to restrict an investigator from obtaining any of the above information via other, totally legal, means. This might be done by obtaining discarded documentation or by speaking to that person under (engineered) circumstances where they feel free to discuss those matters. The only caveat is that these methods always take more time and are much more expensive.
20: How many people do you use when conducting surveillance?
In an effort to provide our clients with the most cost-effective solutions, in most cases one person will conduct the requested surveillance. From past experience, one operative is usually sufficient and we have maintained an extremely high success rate in surveillance matters for over two decades. All of our operatives are highly skilled and have a minimum of five years full time surveillance experience. However, it is important to note each matter is different and it is impossible to foresee every possible scenario.
More complicated scenarios, such as following someone from a high rise office building, or airport or hotel usually require an additional investigator. We might also recommend a second investigator when the surveillance subject is known to be a fast and aggressive driver, or they are known to be very surveillance aware and always watch the rear view mirror.
If the surveillance matter is a one-off occurrence, whereby there is only one opportunity to obtain the required information, and that information is critical, we recommend at least two operatives be used, possibly more depending on the particular matter.
21: Do you offer any guarantees of a result when conducting surveillance?
Yes, we are prepared to offer a guarantee of results when conducting surveillance. However, the costs involved will by necessity be far higher than our usual surveillance rate.
If a guaranteed result is required, we will formulate a fee structure that is designed to produce both a result and still be cost-effective for our client.
With all "results-guaranteed" matters, if the required information is not obtained, then there will be no charge for our services.
22: Will the surveillance subject find out they are being watched?
We do everything necessary to ensure the investigation is not compromised by the subject discovering they are being watched. If we perceive the subject is suspicious at all, we will immediately back off and re-evaluate the situation.
23: Do you ever lose the subject during surveillance?
Yes it does happen on occasion. If you have ever openly followed a friend or a relative from one location to another, then you know how easy it can be to get separated. Our success rate is very high, but there might be times when we lose sight of the subject due to heavy traffic, red lights or other circumstances.
24: Do I still have to pay you if you lose someone during mobile surveillance?
Yes. Conducting surveillance is far from an exact science and many things can happen that we cannot possibly have any control over. For example, the person being followed might travel through a red traffic light and for us to follow would likely cause a collision.
We estimate around 90% of mobile surveillance situations result in success. However, we are unable to predict a person’s manner of driver, traffic conditions, the driving style of other drivers around us, the presence of police, etc. However, to successfully follow someone without detection (particularly over long distances and / or under adverse conditions) involves a significant degree of skill and experience, which all of our staff possess. If there is a loss, then it will be a situation that could not be foreseen or avoided.
However, JFA Brisbane's top priority to our clients has always been to provide cost-effective solutions. Each matter will be reviewed with that priority in mind.
25: I have been quoted far less by someone else for the same service. What is your response?
Our fees are structured to offer our clients, as far as possible, a perfect balance of quality -v- price. Usually when you are offered a lower price, so too is the quality of service.
26: What happens if there is a conflict of interest?
If a conflict of interest arises, we might be obligated to terminate or decline our investigator-client relationship without disclosing any reason for doing so. However, even if this were to occur, your identity will still be maintained in the strictest of confidence.
27: Why do I have to pay you before you even start your investigation?
If you are a recognised larger Australian company or legal firm, we will accept your instructions and invoice you for our work once we have completed our assignment.
However, if you are a smaller business owner or an individual, all investigation agencies will ask for payment up-front in order to avoid having to go through the costly process of legal proceedings.
Investigation agencies deal in "information" and once that information had been provided to our client, there is little (if any) incentive for them to pay our fees - other than a moral one.
28: What happens if the investigation costs less than what I have paid you?
Any outstanding balance with be paid back to you as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.
29: How am I kept up to date on an investigation?
We provide you with regular updates by email or telephone after each "event" so you are kept up to date on how the investigation is "unfolding". We appreciate you might have additional and highly relevant information as a consequence of what has occurred, which could affect how the matter should best be handled at that point.
30: Are you able to testify in court if need be?
Yes. We have extensive experience in providing testimony in court cases.
31: Can you work with my solicitor when gathering evidence?
Yes. For any litigated matter, we prefer to deal with a solicitor direct so that only relevant information and evidence is obtained, which also results in lower fees. Your solicitor may decide to protect our involvement from disclosure, or he may decide to use our testimony in court depending on the circumstances of the case.
32: Can you access my partner's text messages or recover deleted texts?
Can we somehow access a person's phone records from their service provider to obtain copies of their text messages? The answer is, no. However, there is now equipment available that can recover information from mobile phones, such as text messages, caller lists, emails, etc.
Mobile phone spyware is also available to secretly record all text messages, call details and emails, which can be viewed via a website.
In both the above cases, you need to have access to the phone. You also need to be aware of the legal requirements of using this equipment or software.