THE INTERMOUNTAIN PI™ PODCAST | EP. 2 | HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
The Intermountain PI™ Podcast has returned. I’m Utah PI Scott Fulmer. In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing some of my real-life cases. I will also be offering tips and insightful advice for private investigators and those interested in the private eye field. After almost 30 years in the private investigation business, I have a wealth of knowledge and tips to share. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of help when I first started out. Therefore, I like to mentor and give something back. For starters, let’s begin with the basics: what should you know before you hire a private investigator?
1. ARE THEY LICENSED?
The first thing to consider is if a private investigator is licensed. All but five states in the U.S. require private investigators to be licensed. As of the date of this podcast the exceptions are Alaska, Idaho, Mississippi, South Dakota and Wyoming. But even in these five states some of the larger cities require private investigators to be licensed. For instance, Cheyenne, Wyoming and Pocatello, Idaho have city licensing requirements for private investigators.
Of course, licensing requirements also differ from state to state. Moreover, many states maintain a public licensing website. These websites typically list things like private investigator licensing requirements for that particular state, the status of specific license holders and even if they’ve had any complaints.
Lastly, if you hire a private investigator that’s not licensed, you’re opening yourself up to a world of hurt. Especially if it comes out in court. In fact, in some states you can even be charged with a crime if you knowingly hire an unlicensed private investigator. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.
2. ARE THEY INSURED?
In addition to licensing, make sure your private investigator carries insurance. I’m talking specifically about business insurance. First, it covers liability. Second, errors and omissions. With regards to errors and omissions coverage, it provides protection if the private investigator is negligent or the quality of his work is a disappointment. In most states private investigators are required to carry insurance. In the event that your private investigator doesn’t carry insurance you may want to consider another PI.
3. ARE THEY EXPERIENCED?
Experience is important. In the event that you hire a private investigator make sure they have the right kind of experience. For example, if you need a Utah PI to look into fraud and embezzlement in your business, you don’t hire a private eye that specializes in child custody investigations.
“Experience is important. In the event that you hire a private investigator make sure they have the right kind of experience.”
Most private eyes specialize in two or three different areas. Furthermore, you’ll find agencies claiming to be “full service” private investigation firms. That’s because they generally have staff on hand that specialize in a wide range of services.
One more thing, private investigators in largely rural states with lower populations, like Montana, North Dakota and Utah, often handle many different specialties out of necessity. Specifically, they’re the only game in town. Either way, make sure your private investigator is experienced in the kind of work you need accomplished.
4. WHAT ABOUT AN OFFICE?
What if your private investigator doesn’t have an office? Is that a problem? I mean, is an office even required? In a word, no. Allow me to elaborate. Most private investigators are small mom and pop businesses with a handful of employees. Therefore, they may or may not have an actual office. In my almost 30 years I’ve had offices and I’ve worked from my home. As a private investigator I typically meet clients at their home or office or at a coffee shop. Granted, whether or not a private investigator has a physical office is not as important as whether or not they can do the job. Simply put, don’t worry about an office. It just means overhead for the PI and possibly a higher rate for you. In the end, be more concerned about their other qualifications.
5. SHOULD I ASK FOR REFERENCES?
With regards to references, don’t be surprised if your private investigator can’t provide any. It really depends on the kind of work the PI does. For example, if he does criminal defense work he should be able to provide you with the names of attorneys as references. If she does domestic work, like divorce and child custody, she may not be able to provide any references. For the simple reason that this work is highly confidential. Domestic clients are often unwilling to provide references due to the personal nature of the work.
HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
6. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL
Make sure you tell your private investigator exactly what you want accomplished. Accordingly, provide her with all the information that you have. For the simple reason that, you don’t want the investigator wasting his time and your money coming up with information and details you already have. Or, doing work you didn’t ask for. And finally,
7. CAVEAT EMPTOR
Latin for Let the Buyer Beware. Hiring a private investigator is just like hiring a doctor, lawyer or any other professional. You get what you pay for. Consequently, it’s up to the buyer to determine if they’re getting value.
By way of illustration, if you need a brain surgeon do you look for the cheapest one? Is money even a factor? Obviously, unless you’re Bill Gates, we all have our financial limits. In a like manner, when you hire a private investigator cost should be second or third on your list. If you’re only concerned about cost you’ll find that other important qualities such as reputation, experience and the ability to do the job, will suffer.
In the final analysis, there are hundreds of other valuable tips regarding the hiring of a private investigator. But these seven are important and a good start.
Join me next week for another episode of the Intermountain PI™ Podcast. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast or have an idea for a topic, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, if you’d like to sponsor the Intermountain PI™ Podcast now is your chance to get in on the ground floor. Give me a call at 801.400.1474.
You can find the Intermountain PI™ Podcast on iTunes, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, the Blubrry Network, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you enjoyed this podcast please give me a 5-Star review. It only takes a second but it goes a long way to support the podcast.
Until next time, this is Scott Fulmer reminding you the game…is a foot
THE INTERMOUNTAIN PI™ PODCAST FOLLOWS THE REAL-LIFE EXPLOITS, INVESTIGATIVE TIPS AND INSIGHTFUL ADVICE OF 30-YEAR VETERAN UTAH PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR SCOTT FULMER. HE IS THE PRINCIPAL AT INTERMOUNTAIN PI™, THE LEADING PRIVATE INVESTIGATION FIRM THROUGHOUT UTAH AND THE INTERMOUNTAIN WEST. SCOTT IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF THE ACCLAIMED TRUE CRIME MEMOIR, CONFESSIONS OF A PRIVATE EYE. AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPERBACK AND KINDLE, AND AT BARNES AND NOBLE FOR THE NOOK.
SCOTT IS A RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY ON SURVEILLANCE AND HAS CONDUCTED SENSITIVE AND COMPLEX INVESTIGATIONS FOR GOVERNMENTS, CORPORATIONS AND HIGH-PROFILE CLIENTS THROUGHOUT THE U.S. AND SEVERAL FOREIGN COUNTRIES. HIS ARTICLES HAVE APPEARED IN P.I. MAGAZINE, PINOW.COM, PURSUIT MAGAZINE, THE TEXAS INVESTIGATOR, AND OTHER INDUSTRY JOURNALS. ADDITIONALLY, HE IS A DYNAMIC SPEAKER AVAILABLE TO SPEAK TO YOUR GROUP OR CONFERENCE. SCOTT’S UNIQUE METHOD OF STORYTELLING WILL ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE AND PROVIDE THEM VALUABLE INSIGHT INTO THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATION FIELD AND HUMAN NATURE.
SCOTT CONDUCTS INVESTIGATIONS THROUGHOUT UTAH, COLORADO, IDAHO AND WYOMING. HE HAS A DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO. ADDITIONALLY, HE IS A DECORATED COMBAT VETERAN OF THE 1990-1991 GULF WAR WHERE HE SERVED WITH THE FAMOUS 2ND ARMORED DIVISION (HELL ON WHEELS). HE LIVES IN THE MOUNTAINS OF NORTHERN UTAH SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WASATCH FRONT. CONNECT WITH HIM ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM AND GOOGLE. WHEN YOU NEED A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR IN THE INTERMOUNTAIN WEST YOU MAY CONTACT HIM BY EMAIL: PODCAST@INTERMOUNTAINPI.COM OR BY TELEPHONE: 801.400.1474.