A Private Investigator is someone whom you hire to undertake a specific type of investigation on your behalf. No matter what it is you want them to investigate, as long as the investigation is connected to you, or the person being investigated is linked to you. They are bound to find out a lot about you as well.
It is, therefore, very important that you choose your Private Investigator very clearly. Otherwise, a number of things could end up with a compromised investigation i.e. your details being publicized in the best case or having to spend money on another P.I because the first P.I fail to meet your investigatory needs
How To Choose A Private Investigator In Ontario
What constitutes a good Private Investigator? Below are 5 important aspects to look out for when hiring a Private Investigator
1. License and legitimacy
The first question you should ask yourself when hiring a Private Investigator is :
Does the Private Investigator a valid P.I license?
If they are not licensed, whatever they find during the investigation is not going to be admissible in any Ontario court. The Private Investigator needs to be licensed by the Ontario Ministry Of Community Safety & Correctional Services (MCSCS) — the Ministry responsible for overseeing the Private Investigation industry.
Beyond this, they should also either have their own Registered Agency or work for one that is licensed.
So how do you determine if the P.I is licensed?
Well, besides asking them to show you their license, you may need to do some digging of your own.
For starters, every province has licensing regulations for P.I agencies as well as the Private Investigators themselves. In Ontario, for instance, Private Investigators are licensed by the MCSCS. Once an agency is licensed as an employer, they are then required to register every employer under them.
These licenses are renewed every year without fail through ServiceOnatrio. So to verify an Ontario P.I or agency, all you need to do is check their names through the MCSCS database. It should show if the agency they claim to work for exists if they are registered and if the P.I him/herself is licensed and if they have renewed their license that year. Again, every province has own regulations, get to know yours and verify the P.I prior to employing their services. For Ontario, it is the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005
2. Liability Insurance
Much like every other investigation, a lot can happen in the process. As such, the law requires that a P.I agency have insurance for general liability. In Ontario, for instance, a P.I agency is required to show that they have $2M general liability insurance. As part of proof of good faith, ask any Private Investigator to show proof of insurance.
3. Area Of Expertise
Some P.I’s specialize in the kind of investigation they do i.e Cheating Spouse or Child Custody Investigation Before even looking for a P.I, be sure of the kind of investigation you need. That way when you are hiring them, you are able to ask if they can venture into your need of investigation.
Every time you meet someone for the first time, there is a vibe you get that tend to stick to you. In most cases, your first impression of them proves true in due course. Now, as you interview the P.I, gauge if they give off an air of professionalism.
- Do they seem capable?
- Do they look like they know what they are doing?
Ask details of previous work, their offices and so on. Then keenly listen to the response, not just the answer, but how they answer. A lot lies in the unspoken.
5. Clarity on charges and terms of service
Legitimate P.I will have clear figures, or brackets of figures at least, to go on. Professionally, P.I’s charge by the hour, or have a flat rate for different types of investigations. They are clear on the terms of payment like if you need to pay them an upfront retainer or deposit. A contract should be provided soon after the details of the investigations are clarified and a copy provided to you once signed.
What Else Do You Need To Know?
Besides the general terms provided, most P.I’s will charge based on the amount of time it takes to close the investigation. Some cases diversify once the investigation starts and you end up having to handle more of a story than you initially thought of. As such, most P.I agencies have clauses that allow for change of terms during the course of the contract. These changes have to one,
- Discussed with you prior to altering the contract.
Also, there are numerous irresponsible P.I’s out there. So again, ensure that you verify your choice P.I before hiring. This is not just by getting their name and running it, if you can try to schedule a face-to-face meeting (it all depends on your case), preferably in their offices to verify their legitimacy. Then ask all questions relevant to them and your investigation.
Disclaimer: Not all P.Is who own offices are responsible or competent, some P.Is operate from shared offices and are responsible and reliable.
Private Investigator Cost
Private Investigators will charge you differently depending on their policy. It is very typical to find P.Is charging based on:
Some agencies have packages set that determine how each investigation is charged. For instance, if you want pure Surveillance done, then you are charged a specified amount of money and so on.
Charges here are based on how long the investigation takes to conclude. This will not determine the method the investigator will use, and they can, therefore, use as much effort as they see fit. In most cases, however, you will find that there is either a retainer that applies or a deposit to start off.
Whichever way they choose to go, be prepared for other overhead charges that may occur. These may be determined by the location of their offices in relation to the location of the investigation, the amount of travel needed thus airfares and hotel expenses and so on.
Overall, finding a good and reliable Private Investigator requires some level of commitment on your part. For you to find someone who will dedicate themselves to you professionally until the job is done, requires some effort on your part.
With the right P.I, however, you can rest assured that the investigations will be done easily, safely and effectively.
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