How to Hire a Private Investigator

by Justin D. Hodson, CPI

You find yourself in a situation where you need help and this help can probably only  be done by an expert, like a private investigator.  Do you just “google” an investigator, call and hire him?… NO!  If you do this, your going to have a bad time.  The following is a simple list of things you should do before hiring a private detective.  It’s simple and does not take a lot of time.

  1.  Make sure they are licensed! – In California its very simple to verify a private investigator license.  You simple go online to the State of California website Here you can enter the investigators name, business name or license number to verify if they are in fact licensed.  If you hire an unlicensed private investigator, I guarantee you that you will regret the experience.  It takes 6000 hours of documented investigative experience to be a licensed investigator in the State of California.  In California, if one knowingly hires an unlicensed investigator, its a crime.
  2. Who are you hiring? -Often you will find investigations companies that advertise all these great services they offer.  That’s great, but WHO is doing the work?  It is important for your case to know who is doing the work.  Is the company ‘sub-contracting’ the work out?  Is the company and actual company or just a referral service? Ask these questions when calling.  If your case will ever go to court, knowing who is doing the work is very crucial.
  3. Do they have the experience? – Private investigators, like most businesses, enjoy making money and when you call, they want your business.  Make sure that the investigator you are hiring has handled cases like yours in the past.  I often tell potential clients, “I don’t do that”.  If I can, I will refer you to another investigator that will.  I can do a lot, but not everything.
  4. Have they testified in court? – This is a great indicator of the private investigators experience.  If the private investigator is doing his job right over the years, he or she must have testified at least once!… If they have never testified before, this is a good indicator that they do not know what there are doing or have been in the game a short time.
  5. Are they insured? – There is no state requirement for insurance.  A lot of investigators don’t even carrying insurance.  If an investigator carries insurance it shows that they care about their business, their work product and their clients.   In the end, at least you have some protection if the investigator screws up majorly.  Most private investigation agencies should carry at least $1,000,000 insurance.


Hopefully the above list will help you when looking for a private investigator.  This is indeed not a full list but it will help you make the right decision when hiring a private detective… when all else fails, Call Hodson P.I.



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