Should I Hire A Private Investigator?

As a Washington State licensed private investigator operating a full-service investigations firm in the greater Seattle area, the types of queries we receive for our services run the gamut. The bottom line is that everyone needs assistance from time to time to determine the facts of a situation that has them tied in knots and needs skilled and professional assistance to resolve matters of importance.

Individuals may want to know where a relative or person of concern is located, if their spouse or loved one is cheating on them, how someone has faulted on an agreement, stole from them or has breached their good faith or who is responsible for an accident or damage.

In order to bring a case to trial or to resolve a legal matter, attorneys need witnesses located and interviewed, court orders and documents served on pertinent individuals, establishment of timelines corresponding to prosecution charges and even analysis of client charges to determine where the defense can establish areas of reasonable doubt.

Businesses or organizations may want to verify the claims of an employee candidate, understand where theft of goods, services or intellectual properties are occurring, uncover the nature of fraudulent behavior and malfeasance or qualify partnership or M&A target claims and positions.

All of these are equally important needs and can use the assistance of a qualified, licensed and unbiased independent investigator to provide the facts of a situation without prejudice or judgment. And professional investigators by trade have resources and skills that make their capability to capture information and determine facts that are unavailable to individuals or corporate staffs.

When should I hire a private investigator?

Whether you are an individual, attorney or executive, you should consider engaging the assistance of a private investigator at the moment where concern presents itself. As they constantly reinforce in crime shows and novels, the longer you wait, the colder the case becomes. By engaging an investigator early in the process, you can obtain counsel from a professional who is experienced in leading you in the right direction to determine the facts while saving you time and money. Even if the solution to your problem does not involve a crime, the faster you can get to the source of the concern, the faster it will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

What types of situations should involve a private investigator?

Every situation has a set of facts that ultimately tell the true story. Some of the situations where Coast Private Investigations has brought to conclusion include:

  • Accident fact finding (auto, marine, resorts)
  • Will and testament due diligence
  • Contractual/Land/Property disputes
  • Evidence gathering/Witness interviewing
  • Family investigations
  • Infidelity verification
  • Premarital background checks
  • Missing persons (adult and child)
  • Skip tracing (financial defaults)
  • Computer data forensics
  • Employment background checks
  • Fraud, embezzlement and leaks
  • News media management
  • Injury verification and malingering
  • Undercover investigations/surveillance
  • Service of process

How do I hire a private investigator?

Whether you are located in the area of the incident or are out of state or country, it is best to engage a private investigator who is local to the need. Familiarity with community and geography saves time and money. First, gather as much information about the investigator and firm as you can to ensure that they have the experience and skills to perform the work you desire. Web sites are a very good starting point. Make sure that they are licensed in the state where they practice. Make sure that they are insured or bonded. And ask for references.

Next, organize your facts and thoughts so that you can present your situation in a cohesive manner. Most investigators are very detail oriented. But from their experience they can quickly understand your situation from just a broad overview. You can get to the details once you have determined that you are a good fit.

Have a budget in mind. Most investigators will provide the initial situation analysis without charge. But once the case has been accepted, be prepared to provide them with an advance from which they can draw on for project fees, hourly charges and expenses. This can be accomplish by check or credit card. Ask them about their work protocol (activity reporting, billing procedures, bank affiliations for credit card billing).

Agree on an expected outcome to which your investigator will be working. Your goal is what will drive planning and execution to ensure that the project stays on task and that it is accomplished efficiently and cost effectively. Outline the assignment and goals in a written agreement signed by and within copies for both parties.

How do I work with a private investigator?

Whether you are an individual, attorney or executive, consider your private investigator as part of your solutions team. Keep the lines of communication open and have regular contact (real time email and text serves this process well). But it is important to keep in mind the following:

  1. We are not law enforcement. We have no more authority in the real world than does the private citizen. The training, testing, background checks and certification process we go through in order to obtain and maintain State certification is meant to set us apart as individuals who are committed to unbiased professionalism and integrity to the state and federal laws under which we operate.
  2. We are not magicians. We gather details through available information. We can only obtain it where it’s available. It is through the knowledge we gain in our profession of how best to gather information in a diverse society that provides us with the skills to do our jobs.
  3. Sometimes what we find is not what the client hopes to find. Our job is to seek out the facts that lead to the truth and provide the client with an accurate view of the situation - both good and bad - diligently, legally, expediently and as economically as possible. It is up to the client how the information is applied.
  4. If surveillance is necessary, especially moving surveillance, it must be understood that this is a process of hit and miss. We can agree on a strategy that is designed to gain an intended result. But put into practice, we cannot guarantee that the subject will act as planned, or at all. Similarly, moving surveillance has inherent obstacles and unpredictable circumstances in everyday life that can hamper the outcome. All we can promise is that we will engage proven strategies and techniques that provide us with the best possible scenarios for results.