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6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR

When working with a Private Investigator, most corporate, legal, and insurance professionals are aware of what services can realistically, and most importantly legally, be provided to them. On the other hand, the expectations of the general public and individuals (especially for domestic cases), are often clouded by misconceptions and many are surprised to learn that:

IT’S NOT LIKE IN THE MOVIES

Private Investigators in the movies or TV shows are often seen putting trackers on vehicles, breaking into offices to obtain files, hacking into computers and cellphones to obtain information, trespassing on private property to get the perfect video evidence that solves their cases within minutes. While all of those things are actually possible and doable in real life, they are illegal in most jurisdictions, and any evidence obtained in such a manner will not be inadmissible in a courtroom. For this reason, no legitimate investigator will ever resort to those methods or offer them as possible solutions to their clients.

RESULTS ARE NOT INSTANT

Another common misconception from the public is the idea that Private Investigators have access to a magical database that can locate information on anyone simply by typing in their names and pressing “search”. Clients are often surprised and disappointed when they learn that in order to locate someone or obtain reliable information on an individual, a Private Investigator will need more details than just a name (or sometimes just even a partial name) in order to conduct an effective search.

Canada has some of the strictest laws and regulations when it comes to privacy; making it very difficult (for non-law enforcement personnel) to obtain information. Unlike our counterparts in the USA, Private Investigators in Canada have no databases to verify license plates, for example. While there are some basic verifications that can be done (for legitimate reasons) in Ontario and other provinces, the information that will be received will contain fewer details about a person when compared to comprehensives reports that are available from private vendors with access to DMV records and other personal information in the USA.

For this reason, Private Investigators in Canada have to resort to other methods of gathering information such as surveillance, interviews, and social media analysis. Those methods take much longer and as consequence, can cost much more than quick and simple background checks in the USA.

IT CAN GET COSTLY … BUT IT’S A WORTHY INVESTMENT

Like with any other profession, Private Investigators are hired for their knowledge and expertise in a specific field. The value and the exclusivity of their skills will determine the amounts they will charge. 

Clients are often surprised by how much it costs to hire a Private Investigator in Ottawa with prices generally ranging from 65$ to 150$ per hour and more depending on the location and the investigator’s experience. And while it can seem like a costly affair in the short term, the benefits of the evidence and the information that can be obtained by the investigator, can save a significantly larger amount of money for the client in the long run; making it a wise investment for certain types of cases.

RESULTS CAN NOT BE GUARANTEED

While a good Private Investigator will have the required expertise to maximize the chances of successfully obtaining the required information in the most efficient manner, the results can never be guaranteed. In a lot of cases, results will depend on the actions of the target and not of the investigator. An investigator can be in a perfect position, have a plan and the best equipment; but if the subject decides to stay at home all day, then no matter what the investigator does or how well prepared he or she is, they will not obtain any video footage of the target for that particular day regardless of how much the client wants it.

RESULTS MAY NOT BE WHAT THE CLIENT EXPECTED

In domestic cases especially, information that a Private Investigator can obtain may not necessarily be what the client expected. When clients are convinced that specific events are taking place (ex: their spouse is cheating or that their ex-partner is being abusive to the kids) but the investigator (after a diligent and comprehensive investigation) brings evidence of the contrary, they often have a difficult time accepting the uncovered reality.

Clients may end up being right (as there could have been past instances where the suspected events actually happened) but the job of an investigator is to gather and present unbiased, impartial, and truthful information based on the events that they witnessed or the evidence that was available at the time of the investigation. If during the surveillance, no evidence of adultery took place, and no other source of information pointed to any signs of a cheating spouse, then this is the only statement that the investigator can make in their report. This could be disappointing to some clients who were 100% convinced that their spouse cheated on them on that day.

SPECIALIST OR GENERALIST

It is equally important to pick the right investigator and the right agency for the job. Many agencies and individual investigators claim to be specialists in everything, which is unrealistic and unlikely. To be efficient and effective in a particular type of investigation, the P.I. must have the necessary experience, refined knowledge, and polished skills specific to that field; and this is not something that can be achieved by providing a laundry list of all possible types of services.

A jack of all trades is usually a master of none. An expert will know the little details about a specific case type that a generalist may not be aware of. Insurance surveillance, for example, is different from domestic surveillance. And while one might think that both are similar and thus require the same skillset (which is true only on the basic level); there are different nuances, operational environments, indicators, case requirements, and evidence standards in each field; and if an investigator is not aware of them they may miss some important clues that could be detrimental for a successful outcome of the case. Therefore it is important to pick the right P.I. for the job.

Private Investigators can gather useful information and evidence for a variety of cases, but it is important to know what a P.I. can realistically and legally do as to not be disappointed with the results. A specialized investigator will be able to correctly advise their clients on the best course of action and will also set up realistic expectations regarding what is achievable and what is not in a particular case.

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