How Much Does a Private Investigator Cost?
A private investigator is a person who finds out information about a person or business without them knowing. These investigators are hired to help obtain personal evidence for either legal purposes or personal reasons such as a cheating spouse. The price of a private investigator will depend on the type of investigative work that has to be done, the geographical location, the duration of the investigation and the complexity of the case.
How much is it?
- It can be hard to give specific numbers for a private investigator. Most are going to charge by the hour, but they will also tack on additional fees such as travel fees, paper filing, etc. On average, this hourly rate for a private investigator can range anywhere from $65 to $200 per hour. There are prominent firms with a solid reputation that can charge up to $400 per hour.
- Average investigations, such as catching a cheating spouse, can total more than $1,500 to as much as $5,000.
- A large forum thread on the website MerchantCircle.com, many investigation services chimed in and stated that they charged anywhere from $60 to as much as $200 per hour. This did not include additional fees.
- PInow.com claims that the average investigator will charge anywhere from $40 to as much as $100 per hour. They also note that the average mileage expense is around $0.45 per mile.
What is going to be included?
- An investigator can provide a wide variety of evidence. This can include video evidence, still photos, criminal records, legal documents, addresses and basically any information you want to learn about someone in particular.
- Before the investigation starts, the investigator will want to know what the subject looks like and he will want as much information as possible, such as where the person lives, works, etc. While pictures can help, specific details can be of much more value.
- When following a subject, investigators will use techniques that help them blend in with cars, the crowd and the area they are roaming. During the surveillance, investigators will film, take pictures and gather evidence of the subject.
What are the extra costs?
- If the investigators have to travel, additional mileage fees can be charged. These fees can vary anywhere from $0.45 to $0.75 per mile.
- There may be some circumstances where more than one investigator is needed. If this is the case, you will be charged for each investigator.
- A one-time retainer fee can be charged up front before everything begins. This can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
- Additional services that cost extra can include cell phone look-ups, vehicle registration search, a criminal record look-up and GPS monitoring.
- Urgent jobs may result in a higher rate.
- If a hotel or flight is required, this can be an additional charge as well.
Factors that influence the price:
- Circumstances. How complex is the surveillance? Do they need to travel far? Is it hard to potentially get any sort of evidence?
- Hours involved. Some cases can take days to complete. The more man hours that are invested, the more it is going to cost.
- Information needed. What kind of information is required? Do you need photos that are detailed? Do you need video?
- Geographical location. With anything, the geographical location can play a crucial role when it comes to the hourly rate.
Tips to know:
- An investigator is successful in finding the desired information 7 times out of 10. For example, if a spouse is entering a private residence, it is impossible for an investigator to find out what is happening behind closed doors. There can also be instances where false information is given, which leads to losing the subject. Even if the investigator is unable to find the information, you will still owe him for his time and services.
- Always make sure that the investigators are licensed and regulated by the state. The will make sure that they follow legal practices. If not, the information they provide will not be admissible in court.
- Most investigative services will charge a minimum rate.
- Give the investigator as much as information as you can. This is going to include locations, pictures, specific details and more. The more details you are able to give, the more money you can potentially save.
- Make sure that the investigator has experience. With any profession, you want to make sure that they know what they are doing.
- Ahead of time, always make sure that you get a contract in writing. This will explain what they are going to for you, what they are going to charge and what the potential outcome can be.
How can I save money?
- When it comes to private investigators, you are going to get what you pay for. Always make sure that you focus on the reputation first and focus on the pricing second.
- Consider doing simple investigations yourself. This can include planting a GPS chip on their car or even having a friend helping you out. In some circumstances, a professional will not be needed.