Hiring a private investigator is not something most people will ever have to do, or for that matter even think about doing, especially a prepper! You may have no idea how to start, or even what questions to ask. The below information is designed to help you identify what factors to consider when you decide you need to hire a private investigator.
After the first paragraph you are probably asking yourself what does this have to do with me the prepper? Its simple, do you really know who you are trusting your preps, friends and family to? Your potential bug-out partner(s) may seem clean cut and trustworthy, but are they? Do they have a criminal record? Do they have a horrible credit score? Do they have a drug history? If military what is their discharge code and/or status on their DD214? Were they truthful to you about their military service? Are they a prohibited possessor of firearms? These are all questions you need to be asking yourself long before you show them your crown jewel, your bug-out location and preps.
The vast majority of private investigators work for attorneys. Each attorney has their own method of hiring and usually work based off of referrals from other attorneys. Usually a good place to start is to call an attorney you know and ask for a PI recommendation. We hope that if you ever need a private investigator the information below will help you make a well-informed decision.
Before you hire a private investigator
One of the most important questions to ask your potential P.I. is, are you licensed and qualified to do the work? We would also suggest calling the private investigations licensing unit of your state to ask if there has been any complaints submitted, if they have ever been sanctioned or suspended and what the outcome, if any, of the complaint. Once this step is complete you can be confidant that the person you are about to contact is licensed and has an active insurance bond.
Obviously your first contact with any private investigator will be you explaining your specific situation or need to the proper person. What I mean by proper person is an actual investigator not just someone who answers the phone. You as a client do have a responsibility at this point to disclose the whole story not just what you think the private investigator needs to know. This is a vital step, in order for the firm to properly estimate time and resources they will have to allocate to you they truly need to know everything regarding your specific case. Things you leave out now, because they are embarrassing or you don’t want to mention them, can end up costing you more in the long run. Leaving out a crucial detail can even destroy your investigation before it begins.
You need to know whom you are going to be dealing with at the company you choose to hire. For instance at JB National Investigations you will never have to speak with someone who is not intimately familiar with your case. It is possible you could have 1-5 investigators assigned to your case depending on the complexity. It is important to you as the client not to waste your time speaking to other employees or investigators who know nothing of your case. There should be one point of contact for you to discuss your case issues. If the firm cannot promise this to you either verbally or in writing we suggest you move on to someone who can.
Depending on what type of case you are referring to an investigations firm you should ask for work samples (written reports), investigators resumes who will be working your case and the firms professional references. Again if a firm is unwilling to give any of this to you move on to another private investigations firm who will. At JB National Investigations we are happy to provide you with resumes of the investigators who will be working your case, professional references as well as at least one previous written report as it relates to your case.
Once you have reviewed the documents the firm has given you there are several things you need to be looking at. The most important being the layout and content of the supplied reports and resumes. Did the report only contain facts or did it include speculation with no evidence to back up that speculation? Was it easy to understand and read? Did it look professional? Were there any obvious grammatical errors? Do they have the experience to complete your case professionally? You will immediately know whether or not you are engaging experienced professionals by reviewing these documents.
Once you are comfortable with your investigator you should request a contract. Most private investigation firms do require a retainer and/or payment up front to engage their services. Before you sign this contract you should at a minimum have received a written proposal documenting what the firm has committed to providing you, their hourly cost, an estimate of time needed to complete your case, and a date as to when your case should be completed. If the firm does not supply this to you ask them for it. As stated previously if they refuse to provide you with the information you have requested move on to another private investigator who will. There are cases that have been too complex to give an exact date for completion. You should however receive an estimate.
Now that you have given your hard earned retainer to an investigative firm you should expect from them exactly what they have promised. If they are not holding up to their end of the contract, first attempt to resolve the issue with the owner or manager of the firm. There is likely a good reason for their issue, if there is it should be communicated to you long before it becomes a problem. Should you still not be satisfied we would recommend filing a complaint you’re your states licensing unit/authority. They should be more than happy to help you resolve your dispute.
Now that you know what to ask and what to look for, we want to talk about what you can benefit from a truly professional firm.
In our eyes the most important thing you can do as a prepper is knowing who your team is, if this is how you operate. This is especially important if you are recruiting people you don’t know with certain skill sets you think would be useful to you if you have to bug-in/out. The first order of business would be a background check.
Background checks at times can be “cookie cutter”. You need to STAY AWAY from these. In short what I mean is the online versions or a firm that tells you they can turn a background request to you the same day. You can absolutely get a “background” for $12.95 online but these are unverified and a lot of the time return the wrong person and/or results. We are called monthly from clients who were denied a lease and/or a job because the service the lease agent or employer used pulled the wrong data from a database service.
What should be done, at a minimum, is a database report run and verified through a background questionnaire (which you should be provided by your firm) filled out by your potential partner. If you are going to allow your new partner access to a significant amount of assets or “secrets” we highly recommend conducting a much more comprehensive background.
This comprehensive background should include interviews, credit checks and checking with the local municipalities about current or past crimes within the cities. The vast majority of the time local government does not provide criminal data to databases that private investigators use unless it is a felony offense.
There are another 4-5 pages that could be written on this subject alone. Please feel free to take advantage of my below invite!
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If you have any questions or would like to know more about JB National Investigations please email me personally or visit our site at www.jbnationalinvestigations.com
Director of Investigative Services
JB National Investigations, LLC