1. How long have you been conducting investigations?
Note that this question will give you a good sense of how long the investigator has actually conducted investigations and if they have law enforcement experience where they've actually received training in all aspects of conducting an investigation. If they respond with "5, 7, ____ fill-in-the-blank years, be sure and ask if all those years of experience are only as a private investigator or not. At EXCALIBUR Private Investigation, we have over three decades of law enforcement (25 years) and private investigation (10 years) experience and have received ongoing training during the entirety of that time.
2. Are you licensed, insured and bonded?
In the state of Colorado, Governor Jared Polis vetoed ongoing licensure of private investigators effective August 31, 2021 and the industry is full of people who couldn't get licensed in the past due to a variety of reasons. Make sure to ask if they've ever been licensed in any state and inquire as to what insurance they have and if they are bonded. An uninsured, unbonded, private investigator is a train wreck looking for a place to happen. At EXCALIBUR we're insured and bonded and have held state issued private investigator's licenses in California, Virginia and Colorado.
3. What hours will you work on my case?
Never, never, never hire a private investigator who only works banker's hours, i.e. 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. If you've already hired them and can't seem to get in touch with them after 5:00 p.m. fire them. Immediately! Many cases require the investigator to work nights, weekends, and holidays, and can require much more than an 8-hour day. Our investigators work when the case requires it, no matter when that may be. Private investigation is not a 9-5 job!!!
4. What type of training have you had?
Many investigators will vacillate and stumble when you ask them this question and will try to generalize their training. They'll try to tell you how many years they've been doing this kind of work, what they did in the military, etc. If they can't answer with specifics, you can assume they aren't qualified, or equipped, to handle your case. At EXCALIBUR our investigators have trained at the FBI Academy, the DOJ Advocacy Center, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Military Police Academy, to name just a few places our investigators have trained. Training is ongoing as there's always something new to learn.
5. What kind of report will you provide?
No matter what kinds of evidence a private investigator collects, if it isn't properly documented, via written reports, chain-of-custody recorded, videography, photographs, etc., it does no one any good. Many times a case has been defeated at trial due to shoddy or incomplete reports. Unless the private investigator has been trained in how to properly document evidence, they'll fail every time. A good professional investigator will give you frequent updates on all investigation conducted including what they've discovered, and what remains to be discovered. At EXCALIBUR Private Investigation we update all clients any time there's activity in a case and we provide a detailed, written report, that references all audio, video, photographs, surveillance activity, GPS tracking, etc. collected during the investigation. We hand deliver our reports with all of the collected evidence and take the time to go over our findings with the client.
6. How should we communicate with each other?
Many times in an investigation the client may still live with the subject of the investigation. If the private investigator you're interviewing doesn't have alternative communication methods in mind, find another investigator. We use a variety of apps and burner numbers untraceable to our firm as any investigator worth their salt should.
7. Can you recommend a good lawyer?
This question will let you know immediately if the investigator is respected by those in the industry. All good investigators should at least have a few law firms as clients and should be able to recommend which lawyer would be the best for your particular matter. Our firm has worked with law firms all over the country and can recommend the right firm no matter what type of case you need help with.
8. Are you willing to testify in court?
Any private investigator should be willing to testify in court. If the investigator you're interviewing hesitates, even momentarily, that's a huge red flag! Individuals who have presented themselves as PI's may have something in their background that they know will come out in any trial, such as criminal convictions. Without licensing even an individual with a criminal past can claim to be a private investigator. The investigators of EXCALIBUR Private Investigation have all testified in federal, state and local courts numerous times.
9. Will you guarantee your results?
If an investigator tells you they can guarantee the outcome of an investigation they are either lying or have never worked an investigation. An investigator with any experience whatsoever, understands that you never know where an investigation will lead. We guarantee we'll work your case with all available tools and expertise, but we can never guarantee a particular outcome. If the investigator tells you they guarantee their results hold on to your wallet and be suspect of any information they provide.
10. Do you have references?
Any private investigator with a level of experience should be able to provide references when requested. Most reputable PI's will have plenty of clients they can't provide as references due to confidentiality, but they should have some, such as law firms and other professionals, that can speak to their work product. Another red flag if the PI you're interviewing can't, or won't, provide references.
I recommend printing these questions out any time you are thinking of engaging a private investigation firm. I'm sure our competitors will be practicing their answers should one of our readers call them. If we can help you in any way, please don't hesitate to contact us.
EXCALIBUR Private Investigation