How to Hire a Private Detective?

investigation services from a private investigator philadelphia

Hiring a PI: What to Look For in a Private Investigator

Verify that the “investigator” is a registered licensed and bonded private investigator.

Always request the license, bond and professional resume of the investigator working your case. If your need relates to security and patrol services, ask if the agency and assigned private detective are certified and state licensed for these tasks as well as investigative work.

Hiring a PI: What to Look For in a Private Investigator

The private investigations industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Private investigators are hired by companies and individuals who need to look into threats, background checks, and in support of civil or criminal defense litigation. Read on to learn the best tips for hiring a private investigator.

Request an In-Person Meeting

Never hire a private investigator without meeting the assigned detective to your case. An in-person meeting will help you decide if this PI is the professional you can trust to be discreet and competent. Unfortunately, many of the search resources on the Internet are run by marketing agencies who are not even licensed private detective agencies.  They often sit on top of the leads and calls that should directly go to local and state licensed private detective agencies.

Meeting in person will help you make a better first impression assessment of the investigator’s professionalism and manner. You might need your private detective to testify in criminal or civil court. You want to make sure your PI is a reputable representative of your case. If the PI cuts you off, doesn’t answer your questions, or is vague, it’s probably not a good match. If the private investigator does not put any offer in writing, thank them for their time and keep looking for one that will put an offer in writing along with an affordable starting retainer that meets your budget.

Ask to See Their Private Investigator License

Before you hire a private investigator, you must do your due diligence and ensure you choose a reliable and professional PI. First, ask to see his or her PI license, their bond and if in Pennsylvania that they are also Act 235 licensed agents especially if there is a security and or patrol factor with your investigative need. Check their license is valid in your state and they won’t sub their work to unlicensed staff or contractors.

Ask About Qualifications and Experience

Make sure that the private detective you hire is qualified to do the job and does it well. If the person has a website, review it to see if it lists his or her qualifications. Most cases relate to a need for an experienced civil and criminal case investigator. Make sure to ask your PI how many years of experience. You want to make sure your PI is capable of obtaining results and most qualified to investigate and testify relating to the type of case you are hiring them to address.  Ask how many cases similar to yours they have worked and what the costs and results were?
It’s best to choose a PI that specializes in the type of investigations you need. Not every private investigator excels at every type of case. So choose one whose strengths are the type of investigation you need. You also want to know if your case will be handled directly by the PI you meet with and selected. Often big agencies are body shoppers who farm out their work to low cost unlicensed contractors while they bill you top dollar for a highly skilled licensed private detective.

Internet Search Tips

Before you hire a private investigator, you’ll need to do a little investigation of your own. Go online and look up the company or private detective. It is important to conduct the most effective search initial searches.  Be sure to use two or three search engines.

For example if you need a private investigator in Valley Forge PA, type in a search of “Private Investigator Valley Forge PA’

Then check to see if their website domain name actually has content specific to the geographic area of service required as well as the type of case work you need?

Don’t ever select a PI who will turn over previous clients as references, do you want your name and case details disclosed to any random person? Also is an easy pretext risk to your case remaining private and confidential.

Ask About the Deliverables or Results to Be Provided

Whether it’s a report, photos, or a videos, the information must be of good quality to produce the results required for you civil, criminal or security need.  A good investigator will keep you up to date in terms of progress, expenses and results.


When hiring a private investigator, select the middle bid and never the lowest price. Premium rates usually mean results! Hire a professional investigator that has the experience and skillset to get results.

Important Investigations Require Quality Investigators

There you have it! An in-depth guide for how to hire a private investigator for your business.
Remember, in this field, experience, and professionalism span a considerable range. At OPS Security Group, we offer the very best in discreet, experienced private investigation services.
Contact us for more info.

Pennsylvania residents can verify that the private investigator they plan to hire is licensed by contacting the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Private Detective Roster phone number at 717-783-3762.  You can also request the docket number for their license and find this on the PA Court public access system.

Additionally you should make sure the private detective you hire is also a Pennsylvania Act 235 licensed agent if your assignment relates to an urgent security need.

What are the Regulations and Services Authorized for a Licensed Private Investigator in Pennsylvania?




End Entry: Dated 11/16/2023