One of the first questions potential clients want to know when they call us is: How much does a private investigator cost?
Although this is a very difficult question to answer, here we explain some general cost guidelines.
Hiring a private investigator is much like hiring a professional service provider like a lawyer, accountant or a marketing consultant. Hourly rates are the most common fee arrangement. A professional service provider gets paid an agreed-upon hourly rate for the hours worked and within an agreed upon budget. [See our hourly fees below.]
Some matters that are more simple and well-defined, such as a bankruptcy filing or a an annual tax return, which can be charged at a flat fee. For example, something like a background check or locating a person may have a flat fee. [See some of our fees below.]
In other instances, professional service providers can work on a contingency basis. For example an attorney can collect a percentage of the final settlement or a marketing consultant can collect fees based on an increase in sales. However, in many states, such as New York where Diligentia Group is licensed as a private investigator, contingency fees are not allowed. [In Depth: Can a Private Investigator Be Hired on a Contingency Fee Basis?]
Like most things, you will find a wide cost range with investigators based on location, specialty or the complexity. However, beware of comparing one provider with another on the basis of fees alone. The lowest hourly fees may not indicate the best value; an inexperienced professional may take twice as long to complete a project as an experienced one will. Or you may not be comparing apples to apples.
For example, many firms claim to conduct a national criminal records check, but it’s really a myth. Or even worse, an inexperienced professional may promise you the world, but will not be able to get the information you are looking for. A thorough, comprehensive, realistic, ethical investigation is what you should be looking for; not a cheap, partial or illegal one.
Still don’t believe us?
So, what is the going rate for peace-of-mind?
Background Investigation / Due Diligence Background Check
Our background investigations start at $1000. Most background checks merely scratch the surface of a person’s character profile history. We dig deep to find historical issues, identify and review court cases, scour news archives, public records and archives. We find unreported bankruptcies, discrepancies, secret companies, tax disputes, financial means, legal disputes, criminal indictments or charges of harassment or drunken driving. Not everyone has a history that they are trying to hide, but if they do, we will find it.
Our asset investigations start at $1500. Our asset investigations are designed to dig beyond the obvious. You might find private art collections buried in public filings, shell companies, real property hidden in family names or large inheritances in probate filings. We use a variety of methods and sources that legally uncover asset information through open sources and other non-traditional methods. If you are thinking, “why don’t you just get the bank records”, you might want to read Can a Private Investigator Get Bank Records or Account Information?
Finding a Person
If you need help finding a person, our packages start at $750. We are assuming that you have already spent spent countless hours scouring the Web, spent some money using one of the many online databases, or have searched Facebook until you turned blue in the face. It’s not always easy finding a person. If it was a matter of Googling the person’s name, you probably wouldn’t be contacting a professional. Keep in mind that every situation is unique, but in general, this is how we approach it.
Frankly, most inquiries are not always simple or well defined. In that case, our hourly rates range from $150 to $250. People don’t come to us for off-the shelf ideas. We help you find creative and ethical solutions to your specific problems. If we can’t help you, we’ll tell you. Or help you find someone who is better suited. We are not in the business of making promises we can’t live up to.
What is Your Budget?
One of the first questions we are going to ask you is “what is your budget.” It tends to make people nervous, but it’s really meant to get a sense of what type of solutions that are within your range. If you have a complex matter or you are trying to find someone you haven’t seen in 42 years and only have a budget for a few hundred dollars, that’s okay. But it’s better to be up front and honest with you that you are probably not going to get where you need to be. That doesn’t help either of us. So, do you want to speak to someone? Other references: