PRIVATE INVESTIGATION EXPLAINED SIMPLY
What PI's actually do. How long it takes. How much it costs.
What people often expect from my private investigative agency is usually informed by what they’ve seen private investigators do in movies and on TV.
The problem is that I very rarely see an accurate Hollywood portrayal of private investigators. I’ve written about this quite a bit. Most movies and TV shows feature what I would consider a “career case” on every single episode, with PI’s discharging firearms at will and with no consequence.
At one point I was offered a “reality” show about PI’s. I ended up turning that down when the producers insisted I embellish reality with some inappropriate casting.
The point is, since people’s ideas of private investigators don’t often align with the reality of what we do, many of the services rendered by private investigative agencies can be puzzling and difficult to navigate.
But really, everything should be very straight-forward and transparent.
To that point, this post will serve to address the five most common services rendered by the top investigative agencies in the United States.
I’ll define those services, explain what we provide to the client, provide the time frame for completion and (most importantly for many clients) tell you how much each service costs. Finally, I will provide you our different websites that provide further information about each service.
The Five Most Common Services Performed By Private Investigators
As of November 2020, the five most common requests our agency receives are for the following services:
I’ll explain each of these below.
Locating People, Friends and Family
In the early 1980’s, I started a company called US UNITE. That company has a database which has grown to become one the world’s largest with regard to public information. You can liken it to fishing in the Pacific Ocean. The mantra of that company is, “If we can’t find someone, they won’t be found.
The criteria is simple. We need a first and last name. If common, we need ONE of the following: a date of birth, a social security number or a last known address within 15 years.
Pricing: The cost to locate someone is $495.
Time frame: The turnaround time is 24 hours or less.
More info: 888USUNITE.com includes tips, video, a free e-book and guidance on how to find people at no charge.
Reports include a personal profile and a complete U.S. Comprehensive Report (covering all 50 States).
Additionally, all documents forwarded are “court-ready.” Although the chances of you ever using the data in court are slim, the fact that they are recognized in all Federal, State and local courts should speak to their authenticity and reliability.
Here is a partial list of the indexes that we search:
- Twenty year address history
- Obtaining or confirming the subject’s SS# and date of birth
- Name of anyone using the subject’s SS# or date of birth including that person’s address
- All Statewide Real Property
- U.S. Consumer Public Filing Index which includes bankruptcies, notice of defaults, judgments, tax liens and problems with the IRS
- Corporate and Limited Partnership information
- Uniform Commercial Code Index information
- Civil (plaintiff and defendant) and Criminal (Felonies and Misdemeanors) records
- Fictitious Business Name index
- Professional Licensing
- Name and addresses of neighbors and businesses for interview purposes when applicable
- Date of Death index
Pricing: Using our own system, we charge $950.00 to complete a personal profile on the subject.
Time frame: The reports are completed within 24-48 hours and sent to you via Federal Express.
More info: See the background checks page on the Martin Investigative Services web site.
Please note that these last two searches are strictly regulated by The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB Act), The Privacy Act and others.
Pricing: The costs for these searches vary by state and whether you want the search completed in one state or nationwide.
Time frame: The turnaround time for completion is five to eight working days.
More info: See the asset searches page on the Martin Investigative Services web site.
There are only a handful of legitimate companies in the U.S. that perform this service. We have three sets of debugging equipment which are state-of-the-art. They are used by technicians who have a minimum 25 years of experience in this field.
This area of our business has increased three-fold given executives are now staying home because of COVID. They want 100% assurance that their home is free of all monitoring devices and cameras.
Pricing: The cost is determined by the square footage of your home or business. Our minimum charge is for 3,000 sq. ft. or less of your home, condo, townhouse or apartment. Depending on your location and availability of phone equipment in an office building, the cost ranges from $5,800 to $9,500. We receive a retainer for the full amount and then schedule your sweep.
Time frame: The duration of scans typically run for about three to five business days from receipt of the retainer.
More info: BugSweepTeam.com – This website has photos of actual listening devices, a video overview and guidelines for understanding the art of debugging.
Yes, we do conduct marital surveillances and worker’s compensation cases. Frankly, this part of our business has gone down drastically since COVID struck in March, 2020. People are still having affairs, but they are not out and about to hotels, restaurants, business meetings, conventions, bars or restaurants. They are being somewhat innovative in how they are “hooking up.”
Insurance companies, during the past six months, have put the brakes on watching people who have allegedly been injured at work or in an accident. With the introduction of a vaccine into our lives, both of these areas will increase in the number of cases.
Please use caution in hiring a PI to conduct surveillance. You will find a PI on every corner of this country but that doesn’t mean they are experienced, reliable or are considered experts in the family law courtrooms of this country. All my investigators have been certified as experts in this field. Keep in mind, you will be making “life-changing” decisions based on the evidence obtained by your PI.
Pricing: The charge for surveillances is $150/hour, $0.95/mile and we work in four-hour minimums.
Time frame: Variable. However, our staff can respond relatively quickly to your needs.
More info: See the surveillance page on the Martin Investigative Services web site.
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