The Cost of Hiring a Private Investigator to Find Someone

The Cost of Hiring a Private Investigator to Find Someone

It is not appropriate or legal for individuals to find someone, especially if they don’t have proper licensing. There are legal and ethical considerations to remember when attempting to locate someone. In addition, tracking someone without their knowledge or consent could potentially be considered stalking or harassment, which are criminal offenses.

If you are trying to locate someone, there are legal and more ethical ways to go about it. Some options include trying to find the person through public records searches, reaching out to mutual acquaintances or friends, or hiring a pi to find someone. It is essential to respect the privacy and autonomy of others and to follow the law in these matters. This article explains how to hire a private investigator to find someone and provides guidelines you should follow.



The Cost of Hiring a Private Investigator to Find Someone

Can I hire someone to track down a person?

Yes, you can hire a private investigator to find someone. A private investigator (PI) is a professional hired to conduct investigations, typically for a private individual, business, or attorney. PIs are often hired to find people who have gone missing, locate witnesses in legal cases, or investigate suspected infidelity or fraud.

Hiring a licensed PI is typically the best investigation method because PIs have the training, experience, and resources to gather information effectively and legally. They also have access to databases and other resources that are publicly unavailable. A licensed PI is also bound by laws and regulations that govern their profession, which helps to ensure that the investigation is conducted ethically and legally.

When you hire a PI to find someone, the first step is to provide the PI with as much information as possible about the person you are trying to find. This can include their full name, social security number, date of birth, and other identifying information, such as phone numbers, addresses, or places of employment. The PI will then use this information to interview potential witnesses, conduct background checks, and search for the person using various methods, such as social media, online databases, and surveillance.

It is important to note that a licensed PI cannot do certain things. For example, it is illegal in most states for PIs to hack into someone’s email or impersonate a government official. And, unlike law enforcement agencies, PIs do not have the authority to arrest or obtain a search warrant.

If the person you are trying to find has moved to a different state, hiring a PI in that state may be necessary to continue the investigation. PIs often have a network of contacts in other states and can collaborate with other investigators to find someone who has moved or gone into hiding.

When hiring a PI, choosing a reputable and experienced professional is essential. You can check with the licensing authority in your state to verify that a PI is licensed and in good standing. Many states require PIs to pass a background check and a state-administered exam before approval.

It is also important to clearly understand the costs involved in hiring a PI, as the price of an investigation can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case and the time required to find the person. Some PIs charge a flat rate for their services, while others charge an hourly rate. It’s also good to ask about their experience in similar cases and for references from their previous clients.

Hiring a licensed private investigator to find someone can effectively help you gather information and locate a missing person. With the proper training, experience, and resources, a PI can help you find someone who has gone missing, locate witnesses, or investigate suspected infidelity or fraud. However, choosing a reputable and experienced PI and clearly understanding the costs is essential.

How much is a private investigator in CA?

The cost of hiring a pi to find someone in California can vary widely depending on several factors. Some of the most critical factors that can affect the cost of an investigation include the type of investigation, the location, experience, and qualifications of the investigator.

One of the most significant factors that can affect the cost of an investigation is the type of investigation being conducted. For example, a background check or a surveillance investigation may be less expensive than a more complex investigation that requires extensive research or specialized equipment. Additionally, some investigations may require the investigator to travel to different locations, which can affect the cost.

Another critical factor affecting the cost of an investigation is the location. Private investigators in California generally charge more in larger cities, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco, than in smaller cities or rural areas. This is due to the higher cost of living and increased competition in larger cities.

The experience and qualifications of the investigator are also essential factors that can affect the cost of an investigation. A more experienced investigator who has been in the business for longer may charge more per hour than a newer investigator just starting. Additionally, investigators who have specialized training or certifications may also charge more for their services.

On average, private investigators in California charge anywhere from $40 to $200 per hour. Some investigators may charge a flat fee for certain investigations, such as background checks or surveillance. Additionally, some investigators may charge additional fees for expenses, such as travel costs or the cost of equipment.

It’s important to note that in California, private investigators must be licensed by the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). Hiring a licensed investigator ensures that you work with a professional with the knowledge, training, and experience to conduct your investigation legally and ethically. While it may be tempting to try to save money by hiring an unlicensed investigator, it’s important to remember that doing so could put you at risk of working with someone who may not be able to provide you with the level of service and professionalism that you need.

When hiring a private investigator in California, it’s important to be upfront with the investigator about your budget and what you want to achieve with your investigation. A reputable investigator can work with you to develop a plan that fits your budget and addresses your specific needs.

We recommend getting quotes from multiple PIs to have a good idea of the cost they charge and what they can offer. It’s essential to make sure you understand what is included in their charges. For example, if you are being charged hourly, does it include time spent on reports, traveling, and other administrative work? It’s also essential to have a good idea of the investigator’s experience and specialization, a PI who specializes in a specific type of investigation may have more knowledge in the field and therefore charge more.

How to find a good private investigator

Finding a good private investigator can be challenging, but you can do a few things to ensure that you find someone who is reputable and qualified to handle your case. Hiring a pi to find someone? Here are a few tips:

Look for someone with experience and credentials.

Ideally, you want to find a private investigator with a lot of experience in the specific area of investigation that you need help with. Additionally, look for someone who has the appropriate credentials, such as a license from your state or a certification from a professional organization.

Get references.

A good private investigator should be able to provide you with references from past clients. Contact these references and ask about their experience with the investigator. Were they satisfied with the results? Did the investigator keep them informed throughout the process?

Check online reviews.

Many private investigators now have online reviews that you can read. Check out Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau sites to see what other people say about the investigators you are considering.

Communicate your needs.

Before hiring a private investigator, be clear about what you need help with and your expectations. A good investigator will take the time to understand your case and explain how they plan to proceed.

Make sure the investigator has a good communication style.

This will help you understand their process and communicate with them if you have any doubts or questions.

Confirm their rates. 

Ensure they are transparent about the cost. You don’t want to hire someone who will be just fine taking your money without giving you good results.

Check their ethics

Lastly, it is crucial to consider their methodologies, ethical practices, and the legal boundaries they will adhere to since they could also be prone to breaking laws if they are not careful enough. It’s also important to remember that private investigators can be expensive, so be prepared to spend a fair amount of money if you decide to hire one.

Can a private investigator find someone online?

Yes, a private investigator can use various methods to find someone online. The internet has become an incredibly powerful tool for investigators, providing them with access to a vast amount of information they can use to locate people, conduct background checks, and gather other information. However, it’s important to remember that while private investigators have access to various online tools and resources, they cannot guarantee that they will find the person you are looking for or that the information found is accurate.

One of the most common methods investigators use to find someone online is social media. Many people use social media platforms to share information about themselves, including their location, employment, and contact information. Private investigators can use search engines and social media platforms to find information about a person, such as their username or email address. This information can then be used to locate the person or to gather additional information about them.

Another method used by investigators to find someone online is through the use of online databases. Private investigators have access to online databases containing information about people, such as their addresses, phone numbers, and criminal histories. This information can be used to locate someone or to gather additional information about them.

Internet-based phone directories are another way investigators can use to find someone. They can use internet-based phone directories to find a person’s phone number and address. Some investigators may also use these directories to find information about a person’s relatives or associates. 

Email and IP tracing are other methods that investigators can use to find someone online. By tracing an email address or IP address, a private investigator can determine the location and ownership of an email or IP address. This can be useful in tracking down someone who may be hiding their identity or location online.

Background check is another method that investigators can use to find someone online. Some investigators use various public records and background check services to gather more information on a person. This can include criminal records, property ownership, and business affiliations, which can also help locate a person.

While these methods can be effective, it’s important to note that they are not foolproof, and investigators cannot guarantee that they will find the person you are looking for or that the information they find is accurate. Additionally, certain information, such as social media accounts, may be private and, therefore, not accessible to the public.

It’s also important to consider that not all online information is publicly available. Some investigators may use methods regarded as unethical or illegal, such as hacking, to gain access to private information. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the investigator you hire is licensed and follows legal and ethical guidelines when conducting their investigation.

What can a private investigator find on you?

A private investigator (PI) can find various information on an individual, depending on the specific methods and resources they use. Some standard techniques used by “PI to find a person” include:

  • Public records search: PIs can access a wide range of public records, including criminal records, court records, and property records, to gather information on an individual’s background, financial status, and past legal issues.
  • Surveillance: PIs may use techniques such as tailing a subject or setting up cameras to gather information on an individual’s activities and movements. This can be useful in cases involving infidelity, child custody disputes, or worker’s compensation claims.
  • Interviews: PIs may interview people who know the subject, such as friends, family, and coworkers, to gather information about their behavior and character.
  • Social media investigation: PIs can also use social media and online search engines to gather information about an individual, including their interests, relationships, and activities.
  • Database searches: PIs can also access a variety of online databases, such as those containing information on vehicles, licenses, and professional licenses, to gather more information about the subject

It’s important to note that the information that a private investigator can find is limited by the legal restrictions of the area the investigation is happening. For example, a PI is not allowed to hack into an individual’s computer or phone or to break into their home to gather information.

PIs are also generally not allowed to use wiretapping or other forms of electronic surveillance without a court order. Additionally, it’s essential to understand that the law regulates PIs. Hence they cannot go beyond their legal boundaries or use information obtained illegally, which will be considered evidence in court and may be dismissed.

It’s also worth noting that while a PI may be able to find a large amount of information on an individual, it’s ultimately up to the discretion of the person or organization hiring the PI as to what information is acted upon and how it’s used.

Private investigators may only sometimes be licensed, insured, or trained, which may lead them to fail to meet the expectations of their clients or even to take illegal or unethical actions. If you’re considering hiring a PI, it’s essential to do your research and make sure that the investigator you’re considering is licensed and insured and that they have a good reputation in the industry.

How much is a private investigator? 

The cost of hiring a private investigator can vary widely depending on the specific services you require and the location of the investigation. Private investigators generally charge by the hour, ranging from $40 to $200 per hour. Some investigators may offer a flat-rate pricing for certain services, such as background checks or surveillance.

Hourly rates for private investigators can vary based on factors such as the investigator’s level of experience, the case’s complexity, and the investigation’s location. For example, investigators in major cities tend to charge more than those in smaller towns due to the higher cost of living. Additionally, investigators specializing in certain areas, such as surveillance or forensic accounting, may charge higher rates than those offering more general services.

Many private investigators offer a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and provide an estimate of the cost. It is essential to be upfront and honest with your investigator during the consultation so they can give you an accurate appraisal.

When hiring a private investigator, it’s essential to ask about their qualifications and experience to ensure they are the right fit for your case. It would help if you also asked about their fees and whether they have a contract outlining the investigation’s terms.

It’s important to note that some private investigators offer fixed pricing for specific services such as background checks, GPS tracking, and surveillance.

Note that some investigators may charge additional fees for expenses such as travel, equipment, and data analysis. These additional expenses can add a significant amount to the overall cost of the investigation, so be sure to ask your investigator about these costs in advance.

Another important aspect is that certain types of investigations, such as those concerning infidelity or investigating missing person cases, tend to take longer. This can drive up the cost of the investigation. Also, specific tasks, such as GPS tracking, can be the fixed rate, regardless of how long the investigation takes.

Overall, it’s important to research and shop around before hiring a PI to find a person. It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple investigators and compare their qualifications, experience, and fees to find the best fit for your case and budget.

How do you know an experienced private investigator?

There are a few ways to determine if a private investigator is experienced:

  1. Check for credentials: Many states require private investigators to be licensed. You can check with your state’s licensing agency to see if an investigator is adequately licensed and if there are any complaints or disciplinary actions against them. In addition, some investigators may have professional certifications from organizations such as the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI) or the International Association of Private Investigators (IAPI).
  2. Look for experience: Find out how long the investigator has been in business. An experienced investigator will likely have been in the industry for several years and will be able to demonstrate a wide range of experience in different areas of investigation. Also, you can check out their portfolio if they have one and ask if they have any specialties or expertise in the area you need help with.
  3. Ask for references: A reputable investigator should be willing to provide you with references from past clients. Contact these references and ask them about their experience with the investigator. Were they satisfied with the results? Did the investigator keep them informed throughout the process?
  4. Review online reviews and testimonials, but rely on them sparingly. Some reviews may be genuine, or the PI could buy them.
  5. Lastly, meeting the investigator or scheduling a call may be beneficial. This can give you a sense of their experience, professionalism, and communication skills.

It’s important to remember that an experienced investigator may be the best fit for your case, as they may have expertise in a different area of investigation. It’s best to have a clear picture of what you need and look for an investigator with relevant experience and a good fit for your needs. 


In conclusion, the cost of hiring a private investigator can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of investigation, the location, and the experience and qualifications of the investigator. It’s important to remember when budgeting for a private investigator, you should be prepared for the investigation to take longer and cost more than you initially expected.

It is best to have a clear picture of your needs and your budget and discuss them with the investigator before hiring them to ensure that you are comfortable with their rate or if they can work with your budget.

Our Private investigation firm has the best network of former DEA, FBI, IRS, and Secret Service agents dedicated to ensuring your investigation is successful. Want to hire a private investigator to find someone? We are ready to help you with your case, and you can contact us at 1-800-577-1080 or fill out our web form for immediate help.

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