Uncover the Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator

If you’re thinking about hiring a private investigator, you’re probably wondering… what’s this going to cost me?

You’re not alone.

Unless your job role or career industry deals with private investigators regularly (i.e. attorneys, security directors, HR managers, etc.), more than likely you’re not too familiar with the potential costs associated with private investigative services.

How come? Because no one talks about it!

Think about it.

If you are going through a tough situation, either in your personal life or with your business, you will perhaps try a variety of different methods to get answers or solve your problems on your own.

It’s not until you’ve hit a massive, brick wall and discover that even a lawyer is of no use to you that you may consider hiring a private investigator. *gasp* 

Let’s say you do overcome preconceived ideas, hire a private investigator, get your answers, have peace of mind, and move right along with your life.

No matter how satisfying or favorable the outcome of the investigation, it’s unlikely you’ll boast about your experience due to what caused you to hire a P.I. in the first place.

Although discretion is important within the industry, being discreet contributes to the ambiguity surrounding the work of a private investigator.

As a result, the general public is left with various questions regarding what investigators can and cannot do and what you can expect to pay for investigative services.

So what does it cost to hire a Private Investigator?

In short – It depends.

Don’t you hate that answer? Bear with me.

This post will dive into the rates, variables, and factors that affect the total cost of an investigation specifically as they pertain to Texas Investigative Network, Inc. Since all agencies are different in size, experience, and resources, there’s a wide range of costs to expect.

For starters, consider all of the different types of services an investigator could be hired for.

Beyond that, no two cases – even the same type of service – are ever the same. This makes the job absolutely fascinating, but much harder to answer the question: What will hiring a private investigator cost?

The type of investigation you are requesting will determine the amount of research, analysis, time, and expenses to consider.

But that’s not all.  The type of investigation can be split into two categories: flat rate services and hourly services.

Generally, investigators will charge a flat fee for a service that’s process rarely deviates from a standardized procedure. In other words, if an investigator knows before-hand the process for the investigation including time required, expenses to-be incurred, etc. they may charge a flat rate.

Need a few examples?

Private Investigation Rates: Flat-Rate Services

  • Background Investigations – $225.00 – $750.00 plus tax for the first jurisdiction searched (additional jurisdictions prices vary based on location)
  • Criminal History – $225.00 plus tax for the first jurisdiction searched (additional jurisdictions prices vary based on location)
  • Financial Asset Searches – $1,250.00 plus tax per state searched
  • Brokerage Account Searches – $1,500.00 plus tax per state searched
  • Non-financial Asset searches – $500.00 plus tax per jurisdiction searched
  • Subject Locates * – $750.00 – $850.00 plus tax

Private Investigation Rates: Hourly Services

  • Surveillance
  • Undercover Investigations
  • Investigative Field Activity
  • In-person Interviews
  • Telephone Interviews
  • Online / Database research
  • Social Media Research
  • Subject Locates *

Okay so what are some hourly rates you can expect when hiring an investigator for the above services?

You can expect between $95.00 and $150.00 per hour for the above services.

Surveillance rates vary between $95.00 and $125.00 per hour depending on whether or not the assignment takes place on a weekday or weekend and the number of investigators working that particular assignment.

Field work is billed at $150.00 per hour for services including personal interviews, in-person inquiries, and undercover field activity, accident reconstruction, accident scene photos, undercover assignments etc.

In-house research is also billed at $150.00 per hour for services including social media research, government records searches, business due diligence, telephone inquiries, open records requests, etc.

You may have noticed the service “Subject Locate” is in both categories.

Let me explain.

TIN’s subject locate process begins in-house and depending on the amount of information provided by the client, the cost can range from $750.00 to $850.00 plus tax (a flat fee). This portion of the investigation includes:  in-house research, telephone inquiries, location attempts utilizing a variety of on-line, internet, proprietary computer databases, courthouse/government records, file leads, public and private records and other proprietary informational sources for purposes of establishing a current phone number, residential and/or employment address for the subject.

In the event TIN is unsuccessful in confirming a current phone number, residential and/or employment address for the subject after having exhausted all in-house means, yet have developed certain viable leads that warrant additional field investigative activity (in-person inquiries to various addresses, leads, stand-by time, etc.), any and all field work subsequently approved and conducted will be billed at $150.00 per hour.  This next phase of investigative activity – if even necessary – will only be initiated with client authorization.

Private Investigation Rates: Additional Costs

  1. Minimums: an agency might have a minimum number of hours per day for the assignment. For example, TIN has a four hour minimum per day for surveillance and investigative field activity.
  2. Travel: an agency may charge for travel time longer than half an hour in one direction. TIN does not charge clients travel time within the Greater Houston area.
  3. Expenses: Mileage, parking, tolls, and lodging expenses, if required during surveillance or a field assignment, will cost you. Make sure you discuss with the agency up front how this is handled and billed.
  4. Clerical: If you require detailed, written reports and video be sure to inquire the costs of each and if they are included in the investigation. TIN provides court-admissible reports and court-admissible video to likes after an investigation upon request, both billed hourly.
  5. Retainer: Just like law firms, some agencies require the full amount or a portion of the cost up front in order to initiate the investigation. If funds aren’t available, this could delay your investigation.

At this point, you have probably noticed that investigations can add up, especially since investigations often require more than one type of service.

You probably will be tempted to find the cheapest investigator out there.

You might even be tempted to pay $15.00 to that online advertisement that has been popping up since you started searching the web for private investigators.

Beware of scams online and investigators selling you an inexpensive, flawless investigation that will guarantee the outcomes you are looking for.

A less expensive, less experienced investigator may take longer to produce the same results as a more expensive, more experienced investigator could have – ultimately requiring more time, more money, and headache in the long run.

Call around and talk to different agencies.

Do your own due diligence before hiring.

Private Investigation Rates: Additional Considerations

If you’re still unsure about the agency you’re about to hire, make sure you request a written proposal / services agreement outlining the investigative activity that will take place, acknowledging case objectives, and detailing the costs associated before signing, giving your credit card information, and moving forward.  You will be glad to know exactly what you’re paying for.

If you have a strict budget, make it clear upfront to the agency you’re considering.  Investigators understand the costs can add up, so the more information given to the investigator upfront, the more likely investigators are to accurately assess if the investigation is possible for the budget outlined by the client.  No matter the budget, TIN strives to customize an investigation within the budget requirements focusing on case objectives.

TIN also conducts Subject Locate investigations on dead-beat parents for the purposes of establishing new residential and/or employment addresses for process service.   When successfully located and served by an agent for the Attorney General, the dead-beat parent is compelled to return to court and/or resume making child support payments for the amount in arrears to the caretaker parent of the children.   Under most circumstances, TIN provides this service to parents who have a need for this level of investigation – on a no-fee basis.

No matter your situation or budget, TIN offers potential clients a free telephone consultation.  To expedite our case assessment process, email your information and pertinent case details to tin.mgmt@texasinvestigators.com, and we will promptly assess your situation and schedule a time to speak with you.