FAQS: HIRING A PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR

What does a private investigator do?  According to the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services:  “A private investigator is an individual who (1) investigates crimes, (2) investigates the identity, business, occupation, character, etc., of a person, (3) investigates the location of lost or stolen property, (4) investigates the cause of fires, losses, accidents, damage or injury, or (5) secures evidence for use in court.”

Hiring a private investigator is not something you do every day and the way they work is often shrouded in mystery.  In addition, since you are probably entrusting them with information that is confidential and sensitive, it’s important that you take the time to make sure that you are dealing with an honest and competent investigator.  Here’s what you need to know to hire the best investigator to handle your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long have they been in business?
There are few professions where experience matters as much as in private investigation.  The skills and techniques of a professional investigator are varied and often closely guarded secrets.  It takes years of training and experience to become a skilled private detective.  When hiring a private investigator, verify that they have many years of experience.  In most cases the state licensing agency is the best place to verify this, see the below paragraph.
Does the private investigator posses the skills needed for your case?
Having a private detective license does not guarantee that the investigator you are hiring is the best qualified person for the job.  There are many aspects of private investigation that require specific skills and experience.  Be sure you ask detailed questions about the experience the investigator has in the area of investigation you are hiring them for.
Is the agency licensed, bonded and insured?
Always be sure you verify that the investigator you are hiring has adequate insurance coverage.  This protects you should anything go wrong that results in any potential claim or litigation.  Any investigator should be able to supply you with proof of insurance. A majority of states require a license to conduct investigations.  You can verify if an investigator is licensed by contacting the state agency that regulates them.  In California the agency is the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services division of the Department of Consumer Affairs: http://www.bsis.ca.gov/

Always be sure you verify that the investigator you are hiring has adequate insurance coverage.  This protects you should anything go wrong that results in any potential claim or litigation.  Any investigator should be able to supply you with proof of insurance.

Are all their agents licensed and experienced?
A California private investigator must be licensed or if not, they must be an employee of the agency.  In instances where the investigator is an employee and not independently licensed, the level of experience could be lacking.  It’s best to always insist that the investigator is independently license with the state to be sure they are fully qualified.
Does the agency have references they can give that you can verify?
References are the best way to confirm that others have been provided with good service by the detective agency you are going to hire.  There are two ways to make sure that you are getting legitimate references.  One is to ask for names of satisfied clients which you can speak to.  While that can be problematic given the confidential nature of the industry, the other way is if the investigation agency posts reference of know clients with the full name and company name.  The best agencies also do work for law firms and insurance companies, so they should be able to list the full names and firm name of these references.
What professional associations do they belong to?
A good way to gauge the quality of a private investigator is whether they maintain active memberships in professional associations.  These professional memberships indicate that the investigator stays up to date on the current trends of their profession and that they have a network of professionals they can reach out to provide the best level of service.
Do they provide a clear agreement of the terms of engagement?
Make sure the investigator you hire provides a contract or documentation that clearly states the terms of hiring them.  Get a cost estimate, define the services to be rendered and in what timeframe the investigation can be expected to be completed.
Do they conduct business out of an office you can visit and meet with them?
It is not always necessary for you to meet with the investigator you hire, however you should only choose an investigator that actually conducts business out of an office.  This indicates that they are not a fly by night business and will be available should problems arise.
Do they conduct business out of an office you can visit and meet with them?
It is not always necessary for you to meet with the investigator you hire, however you should only choose an investigator that actually conducts business out of an office.  This indicates that they are not a fly by night business and will be available should problems arise.

We Serve All of California

Here are a few of the locations where we have helped clients get the information they need:


What people are saying

Thank you for providing me with such outstanding service. I truly appreciate you and your staff for all you’ve done for me and my family…. I’m totally pleased with the outcome and their findings… Great job!

Gerome S. | Retired | USA

I have used Tristar for years. Their response time and results are unparalleled. They get my highest praise.

Robert Clayton, Attorney | Taylor & Ring, LLP | Los Angeles, CA

Tristar found my birth mothers records the same day. I am very impressed with their professionalism and the services they provide. I will use them again for any of my needs.

Dr. Claudia Barne | Professor | 23 years

Tristar was very helpful in my address search. Kellie Anguiano was very personable and kept me up to date with the search process… Thank you so much for your help!

Emily | DDS Student | 2 years | Los Angeles, CA

Tristar is by far the most reliable and efficient investigator we have ever used.

Nicole Young | Attorney, 14 years | Woodland Hills, CA

Tristar in the news

Tristar Investigation has been featured in a dozens of publications, everything from print to TV and radio. Bellow you will find Burce Robertson interviewed and discussed on famous publications such as the History Channel, New York Times, CNN and a lot more.

News Coverage Highlights

Bruce Robertson is the founder of Tristar Investigation, a private detective agency in Los Angeles, CA. Tristar has a 28-year track record of delivering quality investigative results. Headquartered in West Los Angeles, Tristar has branch offices in San Francisco.

read more

Real Life Private Eye

In November of 1999 Bruce Robertson, founder of Tristar Investigation, was featured on CNN Worldwide show Showbiz Today with Gloria Hillard. The report was about an ABC television show called “Snoops”, which was a glitzy send-up of life at a detective

read more
Request a Free Consultation