Many Investigators Forget “WHY?”

What are Some Tips on How to be a Great Private Investigator?

Walking into my first day on the job. “I’m a Private Investigator!”, I thought to myself as I had my morning cup of coffee and an office shared with another professional. “How do I do this? What are some tips on how to be a great private investigator?” Well, I just started to listen. I became a sponge in the office over the next several weeks as I awaited my PI card in order to work the cases on my own. I compiled a few case reports and had them reviewed prior to submittal, so the company could gauge my intellectual and professional ability in the world of private investigations. At night I would YouTube videos on “How to be an excellent Private Investigator” or “What are some tips for conducting Private Investigations?” The videos were descriptive and would give you hints on the ‘how to’, but they wouldn’t preface it with the “Why?” “Why am I conducting this investigation?” “Why is this person wanting this specific service?”

In many cases the why is extremely important. I came to find that not every client has the best of intentions, nor has the reason for the investigation whatsoever. “Why are you searching for this person?” “Why is this information important to you,” and the big one here… “Are you legally able as a Client to hire a private investigator to find this person, place, or thing for you; without fear of reprisal or legal action taken against you.” This one was a big one, and within the first year of conducting investigations, I soon realized that not every Client is exactly forthcoming with the “why”.

My first year of case work was insightful, I worked various case types and learned how to grease a squeaky wheel. When a case would come in, it wouldn’t always have the action plan that best suited a client. The stories may change, information given to the first point of contact, or in this case, the person analyzing the case and client issue may have missed something very important.  This is where I would analyze the case AND client to get a better feel for the case itself. Speaking to an investigator may sometimes be difficult for a person. They may feel shame, or blame for something they’ve done, leading them to not divulge all the information they have.

And we begin… Years ago I had a client that had brought their case to our attention. We analyzed the situation, and found that the client was wanting to know where his wife and kids were now living. She had been on the run and to thicken the plot, an exotic dancer. They were estranged, recently divorced and living in two separate homes. She hadn’t wanted the client to know where she lived (as told by the client) and this is where the WHY really stood out for me. It took me some time to analyze the Client and get his perspective. After doing some due diligence on the specific case, I had what I was after. This was my “aha” moment, if you will. The client had a past of abuse, and the child and mother were attempting to live a life without the client being in touch with her.

They of course were in and out of court, but what I had found broke the case for not only the client, but the company as well. A no-contact order was in place, and by law, there cannot be 3rd party contact at all. The client was confronted about the matter and had stated that he himself had an attorney but was reaching out on his own behalf. It was unknown if the client knew about this in legality, but nonetheless, the case was discontinued. Surely if the attorney knew that he had retained our services, he would have advised against the matter.

You see, in some cases, this is where an investigation agency needs to shield themselves from clients, legality issues, and the time spent on a case matter. Many investigation firms require a retainer for this very reason. To protect the time spent on a case and an agreement to supplement the retainer on file for the time set on the case, client or other parties involved.

The WHY is very important and should always be an integral part of your analysis of any case and client. Shield yourself from the unknown and be in know.

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