When you think of a private investigator, you might think of someone in disguise, peering through binoculars hiding out in a car. Yet, the evolution of technology has transformed the way investigative work is being executed. Today’s private investigators are specialized, licensed and trained in high-tech surveillance methods to ensure they get to the root of any issue. This is part of the reason why the private investigator cost can range between $70-$200 per hour.
Imagine the hours spent trying to uncover a case along with the cost of all of the equipment needed to do so. Investigative work isn’t something you should attempt on your own, simply because you probably don’t have the experience or the licenses needed to perform this type of work. Nonetheless, the technology and indisputable findings make it worth it.
Data costs are rising
When configuring the cost of hiring a private investigator it is important to remember the rising costs of data. To illustrate, a subscription to Florida’s vital records file cost around $90 at one time. Today, it can cost $90,000 for an annual subscription. This is why many investigators need to offset those types of cost. They know where the data is, and how to access it, they just need to ensure they are paid enough to do so.
Cloning hard drives, other devices and emails is not an “interception” that falls under eavesdropping status. So, instead of using spyware, many private investigators are sticking to forensic acquisition and analysis. This is because it can obtain the same amount of information as spyware without the potential for criminal charges or having the data thrown out in court.
Of course, cloning data needs to be performed by a certified computer forensic professional. Many private investigators have partnerships with these types of professionals to utilize their services when needed.
This form of technology is quite effective for locating a vehicle at any time, in addition to tracking the speed and other items. For example, vehicle trackers can be used to determine infidelity, or even help with child custody cases when the surveilled individual is thought to be drinking and driving.
As a result, the activities can be documented in court. Of course, the owner of the vehicle on the registration must give written permission to install the device. This is why vehicle tracking is often used by spouses for those types of cases.
When hourly rates can go up
If your private investigator finds extreme difficulty in your case, then the hourly rate may be increased. This is especially true if correspondence is needed with multiple private investigators in different states or countries.
If a case is far-reaching, with an impact over several countries and lots of covered tracks, a private investigator will have to increase the number of resources needed to crack the case. There are other items to consider such as:
- Lodging costs
- Number of surveillance hours
Just make sure you have an understanding of the services to be performed.
Flat fees and retainers
If a service is fairly straightforward, then a flat fee may be charged. Some of these types of cases include:
- GPS monitoring
- Looking for a cell phone number
- Background checks
- License plate searches
- Employment checks
On the other hand, some cases require a retainer. You may then get a refund for anything that wasn’t used. If you need criminal defense work, a retainer might incur a cost between $1,000-$3,500.
Technology improves the work
It can take a lot of creative thinking to uncover cases. The types of information needed changes constantly. Thumbing through phone books isn’t going to cut it in today’s hyper-connected and digital world. Technology has changed the way people live their lives. People aged 18-25 often change jobs or work various odd jobs to pay their bills.
Transient lifestyles are on the rise, keeping private investigators on their toes. The most recent and accurate data is always needed. Plus, many states allow people the option out of sharing their information when they get their driver’s licenses or register their vehicles. In the past, investigators could use this data to find social security numbers and birth dates.
With privacy laws, it is not as easy as it once was to access needed data. So, private investigators must be adept at using the latest technologies to help crack open their cases.