This couldn't be more of a loaded question. For most companies, a private investigator costs somewhere in the range of $50-$250 an hour with retainers starting anywhere from $500 to $10,000 with the option to increase depending on demands. All of this can depend on the area you are investigating, the amount of experience the company has, and so forth. It really depends on the type of investigation you are looking to accomplish and how much information the client is looking to pull as well. A private investigator that is fresh to the community will not cost the same as someone with specialized experience. The results will not be the same either.
I also want to note the different levels of difficulty with types of cases. One person locate could be both incredibly simple compared to one where someone is really difficult to find. If I can remember right, and it might have been American PI podcast when they were discussing a PI that dressed up as a hobo and camped outside of a paid telephone booth for weeks in Louisiana before the guy he was looking for (who was incredibly difficult to find no addresses and no numbers to go off of) finally showed back up. Long story short, he caught the guy.
Are Private Investigators Expensive?
Honestly, I do not think so. People do not understand that there is a lot going on behind a background investigation than just typing in some information and generating a report. Most information is cross referenced for accuracy and an individual can be researched from a multitude of sources. In today's digital age, there is even more digital sources to check across such as the multitude of social media platforms. People can be traced by various phone numbers and false profiles not to mention various aliases they may go by on the internet.
I can imagine there are unethical investigators out there that overcharge for a minimal amount of work, and I could also see these are the same people operating without a professional license that promise people they can get them bank records without needing to follow any legal guidelines.
PI's use retainers to work off of, it's what all the expenses of conducting the investigation go towards such as gas, food, fee's, etc. A good PI will clearly outline to his client in the retainer agreement what is covered under their system. Make sure when you are about to sign a contract with a private investigator that you understand everything covered in the retainer system. Most will have a clause that will protect them in case you decide to blow the investigation.
In an example, a client may pay a PI a retainer of $2,000 in which the PI continually updates the client and charges his hourly wage, miles, and expenses towards the $2,000 retainer. If the investigation is finished early, the remainder of the retainer is refunded back towards the client as it was not utilized during the investigation. If the client decides he wants to continue surveillance on his subject but has used his retainer, the PI will ask the client to add to the existing retainer to continue investigation. Some PI's may get the clients permission first and invoice to collect the money once the surveillance is finished.
Each retainer agreement is different but should be easy to understand and clearly outline the scope of services provided. Make sure you have a copy for yourself.
Ensure that whatever PI you get, that you know they are reputable as well. They should have their company license number posted on their website or easily be able to inform you. Check it against the licensure website of the state. Georgia State License Search Here.
I have another blog called "Getting What You Pay For" that talks a little more about the quality of private investigators that provide services today.
How much are services from Fox Investigations?
We offer a flat rate which is $650 a day for surveillance operations. Research cases can range anywhere from $160-$600 depending on he case. Each investigation is unique and has it's own separate demands. The rates are extremely competitive with other agencies and are updated to ensure Fox Investigations stays on the leading edge. A case can range from a couple of hours to dozens of hours, but that definitely depends on the client. I have had clients wish for a simple criminal background check while other want to dig up more information on their subject. Clients are always updated through the progress of the case and I've never had a case where I couldn't deliver results to the client.
There are no hidden fee's with Fox Investigations like with other agencies. My hourly rate covers agency expenses such as database fee's which are used to pull a vast amount of information on many of our subjects.
We do not make promises to any investigation outcome, and that is because we want to maintain an honest relationship with our clients that they can respect.