It's interesting to sit back and monitor the habits of how most people come to solve their problems. Typically, I will notice that individuals will do everything they can to figure it out themselves first. In terms of private investigation DIY, it's easy for this individual to easily get involved doing something illegal. Once they have exhausted all avenues of finding out something themselves, they will reach out to a friend, who will generally have background experience in what they have gone through or some form of expertise. If that hasn't solved the problem or directed them to a professional they then seek out the internet to hunt the lowest bidder.
Find a local private investigator.
This means going out and trying to find the solution for your problem by paying the smallest amount of money. There are numerous automated background check systems and "uber" like private investigation services. Which boasts no retainer usage and "highly trained" private investigation. I will tell you right now, that I've spent over ten years with the special operations community and would consider myself "highly trained" in the aspect of private investigation, particularly surveillance and intelligence gathering.
Automated private investigation systems charge over $70+ and hour to clients and pays out $30 an hour to investigators.
You would be better off paying a private investigator directly $70+ an hour under their own retainer system. You're going to pay the same amount (in most cases), but get far better results.
Pull up Google Maps, Search "Private Investigator", and ask those agencies in your area for a free consultation right now.
You wouldn't catch me with anywhere near the equipment I normally use for a $30 an hour payout for this line of work. Data forensic equipment easily costs an investigator over $10k, and good field surveillance equipment can exceed that between surveillance equipment, camera systems (with a lens comparable to my long rifle), vehicles (various depending on situation), radio systems, guillie suit (yes, I use my sniper top from my military days) etc. Which means, other people aren't going above and beyond for $30 an hour either. That or their definition of, "going above and beyond", isn't what mine is. Then again, I modeled my business to yield exceptional customer service and results clients can depend on.
The local farmers market.
Private Investigation is a lot like the difference between going to K-Mart and the local farmers market. It's comparing mass market automated crap, and local expertise. If you want quality private investigation work, you will have to pay the money with a quality organization that is backed with experience. You may be surprised, it's more affordable than you may think. Paying money can be painful yes, but more often than not, it's worth what you pay for. Then again, what is the truth worth to you? There are easily cases that cost a client $13k that saved them $20 million a year. Each case is different. If using an uber sevice of private investigators appeals to your case, using an app or automated service may be good enough for you. Again, you're paying the same amount of money in most cases, so why not get local expertise and get better results?
I can tell you there is a night and day experience from these budget companies and reputable private investigation agencies. A background check you get online for $19.99 will NOT be the same experience you get than when clients have come to me. The results are up to date, they are accurate, and they are guided to ensure all laws are followed with the utmost professionalism and the best of their company in mind. The same goes for providing other investigations. I don't overcharge for my services, but I do charge what they are worth. Every client I have had has been satisfied because they know when they do service with us, they are getting the absolute best. Again, comparing an old Ford Fiesta, to an Aston Martin or Ferrari.
So before you go out and waste hours of your time spending $20 here or finding the "cheapest" option. Contact a private investigator, and ask for a free consultation. Get an idea of what getting real answers for your case would cost you. In many cases, the investment of a good private investigator, is worth what you were standing to lose.
What is your peace of mind worth?