By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
"What do you charge for your PI services," is a question most of us, at some point or another, will be asked. The person asking, which can be anyone ranging from friend and acquaintance to Facebook group contact, is probably asking because something in their personal life or in the personal life of a family or loved one needs to be resolved..
Whether or not you are a licensed private investigator --and in my case, I am not licensed and I do not want to be-- they may also need information that does not require a licensed private investigator to obtain and the question, "how much do you charge for your private investigation services?" is actually conscious or unconscious code for, 'will you help?'
"I'm just looking around for someone to do some background digging. I have to figure out how much it's worth to me to get the info. ;-)" the person responded when I informed her the firm I work for has a $500 minimum retainer for a background investigation.
When she specified she was looking for, "more than an apartment rental, less than a security clearance," I pointed out that myriad online services are available to landlords. They can obtain something that doesn't go very in depth for around $50 online. That is a background "check" as opposed to a background investigation, however. And again, a background investigation starts with a $500 retainer fee.
"That is probably more than I can justify paying for this particular project and more background check than I need," she acknowledged.
"Alright," I said reiterating that a background investigation is different than a background check and it something you can't just get from a basic online service for a $50 fee.
"Okay, that all sounds good. I suspect it's going to turn out to be more than I'm willing to spend, but I'd be happy to chat with someone about it, and my budget's not nothing," she said. So I wished her well and referred her to the Denver Public Library which offers access to online phone directory and newspaper listings.
"We often to asked to help find someone (their current phone number, current address, reverse lookup, etc.) or we help someone use something like an inmate locator. But as far as actually researching the background and history of a person, that's a bit different and we aren't really able to do that very well" said one of Denver's Central Library reference librarians when I asked. "Our genealogy department, obviously, helped people locate their family and ancestors, but that's also different."
Hiring a private investigator to do a background investigation is the route you take when you've exhausted options like the public library and $50 background checks.
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