By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
If you visit Trustify’s LinkedIn listing you’ll see an announcement that reads: "Trustify has 34 job openings - find the one for you." Positions titled “Marketing Content Copywriter” and “Content Producer” include great benefits. The listings, posted a month ago, also boast of a new and presumably improved mission dedicated to, “democratizing access to private investigation and intelligences services.” Does this mean the Arlington, Virginia based multi-million venture capital backed tech startup once poised to disrupt the private investigator industry is rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the dumpster fire of law suits that’s been following its demise?
Click on “apply” and get directed to a “This job is not available anymore” notification that was presumably posted and managed by a LinkedIn admin. Perhaps the position was filled? Scroll down to a heartfelt statement by Trustify founders, Danny Boice and Jennifer Mellon. After basking in the rays of their “God given mission” and reiterating several times that they regard employees as “family,” the couple concludes by praying for the opportunity to demonstrate their transparency to prospective employees.
Boice and Mellon's prayers evidently do not apply to former Trustify employees, Matthew Scott, Elisabeth Nugent, Kevin Wiggins, Stacy Blackburn, Bey Wesley, Matthew Blanchard, Bernadette Vielhaber and Andrew Little who just won a $260,000 judgement against the company for several weeks backpay, lost wages, damages and labor law violations. In addition to the most current coverage, Glen Helman’s Driven Forward blog posts includes a tally of all six of Trustify’s litigants complete with type, status, amount and an outstanding tab of $1,627,206.99.
Click through to Trustify’s derelict website and explore the catacombs of the former landing page. The skeletal remains of a footer note the celebrated and ostracized, “$99/hour” private investigator service with no retainer fee. Boice, his wife (the couple is separated now) and their staff sold PI services to people who wouldn’t ordinarily hire a private detective because the expense was prohibitive. Then private investigators with whom Trustify subcontracted took home $30 of what could be as much as a $99 hourly pay. In the era of the venture capital backed app, why not use the Uber model to make ridesharing more affordable for everyone? (As a freelance writer who lives paycheck to paycheck, I can totally understand the appeal.)
The Occupational Employment Statistics put out by the US Department of Labor put median 2018 hourly rate for private investigators in the United States at $27.50. While the PIs that I know, personally, tend to earn more, this was the average reported by the BLS in 2018.
Many independently employed private detectives can charge higher than the national average of $27 for their services because they have more experience than most of their competitors. Some have journalism degrees and others are former police and military. Some even have law degrees and all this is reflected in the price point.
It would be challenging, though not impossible, for a Colorado PI to sustain him or herself if they charged the median hourly wage in a state where even the small town residents pay big bucks for food and shelter. A recent Lending Tree study reported on CBS that Breckinridge, Colorado and Steamboat Springs, Colorado both made the top ten for most expensive towns in the country list. Boulder is the most expensive city in Colorado and with a median income there of $71,540 and with Denver skyrocketing it is not surprising people living and working in these regions need to be charging more and working more hours.
Several Colorado private investigators who were willing to give Trustify a go during their lean times informed me that because the service hadn’t properly vetted clients and provided no reimbursements for travel or database subscriptions, it wasn’t a viable investment of their time and energy. Consequently they stopped using the service to try and find work.
(Part 2 of 2 coming soon)
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
Denver comes in 11th on the list of private investigator salaries nationwide. Does that mean that if you're a private investigator living in Colorado you should migrate to NYC? Not necessarily .
Claiming to see salaries "as high as $99,500 and as low as $22,500, the majority of Entry Level Private Investigator salaries currently range between $34,500 (25th percentile) to $46,000 (75th percentile) across the United States" according to Zip Recruiter's national chart dated September 2, 2019. But where are they getting their data? And how many private investigators are they speaking to? "The average pay range for an Entry Level Private Investigator varies little (about $11,500), which suggests that regardless of location, there are not many opportunities for increased pay or advancement, even with several years of experience" reflects an anonymous analysis on another part of their website. And they may be onto something.
Putting the data together enables you to compare a private investigator living in New York City to Denver and other major cities in the US. Most can expect an average annual salary of $49,268 as of August 26, 2019 and an average annual pay for an Entry Level Private Investigator in the United States averaging $46,587 a year. Does this mean that the highest average private investigator salary in the country is just $2,681 shy of what the highest earning PIs in the country make?
Zip Recruiter's post unfortunately, also falls short in providing the number of jobs surveyed. Previous years' Labor Day posts discussing salary pulls data from the United States Census Bureau and from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide the most comprehensive results however recruitments sites rolling out salary data based on the jobs posted on the site are also useful. Moreover, reviewing and discussing salary with your colleagues is, according to Adam Conover, the best way to bridge the income inequality gap and this is a clip of Conover's rundown if you'd like to know more:
Back to recruitment site data though: if you're following recruiter sites, they update frequently and tend to provide local as well as national analysis. This makes it worth the effort, despite the fact it's not as comprehensive as government sites or sites using government data.
Glassdoor's comparisons, which were updated July 29, 2019, list the average base pay at $53,854 but lists entry at $45,318 which is in Zip Recruiter's ballpark. But GlassDoor provides additional options that allow viewers to compare bonuses and see how large firms compare to small firms. Spoiler alert: larger firms pay better. GlassDoor also offers recent anonymously shared salary reports which, although also unverified, provide feedback from someone who was actually employed rather than something a job poster submits.
Could Glassdoor be amalgamating too many listings which range from topics as broad as "Environmental Health Investigator" for the City and County of Denver to "Cyber Coder Fraud Investigative Analysis" for Cyber Coders. Absolutely. Is it nevertheless a viable resource to include in your research? Yes it is.
Indeed's rundown of PI salaries is the outlier in so far as they actually include the number of salaries submitted: 338. Indeed also provides the unique observations that the average PIs tenure is 1-3 years and hourly averages $23.11 which is a penny away from the Arlington, Virginia average and more than Denver's $21.81 average.
Happy Labor Day!!
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.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
You got busy. Then you then procrastinated and now you have to figure out what to get the kids for Christmas. Too late to order by mail but look on the bright side. Kids don't know how much of your time is spent monitoring driveways, watching and rewatching slip n' fall footage and finalizing the final revision of your witness testimony reports and thanks to a robust children's literature industry --conveniently saturated with an abundance of scrappy, savvy teen and adolescent sleuths-- some kids may actually regard you as the grownup embodiment of Nancy Drew or Encyclopedia Brown.
Read also: 85 years of Nancy Drew detective stories
We recommend leveraging this perception to help with the crisis at hand. In other words, yes literary misconception about the private investigation and security profession are at best, irritating but this this is the time of year to make the most of the trench coat, magnifying glass and fedora. Especially if you're trying to make some last minute, on-the-spot Christmas magic happen.
Read also: Valentines Day gifts for private investigators
For starters, if, in the worst case scenario, you had to improvise something on Christmas morning, you can always grab a boxcutter and turn a cardboard delivery box, pair of old socks and the kookiest witness interviews of the last half-decade into original and memorable puppet sketches for the kids to watch or even participate in.
Better yet, you could track down a couple of Unemployed Philosophers Guild Sherlock Homes finger puppets, pair them with the right music playlist (a simple google search lead us to some spy kids ones) and you'd have the option of placing Sherlock in the show!
If they're totally in love with the puppet theater progress you'll have the entire 2019 season to take them to shows at The Denver Puppet Theater, located at 3156 West 38th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211.
Unfortunately, the local independent company has a real life unsolved crime. Between $300 and $500 worth of hand puppets were stolen in May of this year for reasons that still seem to elude the owners. Who would steal a bunch of puppets from a puppet theater? Perhaps a new case assignment will also come out of it.
There is even a Denver International Airport Tattered Cover if you're headed out of town for the holiday and want to grab something on the way. Additional book recommendations are covered in our books for kids segment in our content partner, Pursuit Mag's article. .
Back to the local Denver metro area, though. Taluah Jones, located at 1122 east 17th avenue in Denver has a cubby shelf featuring spy gear, walkie talkies, fingerprint detectives, invisible writing ink and spy view specs according to a sales associate we spoke with on the phone. They have also extended their evening hours to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate -ahem- last minute Christmas shoppers.
Second Star to the Right, located at 4353 Tennyson St in Denver is another incredible locally owned store for kids. They another shop at 1545 South Pearl if that is more convenient. Their sales associate recommended the new edition of Clue because it has "more suspects, rooms and weapons." It also has the classic art of the original. "The character portraits are neat and art in general is older style which is cool." Almost as iconic as Monopoly, Clue thankfully, continues to pass the test of time in flying colors.
Also worth mentioning is we saw the Scientific Explorer, Crime Catchers Spy Science Kits, were sold out at the Glendale Target but seems to be available in area Kohl's, Walmart and possibly the Colorado Blvd Barnes and Noble.
Although the focus has been primarily on locally owned retailers the fact that we're mentioning this now should probably say a lot about how high quality of an educational tool we consider it to be. One of the many reasons we feel this toy deserves a top spot on our recommendation list --besides what we perceive to be simplicity of the educational toy, we feel it's accessibility combined with the importance of preparing kids for STEM careers so you're not supporting them through their early and mid adult years on a limited or perhaps nonexistent private investigator pension.
Whatever you end up with we hope you'll enjoy the holidays and find us on social media to let us know what you got!
Taluah Jones, 1122 east 17th avenue, Denver, Colorado
Second Star to the Right, located at 4353 Tennyson Street, Denver, Colorado
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