How To Choose A Private Investigator

Choosing an investigator is hard right?

You’ve probably never had to conduct an investigation before and you’ll probably never have to again. So, when the need arises, how do you decide which investigator to use? Are they all kind of the same or are some better than others? If they’re all the same, it doesn’t matter who you choose but, if they’re not, you might end up wasting your money AND blowing your chance to solve your case. So, by spending a couple of minutes doing research at the outset, you could potentially save a lot of time, money and heartache down the track.

Contact Us

Are all Private Investigators the same?

Most private investigators are hard-working and honest. Like any industry however, I’m sorry to say that there are some bad apples. Frank Monte was a longstanding investigator who had his licence cancelled in 2012 due to his “lack of moral integrity.” Brett Sutcliffe of Spousebusters fame was convicted of impersonating a Federal Police office while menacing an elderly woman. These are obviously a couple of investigators to avoid and there are a few more dodgy private eyes just waiting to be caught. Some use aliases so they can avoid detection by authorities.

What is a Private Investigator?

A private investigator is entitled to conduct investigations into the business or personal affairs of a person on behalf of a client. Clients of investigators include individuals, lawyers, businesses, government agencies and others. In most jurisdictions in Australia, investigators need to be licenced to operate.

What does an Investigator do?

Private investigators are experts at gathering evidence and information and believe you have a right to know the truth. They solve problems and answer questions by providing evidence such as video footage, database information, expert reports, affidavits or data from a digital device. The evidence gathered might be for court or it could just be for your peace of mind.

What happens if you use a dodgy Private Investigator?

If you use a disreputable PI, you run the risk of blowing your money. Worse than that, you risk compromising your investigation – this means the person you are investigating may become aware of the investigation. If this happens, your case may become unsolvable. Worst of all, someone may put you at risk of a criminal conviction by tricking you into using illegal spyware of tracking devices.

Is it legal to use a Private Investigator

Private investigators are granted investigator licences by the government and their evidence is regularly used in court hearing so yes, it’s perfectly lawful to use an investigator. One thing to keep in mind when using a licenced professional however is the difference between the granting of the licence and the behaviour of the licensee. It’s lawful to drive once you’ve got a driver’s licence for example, but it’s not lawful to drink drive, regardless of whether you have a licence. Similarly, a licenced investigator must act lawfully when conducting investigations. If he or she does not, then there is potential for the investigator and even the client to be put at risk of a criminal conviction! Furthermore, any evidence gathered unlawfully is unlikely to be able to be used in court.

The problem for private investigators and their clients is that the areas dealt with in investigations can raise complex legal questions. Also, the investigations industry is relatively unregulated in certain areas so a few rogue operators can deceive clients into acting improperly. Most clients of investigators will not know the ins and outs of the law relating to investigations so it’s important that they choose an experienced investigator with legal training.

Lyonswood Investigations & Forensics has operated for decades. To get professional investigation advice and a client-focused service, contact the professionals at Lyonswood for a confidential chat today.

OK, so how do I choose a trustworthy Private Investigator?

Firstly, you want a business that has been around long enough to know what they’re doing. It’s easy to get an investigator’s licence but much harder to learn how to actually solve a case. This takes years of practice and ongoing education in investigations and the law.

Secondly, you want to make sure the firm you are dealing with occupies at least one physical office somewhere in Australia. This is a good principle when dealing with any business, not just an investigator, because it ensures a level of accountability. 95% of investigators on Google advertise solely from serviced or virtual offices that they don’t occupy. This means that if things go pear-shaped, you won’t be able to find them to seek a refund or sue them. A physical office means you can serve a legal demand on the business and enforce your rights against them.

Thirdly, you want to use a broad-based investigation firm, not an insurance investigator. The vast majority of investigators in Australia only do insurance work – investigations into the circumstances surrounding insurance claims. Private matters for people like you (individuals, businesses, law firms and others) are entirely different from insurance investigations and are usually more complex. You therefore need a real broad-based investigation firm that handles your type of matter on a daily basis. In any investigation you are dealing with the unknown and you never know where your investigation will end up so you require an investigator with a broad skill set.

Fourthly, you should confirm that the investigation firm’s licence is displayed on its website.

Fifthly, don’t rely on the information available on the investigator’s website. To learn more about the firm, run the name of the investigation business in Google. The name of the owner of the business should be displayed on the investigation website. If it is, run it in Google. The information listed on the first few pages of Google search results will give you an insight into whether there is bad media coverage or other adverse information online relating to the investigator.

Lyonswood Investigations & Forensics

Ultimately, the choice is easy. Lyonswood Investigations has operated continuously for 37 years. From a physical head office, Lyonswood conducts investigations around Australia and across the globe, utilising a network of skilled and licenced investigators. Lyonswood provides the broadest range of investigation services of any firm in Australia including surveillance, database searches, missing persons investigations, background checks, digital forensics, handwriting forensics, factual investigations, bug sweeps, forensic accounting and more. Our clients include individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, multinationals, law firms, government agencies, local government agencies and more. Lyonswood investigators have appeared in the media many times over the years and have a highly skilled team so you can rest assured your case will be handled lawfully and professionally. Get in touch today for a confidential discussion.