Monday, September 20, 2010

Sage advice to clients

Private Investigator Thomas H. Humphreys (his real name - no, I didn't just make that up) blogged a timely post giving advice to would-be clients.

You can read his post here in full but the salient points are as follows: 

1. We are not therapists. Although we will listen with empathy and respect, you should consider speaking to a professional counselor about the trauma you're experiencing, whether it's a divorce, an affair, a spouse's addiction, or a child custody battle. A great counselor is well worth his fee.

2. Do not attempt to do your own PI work. Once you've hired us, do not follow, photograph, stake out, or surveille the person you've hired us to investigate, and do not send your friends to eyeball his driveway. He knows your car (and theirs) and all your moves, and you will most likely tip him off to the fact that he's being watched. That puts him on his guard, makes our job ten times harder, and costs you lots more money in surveillance fees in the long run.

3. Do not confront her. Until the case is closed, resist the urge to call her out on the information we've just delivered to you about her suspicious whereabouts last night. "How did you know that?" she'll say. For the repercussions of this, refer to the latter half of #2. Confronting is your lawyer's job. You're paying your lawyer a lot of money, so don't sabotage their work by showing your hand too early.

4. Keep your distance. While the investigation is in progress, it's best not to call him, drive by his house late at night, or rifle through his trash bin, no matter how crazy your obsessive thoughts are driving you. Keep your contact with him as minimal as possible, and keep it low-drama. Again, see #2.

5. Be honest and realistic about what you want from us. If possible, think in specifics about what exact information you want and what you will do with it. Often, clients become so emotional about their cases that they aren't sure when to quit. Once we collect the damning piece of evidence, or a series of facts that establish a behavior pattern, stop while you're ahead. And then make a concrete plan with your attorney about how you will use the information to achieve your goals, whether they be gaining legal custody of kids, gaining an advantage in mediation, or confronting a spouse in a measured way about a troubling behavior.

6. Micromanaging doesn't work. We do this for a living, let us apply our expertise. If we suggest 2 or 3 investigators for a complicated moving surveillance one day, it's because we really do need them. We absolutely will not nickel-and-dime you. We want to apply the proper tools and techniques to the job at hand, and sometimes that costs a bit of money. Paying three investigators for one productive night's surveillance is often less expensive than paying one investigator for several days of solo (read burned) surveillance. What you don't want is to waste your money by paying someone to perform a futile task. And believe me, moving surveillance through downtown at rush hour is (at the very best) difficult with three investigators and entirely futile with just one.

7. Offer us full disclosure. The more useful information you give us, the easier our jobs become, and the more efficiently we can work. (And the more money you save.) Be sure and get us any information you can about our subject and anyone else we need to observe: full name, physical description, photographs, SS#, vehicle make and model, plate numbers, personal habits, workout schedule, favorite haunts, work location and hours--all that helps us find the subject and make an educated guess about where they are going next. 
Too often it would seem that, to paraphrase a certain former US President, the client is part of the problem and not part of the solution as they only provide limited details, wish to be heavily involved in the ongoing investigation, or otherwise restrict our ability to perform the task we have been set.

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