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The Dangers of Hiring the Wrong Private Investigation Firm

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It’s no secret that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of private investigation companies across Canada. A major problem with such a saturated market is that it becomes difficult to differentiate the good private investigation firms from the bad.

A quick Google search for the company that best suits your needs can often end up feeling overwhelming instead of helpful. So, how can you tell which agency will actually provide you the services you require? How can you tell if or when a firm is ripping you off? What can you do to make sure that the private investigators you work with actually know what they are doing? And how can you ensure that they deliver on their promises?

The good news is, most private investigation companies are legit and aim to help their clients. However, there are definitely certain dangers in hiring the wrong private investigation firm. To help you identify the dangers you will likely come across when choosing a private investigation firm to handle your case, we’ve put together a few of the most common red flags to look out for.

BEWARE: “Leading Investigation Agency!”

There are many private investigation agencies that advertise that they are, “Canada’s Leading Investigation Agency” or “America’s Leading Investigation Agency”. This isn’t necessarily true.

You can discover the truth for yourself by asking the agency one simple question: what areas do you provide services to?

If the company is truly a “leader” in the private eye industry, they will offer private investigation services in any location across the country. If the private investigation company tells you that they can only provide service in one specific area, it means that they are not as established as they want you to believe.

You need to be cautious when hiring or working with a private investigator from one of these companies. The biggest challenge is that despite what they tell you, these companies tend to come with little to no private investigation experience. If you hire someone with little to no experience, the likelihood that the investigation will go poorly significantly increases.

In addition, individuals who have just received their license run many of these “leading industry” companies. They advertise in this way to try and quickly attract clients. Again, this is a problem because: the less experience a private investigator has, the more likely your case won’t be handled with care.

Why take the risk? If you really want to work with someone you trust, pick the company that actually provides service throughout the country. If they do what they advertise, they’re likely your best bet.

BEWARE: The Cheap(est) Option

Good private investigators don’t come cheap. If you want someone to help you with a skip trace, background check, child custody investigation, infidelity investigation, or fraud investigation, there are particular skills that are required.  

If you call a private investigation company and they roll out a low number, one that is much cheaper in comparison to other companies, please think twice before you hire them. Many companies will provide a quote like, $100 for a skip trace. Seems like a great deal, right?

It’s actually a huge scam.

The company will take the $100 and then claim that they can’t locate the person you want them to find. In order to keep searching, the company will request an additional budget. Some clients end up paying upwards of $800 without any results. Alternatively, there are also many private investigation firms that will offer services that they are incapable of following through on, just to make a quick buck.

We can’t stress this enough. Don’t hire a private investigation company that offers services with extremely low rates, or services that other companies refuse to take on. You will only end up feeling disappointed and be out hundreds of dollars with nothing to show for it.

Companies like ours to continue to offer proper investigative services pay thousands of dollars per year for access to databases only investigators can gain access to. The majorities of companies who claim to offer services in most cases cannot even afford the expenses of these databases and therefore cannot offer proper investigative results as they have limited access to information.

 BEWARE: Experience Matters

Before you hire a private investigation agency, you should also make sure that you look into its experience. Experienced firms are the ones that you can trust to get the job done right—the first time. These companies might hire investigators who have recently obtained their license, but they also have the bandwidth to work with these hires, to ensure that they get the job done correctly.

(It’s important to note that we aren’t saying that recently licensed private investigators won’t provide you with great service. It’s the ones that lie about their business and their abilities that you really need to keep an eye out for.)

Most private investigation companies advertise how many years they’ve been in business. It is up to you to confirm that this information is true. A firm that lies about how long they’ve been in business is essentially telling you that they can’t be trusted. If they can’t be trusted, then you have to question whether or not they will put your money to good use.

Confirming this information is fairly simple, you can check out the company’s reviews online, check for rewards or accomplishemnts or even request references. Taking a look at what others are saying about the private investigation agency is the perfect way to avoid the pitfalls associated with hiring the wrong people to take on your case.

So, before you send that payment to the first private investigator agency you find on the Internet, please, give it some thought. The more you know about the dangers that are out there, the easier it will be for you to spot them when they arise.

Want more information on award winning, private investigative services? Contact today: Info@SmithInvestigationAgency.com.

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Founder of The Smith Investigation Agency in 2014, Whitney Joy Smith’s extensive background as a private investigator is matched only by her passion for the role. A graduate of several respected institutions, including Northwest Florida State College and George Brown College, her early years in life were spent between Canada and the United States. This education, along with her formative years as a private investigator in various agencies, informed much of her knowledge of private investigative laws, regulations, and operating standards in both countries.


The recipient of numerous industry awards and accolades, including the Consumers Choice Award, Best in Ottawa, and many others, Whitney takes pride in working closely with her ever-growing agency to raise the bar, maintain compliance, and meet the investigative needs of clients. Whitney is active in various membership and supporting roles, including the CPIRC, CBN, CAPI, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and many others. Her experience-driven, thought-provoking articles have been featured in everything from Readers Digest to Business News Daily, and she strives to continually redefine standards for those in the private investigative and security fields. Learn more about Whitney and the team at The Smith Investigation Agency today.

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