January 25, 2009

Finding a Professional, Avoiding the Amateurs

With demand for background checks, surveillance and private investigation on the rise in the Philippines, there has been a major increase in the number of providers. Many of these so-called investigators are locals trying to take cash in on the demand, and many clients end up having their money stolen, or receiving unacceptable and reliable work for their money.

The Local Joe vs. the Professional

Selecting a professional Philippines investigator with the proper tools, experience and management team can be a challenge. Fraud and corruption reaches all corners of the Philippines, including many of the operating private investigators. In many cases the local investigator provides unacceptable service, or even no service at all. Other local investigators honestly attempt to do the work, but are not qualified or properly trained.

Sorting through the Mess: A Checklist

1. If it's too cheap, there's probably a reason.
If an investigator claims to offer an exceptional service, at a very low price, it's a safe bet you will get what you pay for. Real, professional investigation can be expensive.

2. Beware of investigators that only accept Western Union.
A real company or professional investigator should have a website where you can submit various forms of payment, including a secure site where you can pay by credit card.

3. Avoid investigators who only accept PayPal.
PayPal is a secure payment option. However, be very skeptical if this is the only way to pay your investigator via a credit card. A real company will offer various forms of payment options, and allow you to submit your credit or debit card data directly via their secure website. A website that only offers PayPal for credit card payments is almost always a clear indication that you are dealing with an individual and not a real company.

4. Is the investigator available for a phone call?
Make sure your investigator is available over the phone. This will show you what kind of service you can expect throughout your case. Avoid any investigator who does not provide an office phone number on his email or website.

5. Use secure websites with privacy seals.
Private investigation can involve details of a very private nature. Look for a PI with a website with privacy seals such as Truste and/or McAfee security. These seals show that the company is serious about protecting your privacy.

6. Do surveillance photos have time-date stamps?
Surveillance photos during any professional investigation will have time-date stamps. This is industry standard and this type of evidence should be included in daily reports to clients.

7. Avoid websites with no business address or phone.
One of the best ways to distinguish the real investigation firm from the local or shady operation is to check the website's contact us page. A real company has a secure contact us page on their website (with a lock on your browser) with a business address. A real investigator will be happy to provide clients with a business phone where he or she can be reached. If any investigator fails to provide this information, look elsewhere.

8. Avoid investigators with no references.
Before paying for an investigator, search the web for references of the company. This way you can learn what others are saying about the investigator. If there isn't any feedback on the web, ask the investigator for a former client reference.

9. Avoid investigators who don't speak proper English.
English is commonly spoken in the Philippines. It is also necessary to conduct a proper investigation there. A PI who doesn't speak English fluently is unqualified.

10. Avoid websites that look unprofessional.
Inadequate budgets and training for development of the business, which can be perceived when viewing the company website, will likely be reflected in other areas as well, such as reports, surveillance and communication. Pay for quality.

11. Expect to pay a fair price.
Private investigation can be expensive. Instead of trying to save a few bucks by choosing a local or someone unknown, speak with a reputable firm about the best option for you. Choosing a cheap PI may mean money and time lost, so choose carefully.

12. Go with a foreign-based company.
Because of the fraud throughout the Philippines, we recommend using a company that is U.S or European managed or owned. This will ensure the company is ran according to stricter standards, and is accountable for safer business practices.

Keep the above checklist in mind when shopping for a private investigator in the Philippines or elsewhere. Philippine PI™, a U.S. based firm with operations throughout the Philippines, contributed to the information in this article.

All the Best,

S. Birch
© 2006-2009 S. Birch
Different Themes
Posted by the Investigators

This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, S. Birch, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as stated.