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What is a P.I.?

Private Investigator, Private Eye, Private Detective, Private Dick, Shamus, Gumshoe, Snoop, Private Agent, Secret Snoop, Super Secret Snoop, Spy, Nosy Interloper; there are other terms and descriptions, of course. Some are more derogatory, which means they shouldn't be listed on this site.

All are pseudonyms for the person who applies the trade of learning, determining, discovering, obtaining information which the client, be it an attorney, a company or an individual, wants or needs to know.

There are some states which do not require licensing of the trade, but California requires provable experience in the field plus passing a written test for an applicant to qualify to be a Private Investigator.

Private Investigators are known to use their wiles and creative thought processes to obtain the information required. However, most of the work requires extreme diligence, thorough research, and hard work. This is what you are paying for, and this is what the P.I. must provide. While there are some less than scrupulous investigators who will go to any extreme to get the information, such antics are ill advised, and can lead to criminal prosecution, for both the investigator and the client.

When should you contact a Private Investigator?

Although this seems a complicated question, it truly is not. It can be answered simply: You should contact a Private Investigator whenever you need to know some item of information about persons, places or things.

How do I find a Private Investigator?

Private Investigators who are serious about their profession advertise in the local telephone book. They also will place a running advertisement in newspapers, and/or they will send bulletins and business cards to local attorneys who specialize in the same fields as the private investigator. Most now have an internet presence, and all the information concerning them can usually be found on those sites. Actually, you're reading one of those sites right now, aren't you?

How do I choose a Private Investigator?

Investigators usually specialize in certain activities; stationary surveillance, with or without camera/video backup; moving surveillance; undercover operations; civil defense; criminal defense; and research, either physical, computer, or court records, for leading to recovery by a recovery specialist (repossession), or for general information for the client. Others work in what is called general investigations. That is, they will do most anything the client is willing to pay for.

The best way to select a Private Investigator:

• Be quite clear on your objectives as the client. What do you want to know?

• Check with the Department of Consumer Affairs, or the equivalent in your state, to determine whether the investigator (whose advertisement in the telephone book may be the most interesting to you - which is why you chose them) has any claims or complaints filed against them.

The State of California Department of Consumer Affairs. Check with for access to their Department of Consumer Affairs page.
View Miller Confidential Services' listing now.

• Verify the validity of the license, if one is required in your state. There are a few states that don't require licensing, and you will find these states generally have the highest incident of investigators who have moved there in order to ply their trade after having been convicted of a felony crime.
You may also want to use Crime Time Publishing Co.'s website to get information particular to your state.

• Ask your attorney, if you are using one, for advice. The attorney may be able to recommend an investigator they have used in the past and have confidence in.

• Finally, this job description of Private Detectives and Investigators from the United States Department of Labor should give you an overview of what a P.I. can and cannot do.

If you have questions, please call 415-299-1087
or email Miller Confidential Services.

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Chile, Belize, Sydney, Bogota, Bangkok, and Hollywood.

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