Thursday, February 10, 2011

Insider Tips on Choosing a UK Private Investigator

There is no shortage of UK private investigator and UK background check websites offering services in major cities throughout England, Ireland and Scotland. What is suprising, however, is that few of them are highly recommended. Many private detectives or websites, even some ranking very well in Google, are scams. Clients often find themselves sending money to a UK private investigator only later to see the work isn't done at all and their money stolen, or receive an unacceptable service. Such complaints are increasingly common. As an international private investigator, I receive a lot of requests for recommendations on a UK private detective or background check firm. Hopefully this article will make choosing a UK based PI much easier.

When shopping for a professional and trained UK private investigator, be very skeptical of anyone asking for payment to be sent via Western, Money Gram, PayPal or bank transfer. A real company and professional firm should accept payment via a secure website, using your credit or debit card. Criminals and scammers prefer Western Union or bank transfer, because once the money is sent, there is no way to get the money bank. A professional investigation firm offers payment by credit card. If for any reason there is a problem, you have the option of calling your credit card company and reporting the fraud. Payment by PayPal is fine, just be advised that this is often the sign of an individual, and not a real company. PayPal accounts are easy to set up, and it's not the hallmark of a big company or firm. If this is the only form of payment offered, be very skeptical.

Don't overlook the obvious. Make sure the investigator has offices or field investigators in the UK. No exceptions. No excuse.

ASK FOR A CLIENT REFERRAL. The UK is one of the countries where scam private investigator websites and criminals posing as private detectives is all too common. Be sure to get a client referral or even two before deciding. Ask where he or his investigators received their professional training, and if they have military or law enforcement training experience. In some cases someone with a professional looking website will take a client's money for surveillance, and provide an email paragraph for a report, with no photos! Equally bad, a company or person will purchase a UK background check, and the person won't do anything, and send an email or generic report claiming everything came back clean. This is plain fraud, and criminal acts conducted by individuals in the UK or elsewhere. Always ask for a referral. Also search Google for the name of the investigator or company to see what others are saying. Good companies have people talking, so consider no reference the same as a bad reference.

After your initial research, see if the investigator responds promptly and professionally to your email questions. If you have additional questions, or just want to chat about your case, see if the investigator is available for a phone conversation. This is an excellent way to see what kind of service to expect. Red flags should go up if the investigator claims to be "in meetings" or otherwise unavailable. Most scammers prefer to do their dirty work over email, although some will also take phone calls, so use this as just another tool in the selection process. Lastly, check the website for trust seals such as Verisign, Truste, Better Business Bureau and McAfee. These are organizations that help narrow the options down for you, and BBB makes it easy to see if there have been any previous complaints or problems.

Best of luck,

A. Hathaway
© 2011 A. Hathaway
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This copyrighted article was written and published by the editor and site author, A. Hathaway, or other guest private investigator, expert or contributor as noted.