Risks of Hiring a Private Investigator

7 minute read

Although we’ve already talked extensively about how to become a private investigator and listed all the pros of this line of work, there are some drawbacks you would want to take note of before hiring a private investigator. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t hire a PI by any stretch of the imagination as they are very useful and get the job done in most cases, but there are some risks to keep in mind.

In this article, we will discuss issues such as the possibility of getting caught, the value you’d be getting in your particular situation, dependability, and more, so you can safely weigh in all the risks and make an informed decision when hiring a private investigator.

When Do I Need a Private Investigator?

First things first; before diving into dissecting all the risks of hiring a private investigator, let’s clarify the situations in which you might actually need one. On certain occasions, you might be able to solve your problem by utilizing our handy spy gear, but sometimes you’ll need the help of a skilled private detective. 

Some of the situations in which a PI will certainly help are the following:

  • Finding hidden assets and property;
  • Locating a missing person;
  • Conducting background investigations;
  • Conducting counter-surveillance;
  • Collecting evidence.

These are only some of the situations in which you might need a personal investigator and we’re certain that there are more specific services that they can offer. If you find yourself in need of any of the aforementioned services, don’t hesitate to contact a PI in your area. But before you do that, read on to find out more about the inherent risks of hiring a private investigator.

The Risks

Legal Pitfalls

In the majority of cases, when hired for procuring evidence, private investigators work closely with attorneys to further litigations. Even though this is where most PIs earn their “bread” and stature, the road can be filled with obstacles.

If you hire an investigator for an assignment where they might infringe upon certain criminal laws and privacy, the investigation can backfire and have legal consequences for both the client and the investigator.

As such, any private eye who’s worth one’s while has proper business insurance which shields them from taking the fall in legal issues. In certain situations, the client might be forced to take legal responsibility for kicking off the investigation which has led to infringement of the law. To avoid this, make sure to discuss such hypotheticals in detail with the private investigator that you want to hire.

Caught in the Act

This issue is closely tied to the investigator’s competence and even though no professional will dare to admit, there’s always an inherent risk of getting caught. That’s simply the nature of the profession; no matter how minuscule the possibility of getting caught is, there’s always a slight chance for things to go wrong. 

To minimize the blowback in such a situation, make sure you discuss contingency plans with your private investigator and give them precise instructions about what you are trying to achieve. You will make their job much easier and diminish the possibility of them getting caught.

Evidence Is a Slippery Slope

This is a big one and it rests entirely on your shoulders to keep this in mind should you want optimal results. Simply put, before hiring a private investigator, make sure you have a precise course of action should you get the evidence you need. The risk we’re pointing out here is you being reckless.

Sometimes you simply have to play the hand that you’ve been dealt and not make quick decisions should you obtain information about something that you don’t necessarily want to be true. Not only will you endanger yourself, but you might put the investigator you’ve hired at risk if you do something rash based upon the evidence that they’ve procured for you.


Once again, let’s say that you do get the needed evidence or information. You need to assess how reliable it is before acting on it. If the evidence is needed to further certain legal litigations, you must be sure of its reliability and discern whether it’s admissible in court, if need be. 

Another situation where reliability may come into question is when you don’t have the whole picture. Just because the investigator provided evidence that a stranger left the house when you weren’t there, it doesn’t mean that your spouse is necessarily cheating on you. 

This ties into our previous point - do not make rash decisions and give your PI exact information about what you’re trying to achieve. Facts don’t always indicate a causal relation and plain evidence without context isn’t always reliable.

The Value

Another thing you should keep in mind if you want to avoid dissatisfaction is the value that you would be getting out of the information you’re paying for. Retainers for private investigators, especially when dealing with surveillance work, can cost up to $1000. Simply ask yourself, “is the investigation worth the investment?” Will it solve your problem should the PI manage to procure the evidence you’re looking for? And ultimately, can you solve the issue yourself? 

The risk we’re alluding to here is being charged for something that won’t give you too much in return. Always assess the value of the information that you’re trying to get and be honest with yourself. 

If it ends up costing much more than you initially thought, then you probably don’t need to hire a professional investigator. Although, most PIs will explain the reasons as to why they’re charging a certain amount and you shouldn’t haggle if a certain fee is too high - just ask yourself again: “is it worth it for me?”

Hiring the Wrong Person

Just like with any other line of work, different private investigators are better at different things. They have varying skill sets and various sources for information. Although a true professional will always say openly whether they’re fit for the job you’re hiring them to do, some of them might not. The best course of action here is to ask what kind of jobs have they done in the past, and if their experience lines up with your needs, you’ll probably be getting what you paid for


If you’re in a prominent position or somewhat famous, it’s very important to consider how it would look should someone find out that you’ve hired a PI. The media is always quick to assume the worst and you might end up looking bad in the limelight. 

Another potential risk is that the blowback might also get carried over to an organization you’re affiliated with. If you’re trying to uncover certain information, make sure to not shine the light on yourself while doing so.

Closing Words

To summarize, all the risks of hiring a private investigator can be mitigated to an extent by yourself and it’s rarely the investigator’s fault should things go wrong. Even though they operate in the shadows, they’re usually a very honest bunch and should be treated with respect. If you temper your expectations, construct a plan about what you would do with the procured information, and don’t make any quick decisions upon getting results, you’ll fulfill your needs that much better.

If you, the reader, are an investigator yourself, make sure to check our collection of handy spy gadgets. We offer hidden cameras, voice recorders, GPS trackers, and many more pieces of gear that will take your investigations to another level. If you have suggestions about the risks we explained above or simply have inquiries about our spy equipment, don’t hesitate to contact us directly!

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