The private investigator profession is often unknown to a large part of the population in France, and it is not an easy task to choose a professional when needed. We give you here some advice to keep in mind while hiring a private investigator.
Make sure that your private investigator is authorized
The conditions for exercising the profession of private investigator are defined by the Code of Internal Security in France. The agencies and their managers must obtain an authorization for exercising and an accreditation both delivered by the “Conseil National des Activités Privées de Sécurité” (CNAPS).
The authorization number must appear on the commercial and official documents (website, price quotes, contracts, invoices, reports…) issued by the private investigation companies. If you can’t find this authorization number, you should definitely ask for it.
You can check the authorizations and accreditations validity on the following page on the CNAPS website.
For further information regarding the private investigators regulation, have a look to our dedicated page.
Choose a professional located in the investigation area
The knowledge of a specific area by the private investigator gives him an important added value. We then recommend to choose, as far as possible, an agency actually located in the area where the investigation will take place. It should have the knowledge of the environment, the economic structure and the local specificities of the investigation area.
For this reason, you should definitely avoid the private investigation agencies pretending that they cover a very wide area, at the national or even international level. Beware of the following cases:
- companies showing on their website or on Google Maps dozens of agencies across the country. Even if there are some networks in France with agencies in several regions, there are also many companies or individuals using dubious communication in order to catch customers through the Internet.
- professionals claiming that they can investigate “all over France and abroad”, while they don’t speak english or any other foreign language, and without any background abroad…
According to the profession regulation, each agency must be linked to a physical establishment (with a unique SIRET number) and an authorization for exercising delivered by the CNAPS (n°AUT-….).
Any communication or advertising regarding a ficticious agency is therefore in breach of the regulation. We advise to avoid the companies with a single establishment registered in the Trade and Companies Register, and showing, for instance, a dozen agencies on Google Maps.
Ask for a transparent price and a detailed costs follow-up
In France, the prices are freely set by each private investigator. There is always some uncertainty regarding the investigation extent: number of hours, distance, extra costs… In many cases, they will depend on the chain of events and the confirmation (or not) of the clients suspicions.
However, the private investigator must have a rational and transparent approach while preparing his price quotation. The price must be in line with a cost estimation justified by the available information.
As the investigation result is usually uncertain, we consider that the price must be directly linked to the human and material resources to deploy. These resources may include the time spent on-site, the number of investigators required, or a volume of specific sources to investigate.
We advise to be careful with the flat prices, which are sometimes arbitrary and disconnected from the allocated resources.
The professional must also be able to provide a clear follow-up of his work and costs: time spent, extra-costs, distance travelled…
Further informations on the factors impacting our prices.
Select the skills matching your investigation needs
While choosing a private investigator, have a look to his specific skills. A good investigator for a family affair will not necesarily be the good one for an insurance investigation, and a fraud expert will not always be skilled for a cybercrime investigation.
You should also check the professional background of your interlocutor, as well as his training in a specific area or the feedback given by others.
The investigation scope may be wide: insurance, corporate fraud, industrial property, people tracing, due diligence… It is then normal that each private investigator has his own areas of interest. You can have a look to our skills for entreprises or individuals, as well as our founder background.
Beware of illegal techniques
We strongly recommend to avoid professionals who are using illegal investigation techniques. The evidence obtained would not be admissible, and you could be exposed to liability. We can for instance mention the use of gps trackers on vehicles without the owner consent, spywares on mobile phones, or recording private conversations. You should definitely refuse these techniques, and neither use them yourself on the professional request, even if he would be authorized for exercising and would offer an attractive price.