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  • Writer's pictureBlue Eagle Security Solutions

How Much Does a Private Investigator Cost?

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

The cost of a private investigator can vary widely on the location, the services required and the experience and qualifications of the investigator. Private Investigators charge an hourly rate roughly ranging from $80-$200 per hour. Some investigators may collect a retainer upfront and deduct service hours and expenses from that retainer as the investigation moves along. The remaining amount of the retainer is then returned to the client at the end of the investigation. Lastly, some types of investigations are paid for with a flat one-time fee.


There are four things that can affect the cost of a private investigation:


Location: Investigators in major cities will often charge more than rural locations.


Type of Investigation: Certain investigations may be more complex and time-consuming than others, leading to higher costs. For example, a client is going to have to pay a higher rate for a forensic financial investigation than for a routine background investigation. Additionally, some investigators may be able to find a solution to the problem in under an hour, while other cases take weeks to resolve. That is why hiring an investigator who specializes in the kind of investigation needed is vital to reducing the overall cost.


Equipment and Resources: Some investigations, such as those requiring surveillance or bug detection, likely use expensive tools and/or technology. The total cost of equipment gets passed along to the client.


Travel and Expenses: If an investigator must travel to conduct a witness interview or to document the scene of an automobile accident, then it is likely that mileage and parking expenses will be incurred. These costs along with other expenses such as document retrieval fees, database costs, printing and open source intelligence resources are passed along to the customer.


It is important to discuss any fees and costs upfront when seeking a private investigator. An estimate or budget along with a contract in place can help the client avoid any surprises. It also ensures both parties know what is expected of the other during the investigation process.


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