Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Private Investigator

How do I become a private investigator?

That's a complicated question with several parts that greatly depend upon in which state you plan on working. You have two options; You either work for a licensed private investigations agency or you go to work for yourself and obtain your own PI company license. Either way, you there are two considerations you must address at some point:

The first consideration is licensing; All but only a competent of states require a state-issued license to be a private investigator. Each state has different background, education and experience requirements that may vary from simply attending a state-approved training course to pre-licensing education, exams, years of work experience and obtaining a sizable professional liability insurance policy with "errors and omissions" coverage. To make matters just a little more confusing, there are some cities that require private investigators to either register or obtain a municipal license in states that do not otherwise require them.

The second consideration is training. Private investigation specific training is the most important investment you can make in yourself! Since most new PIs do not have the ability or are not ready to start up their own investigations company you will most likely be looking for employment with an established agency. As an owner of an established and well respected detective agency I get resumes all of the time; The first thing I look for before considering a candidate is to ask the question, "How has this person invested in themselves before asking me to invest in them?"

What if I Do not have the minimum experience required by the state to obtain my own company license? How will I ever break into the industry?

If your goal is to personally own your investigations agency, no problem … every state that requires experience also has a program in place to see that new investigators have access to eventually obtaining their own license. For example, in Texas where we hold an agency license those who are too new simply go to work for an established company until they have the required number of hours to be able apply for their own license. In Florida (where we also have an agency license) they specifically provide internship licenses. Again, every state is a little bit different but thousands of successful private investigators are working today and tens of thousands have come before us; We all had to get started someplace … you can too.

Also, consider your own background and employment related experience carefully some of it may apply. I have known loss prevention agents, security guards (in particular roles), accountants, firemen, bail bondsmen, alarm installers, teachers, and even a librarian use their previous employment experiences to apply for their own agency license.

What type of training should I be looking into?

Any amount of training is great though most PI companies do not place a whole lot of credibility with the courses from PCDI, Harcourt, and Thompson Direct. You could honestly do much better and at less cost.

Instead, look for academies or training programs that have been created by private investigators. Who knows better about what a new or an aspirating private detective needs to know than an investigator who has been in the field for a reasonable amount of time?

Also … look to see that the sponsoring company is active in the industry as well. Are they still providing regular private investigative services to a robust clientele? It's sad, but many PIs who wash out over a very short period of time in the business look to teaching. In reality, you will learn very little from those who could not make it themselves; Success breeds success!

Lastly, I have a little secret I would like to share with you …

Look over the education provider's entire website and see if you find boastful claims or where the company is bashing other educators. This is a very tight-knit industry and you will find that students who complete training programs from educators that spend time "bad mouthing the competition" have a terrible time getting a break simply because of the animosity created through their educator's use of negative advertising. I know that seems irrefutable but it is a reality in this business. This does not mean, however, that you should dismiss the negative press but the first thing an excellent private investigator learns is how to evaluate a claim, identify the source and make a judgment based on additional facts and research. Some statements will have merit while others will not; It's up to you to make that decision.

What is the difference between a private investigator and a private detective?

Nothing. The terms are used interchangeably but some states choose to use the term "detective" while most use the term "investigator."

I really just want to help my friends and family to find old friends or people who owe them money. Do I need a PI license?

That's a great question. Generally speaking, in those states where it is a requirement you will need to obtain a license if you hold yourself out for hire or accept payment from another person or business and participate in or provide the following services:

O Surveillance

O Obtaining or furnished information related to a crime or the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person, group or company.

O Securing evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or committee

O Locating or recovering lost or stolen property and unclaimed funds.

O Determining the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property.

Some states may specifically include such things as service of process, bail enforcement, personal protection and genealogical research under those activities that require a private investigator's license as well.

Do I have to have a degree in Criminal Justice from a college or university?

No, though some states may accept a degree in Criminal Justice, Administration of Justice or Police Sciences in lieu of the minimum experience requirements. One recent study conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Justice concluded that almost 57% of all private investigators do not have a college education.

If I do not have a college education do I have to have a background as a police officer or other law enforcement related profession?

No. Most private investigators do not have a law enforcement background before entering into this industry. It is true that many private investigators may have once had a career in criminal justice but the bottom-line is that private investigation and law enforcement is very different and my experience has been that very few who make the transition from law enforcement are prepared for this Type of work, either technically or creatively, on their own. Most of them recognize this and seek industry specific training as well.

What type of person makes a successful private investigator?

This business requires a rare blend of logic and creativity; It's rare because logical people tend to not be very creative and vice-versa.

I would say that any successful detective must first have the ability to communicate. This means that he or she must have the ability to connect with people of all walks of life, regardless of economic status, ethnicity or education. It also means that the investigator must have the ability to clearly present a simple fact or a complex inquiry in writing. The end result of an investigation is the investigative report, which is given to the client upon conclusion of the assignment; This is especially our work product. If you can not write reasonably well, your reputation will certainly suffer as a result.

Secondly, great investigators have a burning desire to answer any question that is put to them only after a careful and determined effort to identify the facts and circumstances that contribute to a complete and unbiased explanation. We are in the business to provide facts, not opinions; We let our clients draw their own conclusions from our report. Oftentimes in order to get to those facts, we must be relentless in our pursuit of information. This is where logic meets creativity. Dead-ends often only require a different approach!

Lastly, I believe that every investigator should possess a varied set of experiences and knowledge. One characterization of the private detective industry I can make is that by and large we represent a vastness of experience, skills, and trades. One of the most accomplished investigators I have ever metlisted "Mom" on her resume. When she decided to become a private investigator she had no appreciable skills that she could put in her resume but through her own experiences she had developed an intuition that was almost never wrong and she could simplify complex problems into there most basic parts. I have personally hired a plumber, building contractor, car salesman, and a host of other seemingly unrelated career types into my own company, CompassPoint Investigations, because they had certain intangibles that made them great in this business!

The bottom line is that anyone can train to become a wild successful private investigator, just like one can train to become a barber or an attorney, but an aspiring detective has to bring some things to the table that can not be easily taught: creativity, logic , The ability to communicate and an insatiable curiosity!

I have a criminal conviction in my background from many years ago. Will this affect my ability to become a private eye?

Every state that requires a license to be a PI also requires a background investigation as a part of the licensing process. I believe that a felony conviction will be an automatic disqualification in almost every instance (although I know a felon who has a PI license issued by the city of Columbus, MO.), While misdemeanors may be considered depending upon the crime, its seriousness and The amount of time that has passed since the conviction; Again this will vary by state.

Will my military discharge affect my ability to become a private investigator?

In some cases a discharge that is anything but honorable may prevent you from becoming a PI. Just as in the answer to the criminal conviction history above, some states require PI applicants be free from negative military discharge classifications- Bad Conduct Discharge, Less than Honorable or Other Than Honorable service characterizations are grounds for denial of a PI license in several states and Jurisdictions.

Perhaps the Florida Division of Licensing put it best: "Private investigators and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. Investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. "

Can I just specialize in a particular type of investigation or will I have to do the surveillances and cheating spouse investigations too?

I absolutely recommend that investigators find their niche and specialize in only a few types of investigations! There are several important reasons for this, which I discuss in my training programs, but it can be summed up this way: when you are the most notable investigator in your region of the country for a specific type of investigation, you will find additional additional Opportunities to make a lot more money than if you advertise yourself as a "jack of all trades." This has been proven across the country time and time again and is a major topic of discussion in our coming private investigation marketing manual.

What types of assignments do private investigators typically take?

Wow, the options are endless and the subject really describes its own entity section! I have listed the most obvious types of private investigator assignments in an article you can find by going to my Articles Page. I will eventually briefly describe each type of investigation in the next couple of weeks. Continue to check in as we are constantly making additions.

What type of investigation or specialty assignment pays the most?

I do not know that anyone can answer that question definitively, but I will say that surveillance is typically the most lucrative type of assignment a private investigator can get because it is solid, billable, blocks of time. I am aware that there are particular types of investigations where investigators are making anywhere between $ 300 and $ 500 an hour for activities like forensic computer evaluation, security consulting, automobile repossession, and a few others specialties. I personally have made $ 10,000 in an hour on several occasions in 14 years doing bail fugitive recovery work, those types of paydays are few and far between. Overall I average almost $ 150 an hour while engaged in bail enforcement, not too bad by most people's standards, though many investigators just do not have the stomach for that type of work. It can be extremely dangerous, it is a very competitive field and you get paid only if you can complete the case.

Is private investigation dangerous work?

Obviously, there are some PI jobs that are more dangerous than others like contractual repossession or bounty hunting but, generally speaking, private investigation is not a dangerous job. We all have heard the stories of PIs getting spoken while on surveillance by an irate cheating husband or being chased out of a yard at the business end of a shotgun while serving a subpoena. Most episodes of Magnum PI had Tom Selleck dodging bullets, too. Certainly, scary things can and do happen on rare occasions but like all war stories, the ones that seem to get a lot of attention play out more like fiction than reality. Safety is always at the forefront of every trained investigator's mind.

The L Steps – 6 Steps of Real Estate Investing

Real estate investing in Miami real estate is now becoming popular again as there are many properties in foreclosure, short sale, bank reo's, and government foreclosures. With such an overwhelming inventory of homes available for sale a real estate investor must be able to determine which one to purchase. Investors must follow six steps in order to learn, understand and achieve Miami real estate investment success.

These are the six L steps to Miami real estate investing:

1. Location – Location, location, location is still the key of buying Miami real estate. Buying Miami real estate just because the price is low in a declining area is big mistake that should be avoided. Look for homes in an excellent location like, good schools, economic stable and growing neighborhoods, near shopping centers and malls, near bus stops and metro rails, near hospitals and restaurants. Sometimes it is better to pay a little more for a property in a good location than getting a bargain in a place where it is very hard to sell or rent the asset. Location is often overlooked in purchasing real estate as many investor think they can exceed a bad location if the price is low enough. Out of two homes that are exactly the same, the one in the best location will command a much higher sales price and rental income. Location is the number consideration when purchasing Miami South Florida real estate.

2. Long Term – Real estate investing is a long term proposition. Do not think you are going to be a millionaire over night. It takes years of hard work and dedication in order to succeed. Hold any property at least one year before selling it. Capital gain taxes will be greatly reduced. Consider renting the property for at two or three years. The rental income generated will help you to properly repair and renovate the property. Many investors purchased properties in the middle of real estate boom with no money down and no equity. These investors were thinking of flipping the houses fast and making a killing in the process. Many homes now in foreclosure are due to investors that were caught in the middle and now realize that real estate investing is very hard to time. Long term Miami real estate investing is the secret to a successful real estate career.

3. Lease Option – Never rent a property with a lease option to buy. Either sell or rent it straight out. A lease option is usually a disaster for both buyers and sellers. The tenant will demand a large discount of the rent to go towards the down payment and closing costs. The problem is that tenant will not buy the property at the end of the lease and the landlord / seller will have wasted a lot of money in rebates given to the tenant / buyer. Demand a 20% or 30% deposit from the tenant / buyer and a clause in the contract that if they default on the purchase they will lose the deposit. This technique will force the buyer / buyer to purchase the property or lose the deposit. The risk of losing the deposit will eliminate the tenant from taking advantage of the landlord by walking out of the contract after receiving a monthly rental discount.

4. Local – Buy real estate close to where you live. Do not buy real estate in another state or in another country. Keep real estate investing local. Buy in your own county and in your city. The more you know about the area where you are buying the better the decision will be. The investor should always be close to the investment property. The Miami real estate investor should inspect the property often to determine any repair, roof and other problems. The landlord must inspect the property every month when collecting the rent. Check for the number of tenants actually living in the property, check for damages and destruction of the property and overall condition of the place. The investor / landlord will not be able to inspect and determine the condition of the property if it is located far away. Keeping real estate local is an essential step in real estate investing.

5. Leverage – Most real estate books and seminars tell you to use other people's money when purchasing real estate. This technique is not the best and buyers should try to buy the property in cash if at all possible. Buying a house in cash will help you get a better deal and allow you to negotiate from a position of strength. A cash buyer will always have the upper hand in negotiating with banks, property owners, and other sellers. Cash buyers will not suffer and go into foreclosure if the market turns and they are unable to sell or rent the house right away. Like Dave Ramsey always says "cash is king and debt is dumb". Buying an investment property in cash is an excellent way to avoid Miami real estate investment errors.

6. Learn – Research the property and learn everything about it before you buy. A mistake in Miami real estate investing can be very costly. Usually you make your money when you buy not when you sell. Buying the property at the wrong price the wrong place and at the wrong time could be detrimental. One mistake could wipe you out and put you out of business before you start. Ask questions to the experts, real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage brokers, and other real estate investors. Learn, research, educate yourself in all aspects of real estate investing before you purchase the asset.

It is definitely a buyers market in Miami-Dade County. Miami real estate investors have more choices than ever before when it comes to real estate investing. Investors must follow the L steps, the 6 steps real estate investor guide to successful real estate investing in order to achieve their investment goals in the Miami real estate market.

How to Save Money on Your Calls While You Travel

1) PLAN AHEAD

If you know you will be traveling in the near future, start planning for it. Many calling providers have special plans for use abroad . If your provider does – you might want to use it. Typically, they offer an add-on for a small charge a day. If you are the type of person that spends a lot of time on your phone, it is probably worth it to go for that add-on to your regular plan. Just remember to stop it when you get back, you do not want to be paying that extra charge forever.

If you provider does not have an international add-on or you do not want to use it, there are still plenty of other options to call your home town while you are abroad at a cheaper rate.

Consider buying a local SIM when you are abroad. This is an excellent solution if you travel to the same place often or if you are going to stay in the same place for a long time. When you buy a local SIM card in the place you are visiting, you will usually pay for a bundle of minutes and the price will probably work out a lot cheaper than using your regular phone plan plus you will not need to pay roaming (in Most countries).

If you have a locked phone, you will not be able to use a foreign SIM card without unlocking your phone first.

You can also buy a local calling card which you can then use to call from hotel phones, pay phones … Calling cards are not that popular anymore these day, but if you need a solution for cheap international calling then they are a good option . Also here you have the advantage that there are no roaming costs.

2) WHEN YOU ARE ABROAD

Whenever you need to make a call, think of what you want to say beforehand . This will usually make your call shorter and it will also prevent you from forgetting to say something and then needing to call back.

Text messages are cheaper than calls, so sometimes it may be worth it to send a text message instead of calling , if it is just a short message you need to give over. Remember that text messages are free to receive while calls are not. If someone needs to tell you something, ask them to text instead of call.

Beware though that a back-and-forth text conversation will probably work out the same price as a phone call.

Even if you do not call abroad, you need to pay for incoming calls – so you need to pay when people call you and also some provide make you pay if someone leaves you a voicemail while you are abroad (depending on the country you are In).

You can eliminate at least one of these problems by deciding – do you want people to be able to contact you while abroad or do you want to enjoy you holiday in peace and quiet without being disturbed by anyone calling?

If you do not want to speak to anyone, divert all your calls to voicemail . This way you will not be charged for roaming. You might have to pay if anyone leaves a message for you though.

If you do want to stay in contact with people and answer calls, then disable voicemail . This will eliminate any charges for voicemail (if applicable) and when your phone rings you will be able to see who is calling and decide if you want to answer of not. If you answer you will need to pay roaming charge and if you do not answer, there will be no charge.

Do not listen to voicemail when you are abroad unless you really have to. Calls to voicemail are charged at the same rate as regular calls so you can end up paying a lot of money for just listening to your voicemail.

3) DATA AND WIFI

For many people, high phone bills when abroad do not actually come from speaking on the phone that much, but rather from high data usage. When abroad, your provider will charge you a high rate per megabyte used. If you need to use the internet then by all means use free WiFi when possible, there are loads of places where you can get free WiFi. Some hotels offer you internet at a small charge but that will probably still be cheaper than using mobile data. Just to make sure your phone does not switch to data automatically, it is best to switch off your data for the duration of your stay.

If you are using your phone for GPS and need to download maps, do so before your trip or when you have WiFi. Many navigation programs allow you to download the map beforehand and once it is downloaded no internet is needed for the navigation itself.

4) INTERNET CALLING

Many people these days are turning to internet calling when they are abroad as it offers so many benefits. Internet calls are practically free if both end users are on the same network and provided there is WiFi. If there is no WiFi then you need to count in the cost of data. If both users are not on the same network, then there is a small charge for using VoIP but it is still a lot cheaper that using your regular phone plan.

So obviously the price is a major factor as to why people use VoIP when abroad. But also, VoIP is not connected to a physical place so it can be taken anywhere. Think of business people who want to keep the same number when traveling. With a business phone this would be impossible but with VoIP, people can call you anywhere if you have your mobile / PC with you and there is no roaming charge.

In addition, many VoIP service providers offer features that are not offered with standard phone plans. These may include video calling, sending locations, group chats, and more

There are different types of internet calling:

• Phone to phone calls – using regular phones, VoIP adapters are used to connect the phones to the internet. If both end users are on the same network – the call will be free. If they are on different networks – there will be a small charge.

Calls can also be made using IP phones instead of VoIP adapters to make the calls.

• PC to PC calls – using an app to make calls between PCs.

If the person you are calling has the same app on his PC – the call will be free. If the person you are calling does not have that app there will be a small charge.

• PC to phone calls – make calls from PC to a phone.

If you are calling a phone on the same network the call will be free. If the phone is not on the same network, there will be a small charge.

• Mobile to mobile calls – using an app to make the calls between the mobiles.

If the person you are calling has the same app on his PC – the call will be free. If the person you are calling does not have that app there will be a small charge.

Many apps also allow you to call mobile to PC and PC to mobile.

Whatever type of calling you use while abroad, if you plan a little before your trip you definitely save yourself a lot of money in the end

What's The Difference Between A Reseller Program And Affiliate Program?

Many people ask me what's the difference between becoming an affiliate or a reseller? What's the simple answer? Let's say there is a resellers and an affiliate, they both sell the same digital service for XYZCO; However, there are significant differences between each person's agreement.

What is a Reseller? A reseller creates a reseller account with XYZCO, and then solicit (proprietary) for customers to sign up under it for products or services. The reseller can sometimes provide the technical support for his or her customers and in some cases manages the billing directly with his / her clients then the order is fulfilled by the reseller company. Many companies offer while label solutions and ever customer support can be included to look like your service. With digital products, you get paid by your clients $ xxx.xx amount then your reseller fulfills the order charging you your wholesale reseller rate $ xx.xx so you make the difference on each order. Customers deal with the reseller directly, and sellers may set their prices at any level they choose.

What's an Affiliate? An affiliate is strictly an evangelist for our service. He or she refere customers or traffic to XYZCO, where they open their own accounts with the affiliate's special code to let us know who referred them. Affiliates are paid on commission by XYZCO and the current rate is an ongoing percentage of referred sales. Many affiliate programs pay a one-time commission; However, companies like SendPressReleases.com – Send Press Releases affiliate program offer a free program to sign up and you get paid forever on any of your referred clients allowing you to build a real affiliate business with digital products that sell.

There are pros and cons to each type of account, and which is right for you will depend upon how much time you would like to invest.

Key Points to Consider When Becoming a Reseller;

Getting started as a reseller is very easy and can be done within a few minutes. I would recommend taking some time and do a little research on the type of monetization terms each reseller program offers. Many key points for both reseller and affiliate can be the same and really come down to your potential profit and success with the individual program.

  1. How long does the software track client visitor cookies? Most reseller software will have a tracking cooking so if you refer someone using a referral tracking link, it will keep a record if they then purchase for up to 30/60/90 days and sometimes longer. Many people take time to get started and execute an order so this defiantly is a very important factor.
  2. Many reseller programs will pay you for your first referral that orders but then the terms might change. Ideally you would like to get paid on that client whenever they order.
  3. Simply said, read the terms a reseller provides you and see if they are fair and profitable. There are many types of reseller businesses that you could start so first you need to identify which type of reseller business model is right for you. Maybe the overall key factor is reselling something you have an interest or passion in? Choosing a reseller for the profit is not always a bad idea either!

Key Points to Consider When Joining an Affiliate Program;

  1. Minimum payment threshold, this can be the amount you must generate before a payment will be released to you for your affiliate marketing efforts. The payment threshold can vary from program to to program and can be anywhere from $ 5 to $ 100 and in some cases if you do not meet the terms (within 120 days as an example) you would forfeit your affiliate earnings. I would recommend learning the terms before joining any program no matter how great the initial profit model looks.
  2. Are the products you want to become affiliated with profitable and easy to process? This might be a very good question to ask your-self. Keep an eye out for shockingly high transactions, yes, sometimes Internet marketing is like pyramid schemes and if an affiliate program sounds too good to be true, it probably needs a closer look.
  3. Make money type of products and MLM. I am sure you know someone in one of these product categories, maybe they are even making money. Do not do it. Move in another direction, the statistics and numbers do not lie. These type of programs work on your greed and in many cases do not provide a products that justifies the potential. Do your homework ..

What's a Better Affiliate Program or a Reseller Program?

This is the questions you need to determine yourself. With each comes their own set of pros and cons. With a reseller program you might have more of a standard business that you can grow over time, however an affiliate program is easy to get started for free in many cases and can be a great part time business or second income.

Here is some statistic to reflect upon while you consider your options;

  • Affiliate marketing spend matches $ 5 Billion in the US
  • Affiliate marketing drives a whopping 1% of the country's total GDP in the UK.
  • Approximately 15% of all digital media industry's revenue comes from affiliate marketing.
  • In 2016 over 80% of brands utilize affiliate marketing.

Why Does it Have Setup Fee?

Many reseller and affiliate programs will charge a setup or account fee to get started, and yes this is very common. Reseller programs that offer you a great program, support, even white-label client support to assist and help your clients for you on your behalf. This can be a fantastic situation and can allow you to operate your own business and have it sully supported by your affiliate reseller company. I find digital products that are in high demand, that also offer your clients support in your behalf are some of the best most effective programs.