I get several calls a week from potential clients and one of the frequently asked questions is "Why should I go with you when your rates are higher than company (X)?" Another one I hear from time to time is "I found a private investigator who will work for $500.00 for the entire week!" The reality is if you are using an individual or company that will work for $500.00 a week they're most likely not licensed and insured, or the investigator is working independently (and illegally) without letting their hiring company know.
Does the investigation company need to be licensed? The answer is yes. The Department of Public Safety mandates under Chapter 1702.101 of the occupations' code that:
Unless the person holds a license as an investigations company, a person may not:
(1) act as an investigations company;
(2) offer to perform the services of an investigations company; or
(3) engage in business activity for which a license is required under this chapter.
The reality is if you hire a company (X) who is not licensed, they're committing a crime. In Texas, all investigations companies must also carry insurance per Rule 35.27 in the Texas Administrative Code.
Why does it matter? I realize when a person calls me for a potential investigation, be it criminal or civil, it can be one of the most stressful times of his or her life. Whether facing a felony charge and the potential of many years in prison, battling for custody to protect the safety of your children or the thought that a significant other may be cheating, I understand. I also know completely confiding in a stranger is very difficult, which is why all of our cases are 100% private and confidential. When you hire an unlicensed or uninsured investigator, you are hiring a criminal. Not only that, but anything they may find can never be used in court. The state of Texas set it up this way to protect you as the potential client. All licensed investigators in Texas are thoroughly checked, including being fingerprinted and undergoing a mandatory FBI background check.
Another pitfall to watch out for is the "licensed investigator" who checks out on the state website for verification, but then requests that you pay them in their own name. This is also crime, and although the investigator is licensed they have begun to act like a company at that point, when in fact they are not their own company that is licensed and insured. Instead, they are actually stealing money from the company they are licensed under the state. Under state law, all transactions and contracts must go through the company, under the company name with the company insurance and license. Working without the company means that they have no supervision, no insurance, and work with no safety net or guidance, sometimes not even realizing that they're breaking the law. As a licensed owner/manager/private investigator in Texas, it is my responsibility to always know what each and every one of my investigators is doing, what cases are being worked, and what is going on in my company.
You get what you pay for when it comes to investigation companies. We at Special Investigations Group have a proven track record of winning both huge and small cases, as well as successfully guiding many people through difficult times. At SIG, it isn't just about money, it's about getting you the evidence you need for the peace of mind you deserve. We will be here every step of the way from start to finish, and in many cases even long after we complete your investigation if you need us.
I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion and if you would like to verify any company or individual that is licensed under the Texas Private Security Bureau please visit https://tops.portal.texas.gov/psp-self-service/search/index and enter their information.