How to Hire a San Francisco Private Investigator

If you are looking for a private investigator located in the San Francisco Bay Area to help you with a legal or personally sensitive matter, you have come to the right place.

Based from our office in the North Bay (Napa is the most northern part of the San Francisco Bay Area), we routinely work for Bay Area clients.

However, if for some reason Steve Garrett, Private Investigator (that's us!) does not tickle your fancy here are a few tips to find the SF private detective of your choice.

Google: "San Francisco Private Investigator"

"Duh" you may be saying. Of course I will Google search "private investigator in San Francisco Bay Area". Yes, of course you will, be we are encouraging you to be very specific. "San Francisco Private Investigator" and "Private Investigator San Francisco" will get you the same results. But if you were to Google "Private Investigator Napa" you will get very different results.

You will also get a varying degree of results when you change the search terms to "San Francisco Detective Agency" or "Private Detective San Francisco".

Make Your Search Specific

The important point about a Google search for a private detective agency is that you be specific about the Bay Area city in which you are searching for the private detective in. Don't stick to just one search term when you are looking for a Bay Area P.I.. Also, don't forget that a Napa private investigator is likely to work in San Francisco or anywhere in the Bay Area because private investigators are licensed to conduct investigations in the entire State of California and have reciprocity in other states as well.

Experienced Private Detectives Matter

Make sure the private investigator you have chose has experience. Most private investigators start in law enforcement or other have relevant private sector experience. California requires private investigators to have at least 6,000 hours of investigative experience before submitting their application, having their background checked and sitting for the State exam.

Ask your private investigator what investigations they have undertaken that are similar to yours. Some investigators focus in on one or two areas -- such as a fire investigator.

How Many Years of Experience

Look for private investigators with several years of experience. If they don't have but a few years of experience, make sure it is in a very specific area that you need help with. A lot of private detectives have started in insurance investigations and began their careers in AOE/COE work or surveillance operations. If they are great at surveillance and that is something you need, by all means entertain their offer.

The longer a P.I. is been in business, the more likely that if they have several areas of expertise, they will be good in those practices. An investigator with 3 years of experience in 10 different practice areas will have very little experience in all of them. Look the years of experience to the amount of investigations they cover and see if the ratio makes sense.

References With a Pinch of Salt

Explore references. Look online at any number or resources to see what others are saying about the private investigator you are looking to hire. But, be cautious, not everyone is honest, even though you would think honesty is a good place to start for a private eye.

Also, please remember, that depending on the practice, some detectives have clients who really don't want to give testimonials, understandably so.

Keep in mind, too, that some online reviews are just plain false. Yes, some investigators pay for reviews. But, the bigger issue is people pretending to be clients leaving negative reviews when they never were engaged by the agency.

As well, some reviews are negatively slanted because the client was not properly given appropriate expectations (in part the agencies responsibility) or we have even seen negative reviews because the client didn't like the outcome. So, again, please take online reviews with a pinch of salt.

The Best Way To Review a Private Investigator

Explore multiple types of reviews. They can be reviews left on the P.I.s website or Online with sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, Thumbtack, etc. Couple the Online reviews with word of mouth, Online presence, attorney references and maybe a phone call or two to a reference being provided by the agency. The point is not to look in just one place when looking for reviews on an investigator — rather, look at the big picture and remember not to cast judgements without further cause, but look at negative remarks fairly.

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