Never Pick a Private Eye Based Only On Price

img_2470I write to inform the public about the work I do as a licensed private investigator. My subject this time: How to pick a private eye.

I have always said that our business is like a construction general contractor or other specialized service provider. You don’t want to pick a lawyer, CPA, dentist, eye doctor, college, auto mechanic or even a beer because he/she/it is the cheapest. You want to select based on quality and the likelihood that the professional will cure or solve your problem or get you answers. Continue reading

How A Private Investigator Helps Your Family Law Case

img_2447I’ve investigated and testified in family law and child custody cases in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. I’m sharing what I think it takes to win. No one can predict a trial or case outcome, but there are many steps you need to take to maximize your chances.

The keys to success? Teamwork and hard work. I had a recent case that involved issues of residency. Much of the case concerned whether the husband and wife, our adversaries, had been living together the last few years. Continue reading

Yes, No or Maybe For The P.I.

img_2341Client selection and case selection play large parts of how we run our business. These decisions not only impact our bank account but help ensure client satisfaction and results.

I like to explain how we work because there are so many misunderstandings about exactly what we do and how we do it. I can’t speak for every private investigator but can only provide information about our agency. Continue reading

Am I Dating a Married Man from Danville, California?

blog-marriageAt least three or four times a year we handle calls from potential clients who are wondering if they are dating a married man.

It’s not as simple as one might think to learn a person’s marital status in California. There is no single database of marriage and divorce information in California. There used to be a marriage index, but this only had records from about 1960 to 1985. You probably have a question list of things to consider: Does he ever have me over to his place, how come I never meet his family members, why is he so tight-lipped with information? Continue reading

Bay Area Real Estate Investigation Gets Real

photo89In a seller’s real estate market, the burden is even greater for the buyer to do due diligence and decision making lightning fast. Bar none, buying a house is the biggest financial decision you make in your life.

Choose wisely and not only do you enjoy the space and neighborhood where you and your family live but over time you will reap financial rewards from your investment. Choose poorly and every day you will invest energy in planning your exit and may suffer a big financial loss, headaches and other assorted despair. Continue reading

New Trustify “App” Takes Shortcuts on P.I. Domestic Cases

Fast, cheap and good never go together. After you read my diatribe, read about an app that has real private investigators shaking our heads. The concept is that people will pay $150 for two hours of spot surveillance on their possibly cheating partner, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe on someone they don’t even know.

Problems? Almost too many to list. Continue reading

Old School, New School for The Private Investigator

photo74Two concurrent events. I found a draft copy of my investigative thesis for graduate journalism school nearly 25 years ago and then last week completed an online class in social media and background investigations. I’ve investigated for a quarter of a century so I’m taking stock of the changes and differences from then to now.

I’m about to do what I don’t like about the internet: give advice. Who needs a list of “Eight must see vacation spots in Bulgaria” or “Five sure-fire ways to cure your slice”? Most advice articles bring on a case of MEGO, My Eyes Glaze Over. Continue reading

Serial Podcast Needs a Private Investigator

blog-serialI listened to the Serial podcast in two ways, as a former journalist and as a private investigator. We tend to be excessively critical when we watch, read or listen to something we know something about or do for a living. I discuss the show as a private eye who handles criminal defense investigations and then offer input as a former reporter. Continue reading

The Locate Two-Step

I receive many calls from people wanting to find people. In the PIĀ  business these are known as “locates” or locate assignments. The first question is almost always: how much will it cost?

I then ask a few questions of the client:

  • What is the reason for the search? Is it associated with a legal case? I am trying to assess whether there might be a restraining order involved. If a potential client has a restraining order against them or they are doing the search on behalf of a restrained person, I am not taking the case.

Continue reading

A Plan and Tips to Prevent Elder Abuse

photo42I’m just coming back from a great visit with my elderly parents. They have battled health problems but are both mentally sharp. They still live in their home, have each other and a mob of children and grandchildren to regularly check in on them.

But about a year or two ago my well-educated, savvy dad got conned by someone on the phone pretending to be his grandson in need of cash after a supposed auto accident in Europe. As far as cons go it was not a great but good enough to get my trusting dad to go down to Western Union and send about a $1000 to the crooks. At the time he did not tell my mother or anyone else about it and did not contact anyone who could have told him that grandson Jeff was not even in Europe. Continue reading