Someone may try to work cases and charge clients by working as an unlicensed private investigator, but I’m going to reveal to you the top three most likely ways they’re going to get caught and busted by the state!
1. Caught by the state.
The first way is the state agency in charge of licensing will suspect someone is operating without a license and they’ll start an investigation themselves and pursue that person as an unlicensed investigator.
This may surprise you, but in my humble opinion, that’s the least likely way an unlicensed private investigator’s going to get caught!
My experience from working for years as a Licensed Private Investigator (and my very jaded opinion), is that the state agency in charge of issuing licenses is not out look for unlicensed investigators in order to protect the public.
Where I’ve seen my state licensing agency doing their most work is looking at existing agencies and seeing if they’re doing something wrong, specifically with paperwork.
I can tell you horror stories about agencies that have been fined. And the fines and penalties grow exponentially.
I know one guy who ran an agency. He did P.I. work and offered security services as well.
If I remember correctly, it was the date of hire for all of his private security personnel that was the problem. He had three hundred employees and the the date of hire on the forms was recorded as “day, month and year” and it was supposed to be in a “year, month and day” format. Innocent mistake.
Well, the state licensing agency looked at that and said, “My goodness, you have three hundred violations. That’s a hundred violations at ten dollars per violation plus it accrues every three days you’re not in compliance.”
He had three hundred security professionals that he immediately got finned for. The state went back and said, “You recorded this wrong for a year and a half. That’s 300 violations every 3 days!”
It was hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and penalties levied against him for having the date in the wrong order!
Not the wrong date, but the date in the wrong order!
That seems to me very disingenuous. There was no interest in the public’s well-being. This was a good guy and a good agency. He trained his people. It was purely a money grab by the state.
Fortunately, he was able to settle this for a much smaller fine and penalty. But still, that was not the state looking out for the citizens. That was not the state looking for unlicensed investigators or unlicensed security providers.
2. Clients report the unlicensed investigator.
The second way unlicensed investigators are discovered is because their clients are unhappy with the results they get and start to squawk and look for a way out of paying.
Again, I’ve been in this business for years and I don’t really see that happening too much but I think it’s much more likely that this is going to happen than the state discovering you and busting you.
Think about it…
If you’re operating without a license, now you’ve got a problem. Every potential client you’ve worked for unlicensed can easily say, “Gee-golly. I wonder if the state would be interested in this. Maybe you could cut me a discount on the price”. Then you either work for free or you’re getting busted!
3. Licensed Private Investigators turn you in!
The third and absolutely most likely way you’re going to get called out as an unlicensed private investigator is that the other detectives in your area are going to notice you and notify the state.
Look, no legitimate person out there is going to claim that this is an easy way to make money. It may be kind of fun. It may be what your aptitude is in. You may be, as I’ve talked about before, a natural born investigator. You’ve got it in your blood. You’ve got to do it! I totally relate!
That was me, one hundred percent. But don’t let anybody fool you saying this is an easy way to make money.
You’ve got to build up your clients. Yes, you can get to a point where you’re comfortable, but this is not something where in thirty days or six months you’re going to be making a good living!
What that means is, if other investigators see that you’re operating or soliciting clients, they will see you as taking money out of their pockets! And, believe me, they’re paying attention!
Licensed investigators are on the web. They’re looking. They’ve got alerts and updates coming to them automatically for certain key words.
In the old days, every year, you plopped open the new phone book, ran your finger down the column and said, “Who’s this new guy?”
Here, we are well into the 21st century, and you don’t have to wait a year for the phone book to come out to look for the new guy. The unlicensed investigator pops up automatically.
Think about the catch-22 for the person who’s trying to work unlicensed. He needs to get the word out that he’s there and available for the work but he’s got to stay under the radar of all the other investigators. Other P.I.’s will notice him and they will report him to the state licensing agency.
What does this mean for you? Number one, don’t work without a license. It’s just not worth it.
If you’re busted for offering investigative services without a license, that may disqualify you from ever getting your license in your state!
If you’re really dying for the experience, then put in the applications and work for licensed detective agencies. Or go work in retail in loss prevention working your way into an investigative position. Also, every major bank and all major companies have an investigative division. They may not call it that, but check it out.
Try to get into a job like those to build your experience and then enter this industry legitimately.
Look, it really comes down to what I share with you every single week. Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.
If you like this real-world information, then don’t miss my free special report If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, Private Investigator