What is a “No-Hit Fee”?

As a private investigator you may sometimes be charged a “No-Hit Fee” when you do a database search or you may charge a client a no-hit fee, but what exactly is a no hit fee?

A “no-hit fee” is is a charge that is paid when a database is searched and no “match” (no “hit”) is found for the information entered.

For example, you may have a cell phone number you want to trace to find out the name or address of the cell phone owner. So you bring up one of the database services you use (you’ll have a few and some are better than others for turning around a cell phone number), then you’ll type the phone number into the search box and press enter.

You know this database charges (let’s just say) $7.95 if they have that cell phone number in their database and they are able to give you a name or address. However…

If they don’t have that number in their database, your user agreement with them may still stipulate that you pay a (let’s say) $1.25 “no-hit fee” meaning they did the “work” and expense of maintaining the database, but still had no match for the number you searched so they still want some (smaller) compensation.

WARNING: Some database services (especially those on the Internet and open to the general public) will return ANY info (no matter how old!) and charge you the full prices (like the $7.95) because, although the information is not “current”, their user agreement states any “hit” cost you full price!

So… you need to really understand your user agreement and be very picky about the databases you use! Beware of the rip off, scam websites out there.

How much is a no-hit fee?

No-Hit Fees vary in price. They are usually much, much less than the cost of a successful search.

Can a private investigator or process server charge a no-hit fee to his or her clients?


It’s VERY common for a process server to charge (let’s say) $50 to serve a packet, but to charge (let say) $35 after three failed attempts at the address at three different times of day. (The conditions of a “no-hit fee” are spelled out in the contract or client agreement you have with your client.)

When I was skip tracing regularly, I would commonly charge $350 with a no-hit fee of $125 even if I didn’t find the skip.

Is a “no-hit fee” fair?


For a rip-off website that KNOWS their information is out of date and useless, they may brag of NOT charging a no-hit fee! Heck, they know they’re going to give you some kind of result, so they don’t need a no hit fee.

Note Well: Just because an investigator or database doesn’t charge a no-hit fee does NOT mean they are a scam! They may just be really good! I use to brag in my sales material that I didn’t charge a no-hit fee on ordinary service of process!

Here’s why…

I knew I would serve plenty of packets successfully (and profitably) so the occasional miss was just the cost of doing business and I didn’t need to make it up by charging my clients for a “fail”. This was a promise I could make to my clients that no other process server was willing to make!

Could you do the same to get new clients to choose your service above the “competition”? I suspect you can!

If you like this helpful information, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. If not, you can get it right here…

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Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, Private Investigator

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