My name is Daniel L. Maya, owner of Maya & Maya Inc, and until recently, I have stayed out of a controversy among my colleagues. However, I do, in my opinion, have a valid argument that I would like to make now. There is a big difference between real licensed investigative agencies and PI Dispatchers.
Most investigators, like myself, join the investigative industry to help people. They, like us, are licensed by their state’s regulatory board and go through all the requirements to be able to call themselves a licensed private investigator. Why is all this important? Because it safeguards the public’s welfare and the integrity of the profession. Lately, I have seen a trend via “Google Ad Words” where certain investigators “Pirates,” I will call them – because they are not licensed to do complete the tasks they are advertising – pitch investigative services in states where they are unlicensed.
Let me explain.
When you hire a doctor based on their qualifications, education, certifications, and experience – would you feel comfortable with that doctor subcontracting out his services to a different doctor who lacks the experience you were seeking? Would you be okay with that same doctor invoicing you a premium rate because of his experience while his – novice – doctor performed the procedure? Would you be okay in knowing that the doctor you hired is unlicensed and unregulated in your state? Most of us wouldn’t. Unfortunately, this is exactly what’s happening in our industry. Currently, there are unlicensed and unregulated companies who act like so called “dispatchers” by sub-contracting the work to other investigators. They take your case, manage the investigation, accept fees from you, and in turn, submit evidence to you. They handle the entire case and investigation – remember, these companies are unregulated and unlicensed in the state.
How do these “Pirates” get away with this? By hiring a local private investigator at a fraction of the cost. An investigator who you did NOT hire to begin with and may lack the experience and certification you were seeking.
In the three states where I am licensed, Florida, California, and New York, I was required to go through regulatory testing, a background screening run by the FBI, supply verification of education and, finally, had to show documented experience. All of this was done so I could get licensed and offer investigative services in those states. Furthermore, in Florida and California, it is a criminal offense to work as a private investigator without an active and valid license.
Why is this pirating trend so problematic? Very simply, you are being sold services that are regulated in that state by a company that is not licensed nor authorized to perform such service or, even, follow the state-imposed regulations. So, the argument is they hire a local private investigator that they have supposedly vetted. Really? You can do that yourself. At the end of this article, I will put links where you can verify licenses in the states of Florida, New York, and California.
When you’re sick, you call you friends and family and ask for a referral and look for reviews. You call the doctor and make an appointment, and go to a physical office for that visit. Private investigations should be approached the same way. You need to screen your investigator the same way you screen your doctor. If your investigator has a local office, visit them. Look for the required postings, certificates, degrees, and other proof that they are following state regulations. Why would you pay for a doctor through a referral service and then accept service from a contractor being paid less than half of what you paid? That doesn’t make sense, logically or economically.
I will empower you to do your own research and hire a local private investigative agency that is properly licensed in the state you are seeking private investigation services from. Many of us in this amazing field and career are former military, law enforcement officers, paralegals, federal law enforcement, or journalists. We come from many different walks of life and try to help our clients, whether the have a corporate, insurance, or personal / domestic issue, to the best of our ability with integrity and honesty.
It is a requirement in the state of Florida, if you’re advertising in print or digitally, to post your license number on the advertisement. In Florida, that license starts with an ‘A’ and is followed by numbers. My agency’s number is A2300340, which means ‘A’ is the term for a private investigative agency and 23 means 2003, the year my agency license was issued. The rest of the numbers are assigned randomly, perhaps indicating the number of licenses issued in that year.
With all of this information in mind, I hope you are empowered to make an informed decision on who you are hiring. Do not be afraid to ask questions, to visit a local office whenever possible, to meet the professional in person, to request a contract, and to ask to see a state-issued Private Investigator License within your state.
God Speed and Good Luck.
The following links are for your assistance to verify licenses and the two professional associations in Florida that you could verify if someone is a member of that organization as well: