• Rafe MacLennan

So, you need a Private Investigator – how do you choose the right one?

If you have come to the decision to hire a private investigator, then something has occurred to cause you concern in either your personal life or your business endeavours that you're not able to solve yourself. You have now taken the leap and decided you require the assistance of experienced and qualified investigators to help you. An internet search of your local area will bring up an extensive list of private investigators, so how do you know which one is right for you?


A major factor in choosing to engage the services of a private investigator is cost. Everyone has the boundaries of a budget to work within. Investigation companies also come in varying sizes from independent operators to multinational firms with hundreds of employees. Your needs as an individual or company will vary, so the decision on whether you can get away with one private detective helping you or whether you need an entire team working around the clock will depend on the scope and complexity of your investigation.


The majority of private investigators provide the same services, but would you hire an investigator in Western Australia if you needed an investigator on the Sunshine Coast? Probably not. You would search locally first; however, you would want an investigation company to have the contacts and ability to take your investigation to anywhere in Australia or any country in the world if that is where the investigation takes you.

Is the private investigator appropriately licensed?

To conduct the 'trade' of a private eye and surveillance operative, an individual must be licensed in whichever Australian state or territory they conduct their business in. The only exception to this rule is in the Australian Capital Territory. An Investigation and security company in Queensland must also hold a firms licence.

In Queensland, this is legislated under the Security Providers Act 1993, which allows a private investigator to carry out surveillance for obtaining private information about another person, without the other person’s express consent.

To employ someone without a current and valid security licence would destroy any case you may have against someone and open yourself up to litigation should the investigation be compromised for whatever reason or if it is proceeding through the courts.

Does the company offer the latest spy phone and tracking software solution to secretly install on your partners phones?

There are many choices of spyware available to install on all manner of devices. But one thing people do not seem to realise is that it is ILLEGAL to do this without the express consent of the owner of the device. This applies to Australia and most other first world countries around the world. If a company offers this, please read the fine print before you purchase the product!

Spyware and GPS tracking devices are an excellent way of keeping 'tabs' on people and property, but they need to be used appropriately and lawfully. If you have any queries about their use, please contact AOSG and we will explain how they can be used lawfully and appropriately to hopefully assist you with your needs.


Private investigators are in the business of evidence gathering. The most widely used and court approved tool is the video camera. They say a picture's worth a thousand words and any decent private investigator will use high definition video to capture the movements of the 'subject' of your investigation. Any reputable investigation company should provide you with a comprehensive report of their investigations at the closure of the investigation including copies of the video surveillance and still photographs should you request or require it.

Missing persons

When searching for missing persons, a private detective’s methods range from the traditional gumshoe approach of pounding the pavement and making inquiries with the neighbours to the high tech; including computer and database searches to locate the whereabouts of that person.

Australia has very strict privacy laws that are respected by reputable companies, so some information cannot be obtained without a warrant from a court or the subject’s expresses consent. If an investigator tells you they can obtain the financial records of someone from a financial institution without a warrant be wary!!

In the case of missing persons, if you have a genuine concern for the persons’ welfare and safety your first point of contact should be the police. If you are trying to find a long lost relative or the police are not able to assist you due to the protracted nature of the investigation, then that is when you should consider engaging the services of a private investigator.

Ethical Private investigators

All investigation companies should be transparent and trustworthy and provide you with access to their reports, receipts and any costs incurred as a result of your investigation needs should you request it. When you are doing your research on who to use, ask them if they will be willing to provide copies of these items and be careful of engaging the services of those who baulk at this request.

Some investigation agents and companies work strictly to the hour and are not willing to go the extra distance to provide exemplary customer service. Time is money after all. Although it is quite reasonable for an investigation company to expect payment for their time, there are some that will go that extra mile for their clients, because they understand the value of good customer service!

How much does a private investigator cost?

Everyone's needs vary from situation to situation, so quotes will vary depending on what you require. It is best to contact the detective agency directly and speak with a qualified private investigator who should be able to provide you a list of their services, so you can decide which one is more suitable.

A private investigator in Australia generally charges somewhere between $80 and $165 an hour for their services. Due to the nature of surveillance work, there may be a need to use multiple surveillance operatives to maintain a high standard of professionalism and continuity. This is not an uncommon practice within the investigation industry; however it will come at an additional cost, so you will need to weigh up your needs against your budget.

For the majority of surveillance contracts, there will be a minimum of a four hour upfront callout fee. This is generally to cover going to and from the location with a reasonable surveillance coverage in between with time to complete the report. Any time after this should be negotiated with you and included in your contract agreement.

Why choose AOSG as your private investigation company?

  • At AOSG we maintain a currency in all our licences and ensure anyone working for us is appropriately licensed.

  • What we offer is an affordable solution to your problem. Our rates are highly competitive. We are dedicated and highly trained professionals who listen and genuinely want to help you and all your questions will be answered to the best of our ability!

  • At AOSG, we are dedicated to providing a professional and ethical service and we wish to assist you with your investigations and surveillance needs anyway we can. When you contact us, we will listen to your needs to tailor our services more appropriately and provide you a no obligation quote for our services.

  • AOSG has access to extensive databases that can greatly reduce the hours to locate someone which in turn will greatly reduce the cost to you.

  • If you choose to engage our services, we will provide you with a written quote and contract to be signed before commencement of the investigations. We will go through the quote with you prior to commencement and make any necessary changes if needed to suit your needs and budgetary requirements.

  • We will listen to you and do whatever we can to help you. With our experience in operational environments, we will be able to provide you with solutions that may better suit your needs and hopefully reduce your expenses at the same time. We would like you to remember that your business is important to us and we are employed by YOU!

  • We are honest. You may see some companies offering 100% guaranteed results. Unfortunately, in life there is no such thing. People are at most unpredictable and life has a way of throwing a curve ball at you. We would love to offer you this; however, we cannot unless you have an unlimited budget and all the time in the world, which for most of us is impossible. If a person suspects their spouse is cheating on them, they don't usually have the many thousands of dollars needed to run a continuous 24/7 investigation and surveillance operation spanning many months to ‘catch' them out, so what we offer is a tactical intelligence driven approach that conforms to your budget that we are sure you will be 100% happy with! We will offer you the best solution for your problem within your budget constraints and we will commit ourselves 100% to helping you until you are 100% satisfied that everything that can be done has been done.

AOSG is a Sunshine Coast private investigation and security company with agents across Australia and around the world. AOSG has an experienced international team who regularly conduct complex insurance investigations on behalf of Australian insurance companies and law firms. This experience is also extended to individual clients who might have concerns about their partners faithfulness while they are travelling overseas. If you are interested in learning some of the signs to determine if your partner is being unfaithful, read my other blog “Do you suspect your partner is being unfaithful” here at


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