Private Investigator Frequently Asked Questions
Find your answers.
Can you get someone’s private records, like a police report or medical file?
Not unless that person has signed a release authorizing me to obtain that information. However, I can attempt to find out whether private records exist. Learn more about private records.
Can you secretly record or report on a conversation with someone?
No. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.
Can you hack into someone’s phone, e-mail or social media accounts?
No. That is illegal. If you need information from someone’s personal accounts for a legal matter, your attorney should be able to get a court order to obtain those records from the service providers.
What information can you legally find out then?
I can legally discover where someone lives, works, owns real property or other assets, has a business, is married or not, where they go and what they do in public, and who their friends and relatives may be, if they have any criminal or civil court records, including bankruptcies, and more. I also investigate businesses.
Can you find out someone's bank balance?
Ocassionally yes, but usually no. Learn more about locating bank accounts.
Can you tell me what court forms I need for judgment enforcement or how to fill out those forms?
No. Only an attorney, licensed Legal Document Assistant or you, yourself, can complete legal documents.
What does it mean to “take assignment” of my judgment?
You will sign an acknowledgement telling the court that you have “assigned” the judgment to me. That will make me the creditor of the judgment and you will no longer own the judgment. After that, any payments the debtor makes will be made to me. Learn more about judgment assignment.
How do you charge for judgment assignment?
I take 50 percent of whatever I can collect from the principal and interest of the judgment, after covering any costs that may have incurred in order to enforce the judgment. You and I will sign a contract stating that half of whatever I collect will be paid to you in a timely manner.
If I assign you my judgment, will I have to pay any of the fees related to collecting it?
No. After assigning the judgment to me, I will pay any and all fees associated with enforcement efforts.
If I assign you my judgment, will I have to appear in any court hearings related to it?
No. Once I become the “assignee” or “creditor” of the judgment, I’m responsible for any and all enforcement efforts, including any court appearances.
If I assign you my judgment, can you guarantee collection of the full amount?
No. There are too many factors involved to make promises. I have incentive to work diligently to collect whatever I can, but sometimes I will end enforcement efforts if I believe the debtor cannot pay any more.
What areas do you serve?
San Fancisco and San Mateo counties only. I offer referrals for reliable servers in other parts of the Bay Area and Northern California so drop me an e-mail and I’ll send you their info.
After they’re served, do you provide a “proof of service” form?
Yes. I’ll complete the form and send it to you in the mail. File that form with the court as “proof” your defendant was served.
What happens if they don’t get served?
I will prepare a “due diligence” report stating dates, times and notes about service attempts. This can be added to the court file and may be useful to show you’ve been diligently trying to notify your defendant.
Can you tell me what forms I need or how to fill out court forms?
No. Only an attorney, licensed Legal Document Assistant or you, yourself, can complete legal documents. Be sure your paperwork is complete and correct before paying for process service.
I need somebody served but I don’t know where they live. Can you help?
Yes. Check out the skip trace & locate service.
If they aren’t home when you show up, how long do you wait?
I usually spends 3-5 minutes knocking and ringing the doorbell, trying to get the attention of the occupants inside. If you have an evasive subject and prefer me to wait for them to enter or leave their location, consider the hourly rate stakeout service.
What time of day do you usually serve people?
Service attempts are made during different time blocks on different days of the week to increase the chances of finding them at the location, and also to satisfy court diligence requirements. That includes early mornings, evenings and weekends.
Pricing and Payment
What are your rates?
Rates vary depending on the service and are listed on each service page. When browsing this site for the services you're interested in, you'll find the rates listed on those pages.
How do you accept payment?
The invoice will include a secure link to use a credit card online if you choose. I also accept checks to my mailing address shown at the bottom of this page.
What’s a Retainer Agreement and why would I need one?
It’s a service contract that outlines my assignment and the amount you will deposit towards the fee. I use this for multi-hour investigation assignments.
Do I get a refund if you’re unable to get the results I requested?
No. Payment is for legal and reasonable efforts to discover the information you’re seeking. There is no guarantee as to the results of the investigation.