I was hesitant about writing a post on Retainer Agreements and other policies regarding the hiring of a private investigator, but after reviewing outstanding invoices and fielding phone calls from potential and current clients, I wanted to explain how the majority of private investigators operate with regards to payment and inquiries. This post is simply just an explanation to help you understand this business.


Private Investigator Retainers in PennsylvaniaThis is a binding contract that protects the client and private detective agency by laying out the terms and conditions of an investigation conducted by the private investigator. Depending on the agency, like any other profession, the format for these Agreements varies.

Typically, private investigators require this Agreement prior to the start of an investigation, which includes a retainer fee to serve as the initial budget amount for a case. Some services provided by a private investigator are flat rate fees. This arrangement is no different than how attorneys usually operate their business.

Our policy requires new clients, including first time attorneys, to provide a retainer fee up front before any service is provided. We still reserve the right to require up front payment for any client.

Exceptions to these fees are generally reserved for insurance companies and other clients that are in good standing.


Many potential and current clients still need to be reminded that private investigators are NOT ATTORNEYS. The primary post on this blog is dedicated to this subject. There are some questions we can answer that directly impact how an investigation is being conducted, but attorneys should be consulted for specific legal advice.


When making an inquiry for private investigation services, this usually should take no longer than a maximum of 10 minutes. The consultation should be reserved for the type of services you are requesting, the amount you are willing to budget, and when you would like the investigation to begin.


It is necessary to keep in contact with clients while conducting an investigation. But follow up phone calls are generally limited to provide updates and obtain additional information. These phone calls should also remain short in duration. Most private investigators are sensitive to the needs of a client and want to assist them in a professional manner, but unfortunately frequent phone calls to an investigator that are just general in nature can impede your investigation and those of other clients, and in some instances be charged to your retainer fee if the excessive amount of calls start to add up to a lot of down time.

There are instances where contact with the client may require a lengthy discussion, but ordinarily most communication can be kept to a reasonable amount of time.

I hope this article helps guide you when you need to consult a private investigator, or have an open investigation with one. It is important to understand that time is very valuable not only to the investigator, but to the client as well because you want to allow the investigator to work their cases, and make every effort not to keep costs reasonable.

~Jeff Reichart

Reichart & Associates Investigative Services, LLC


Private investigators that serve Reading, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Schuylkill, Pottstown, Chester, Pottsville, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Harrisburg and all of eastern Pennsylvania.

The information contained in this article is copyrighted material and cannot be reposted wholly or in part without prior consent of the owner.

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