Frequently Asked Questions
C4SEM offers 24/7 expert investigative services nationwide with offices in Maryland, Virginia, DC, and Indiana to meet your business's specific needs.
Q: Who hires private investigators?
Law firms, corporations, insurance companies, private parties, and entities not involved with the government or police all have reasons to procure the services of a private investigator.
Q: How does hiring a private investigator through C4SEM® work?
1. Start Your Case: Get a consultation with a Case Advisor or simply start your case online for faster service
2. Talk To Your Investigator: Advisor will match you with the investigator best suited to your needs for you to consult with. When you’re ready, our team will start working on your case.
3. Track Your Investigation: Your investigator will stay in touch with you at every step of the way with updates and evidence. They’re there to help you get the results you need.
4. Final Report: Once your case is closed, you’ll get a full case report along with any evidence collected. Hiring an investigator for a legal matter? Investigators can also testify in court.
Q: Where are you located? Can you help me in my area?
We are operating in most states, but we have offices in Maryland, Virginia, DC, and Indiana.
Q: How much does it cost to start a case and how long a case would take?
Each investigation is unique and cases can vary based on several variables.
Services are charged on a per-hour. In general, rates will depend on the level and the type of case. Typically research cases can range anywhere from 3-10 hours and surveillance cases can range anywhere from 4-20+ hours. Research cases are anything that can be done using databases and other resources that can be accessed remotely. This includes finding people, catfishing investigations, background checks, and more. Surveillance cases are anything that requires a private investigator to be physically present at a location. This includes infidelity surveillance, child custody cases where you might need photographic evidence of certain behavior or interviews of witnesses that have to be conducted in person.
Q: What qualifications do investigators in your network hold?
The majority of the investigators have military, law enforcement, or federal government experience in surveillance and investigations. All C4SEM® investigators have extensive experience.
Q: What can a private investigator do for me?
Investigators typically perform either real-time observation or digital investigation to get evidence for any number of purposes. A real-time observation specialist can help you get photos or other evidence of an action as it is happening (ex: observing an exchange). A digital researcher can help you find records (such as civil or criminal records) or people. Our investigators have helped individuals and businesses uncover insurance fraud, and catfishers, find missing relatives and children, catch unfaithful spouses, find stolen cars and property, and more.
Q: Can a private investigator hack into a cell phone to get records, texts, or other data?
It is illegal to get cell phone records, texts, or other data by hacking into a phone or misleading cell phone companies. However, private investigators use other methods to help you. Any evidence collected by hacking illegally would be inadmissible in court and could leave both the investigator and you, the client, in legal jeopardy. However, if your goal is to find out whom someone is contacting there are alternative methods that can be used, e.g. interviews. If the goal is to uncover evidence of cheating, surveillance, and digital research methods are legal, effective, and admissible in court.
Q: Can a private investigator take pictures of someone in their home? This depends on the state. However, investigators are skilled at finding ways to get evidence when the subject is in a public place and photos can be taken. Investigators cannot break the law. However, they are skilled at getting the information they need within the bounds of the law. Physical surveillance by an experienced investigator can get evidence that is usable in court without breaking the law.
Q: Can a private investigator use GPS tracking on a car?
GPS tracking on cars is possible, with some legal restrictions at the state and federal levels.
Q: Can a private investigator hack into a device and get emails?
No. Getting texts or emails requires a subpoena or permission from the owner of the phone or email account. However, investigators can conduct surveillance to find out what’s happening. Any service that offers to get texts or emails off of a device without the owner’s permission is almost certainly breaking the law. However, if your goal is to uncover evidence of wrongdoing/infidelity, investigators can help you get the information you need legally and without leaving you legally liable. Surveillance, social media searches, and metadata collection are just a few of the ways an investigator can figure out whom someone is talking to or what they’re doing.
Q: Can a private investigator track a cell phone? Generally speaking, no. However, private investigators can track people using both surveillance and digital methods. Tracking a cell phone without the permission of the owner is illegal. Most methods of tracking violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), no matter whether the investigator “pings” the phone, uses spyware, or any other method. Any evidence collected in this way would be inadmissible in court and could lead to legal action against the investigator and you, the client. However, investigators are skilled at pulling metadata from social media investigations and other online interactions to track someone, as well as conducting physical surveillance to uncover infidelity. These methods are effective at tracking people and can get you useful evidence that is admissible in court.
Q: Can a private investigator take pictures of someone in their home?
This depends on the state. However, investigators are skilled at finding ways to get evidence when the subject is in a public place and photos can be taken. Investigators cannot break the law. However, they are skilled at getting the information they need within the bounds of the law. Physical surveillance by an experienced investigator can get evidence that is usable in court without breaking the law.
Q: Are private investigators allowed to trespass on private property?
Generally, no. However, investigators know how to get evidence in other ways without breaking the law. Private investigators cannot break the law, but they can still get evidence. Investigators in the C4SEM® have years of experience, often in law enforcement or related fields. They operate within the boundaries of the law and have many years of experience performing investigations legally and ethically.
Q: In surveillance cases, how do investigators follow people without getting caught?
The simple answer to this question is that our investigators are vetted to ensure they have extensive experience and therefore know what they’re doing The overwhelming majority of private investigators in our have at least 4 years of experience and this is what makes the difference. Investigators have to make many decisions instantly during an investigation, and it takes a skilled investigator to be able to anticipate what is going to happen and take the appropriate steps. It's important to note that regardless of how much experience and skill the investigator has, they're not invisible. Certain circumstances or events can cause them or their vehicle to be noticed. Our investigators are aware of this and take extensive precautions to avoid detection.
Q: What is the difference between on-location and remote research?
On-location means the private investigator is physically on-site. Remote research typically involves electronic research and investigation. A case is considered “on-location” when it requires an investigator to be physically on-site with the subject of interest, often to get photographs and/or video footage. Remote research is usually done through databases and other online resources and can be conducted from any state or location.
Q: Will anyone know I have hired a private investigator?
No. Our services are 100% confidential. We take your privacy very seriously - no one other than you, your investigator, and a select few employees at C4SEM® will know you have hired a private investigator. We recommend to our clients that they don’t tell anyone, especially children, family, or friends, that they have hired a private investigator until the investigation is complete.
Q: Are there additional fees or expenses outside of the hourly rate that I should anticipate?
Yes, for example, additional fees may be required for travel and things like access to specialized databases. You will always be asked to approve any fees before they are charged.
Q: On average what is the cost of hiring a private investigator?
On average, a private investigator can charge anywhere from $125.00 to $250.00 per hour for professional services ranging from performing background checks to conducting surveillance operations; just like lawyers, we will frequently request a retainer or an upfront fee; retainers will charge against your retainer and refund any excess. Retainers can range from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the circumstances of your case.
Q: Can investigators testify in court?
Yes, investigators can testify in court for you, however, there are costs involved and permission is needed from your investigator.
Your investigator will need to be compensated for their hours in addition to any fees paid for the investigation itself. Please make sure you discuss with our team the need for them to testify in court during your initial consultation so there are no misunderstandings.
Q: Do accept credit card payments?
Yes, we accept all major credit cards. Click here to pay your bill online.