PHILIPPINES PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR ADVISORY – 2013
BACKGROUND: The Philippines is a beautiful but poverty stricken nation where fraud and scams run rampant. Unfortunately, this widespread fraud and corruption reaches all levels of Philippine society, including private investigators. There are many cases where clients seek investigation services or consultation from a so-called “professional” or “private investigator” in the Philippines, only to be scammed by the investigator. It is not uncommon for the local or amateur investigator to take the client’s money, and in return provide unacceptable service, or even no service at all. With the high level of unemployment and poverty in the Philippines, many locals have tried to take advantage of foreigners seeking investigation services. Other locals sincerely attempt to do the investigation or background check, but simply are not qualified or properly trained.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
1. Never use a “company” with no business address or phone number.
Perhaps the easiest way to distinguish the real investigation firm from the local individual or shady operation is to check their contact us page. A real investigation company has a secure contact us page on their website, with a business address and phone. In addition, a legitimate investigator will be happy to provide clients with a direct telephone number where he or she can be reached. If any given investigator refuses to provide this information, look elsewhere. Due to the high risk for fraud and incompetence, be skeptical of local companies and individuals.
2. If it’s too cheap, it’s probably too good to be true.
If an investigator claims to offer a remarkable service, at a very low price, it’s safe to assume you will get what you pay for. Real, professional and private investigation can be expensive. In the Philippines, there is an abundance of amateurs and very few professionals.
3. Beware of investigators that only accept Western Union or PayPal.
A reputable company or private investigator should have a website where the investigator accepts various forms of payment, including a secure site where you can pay by credit card, and bank transfer. A real business requires a real business bank account.
4. Choose an investigator who is available to discuss your case over the phone.
It can be hard to tell who you’re dealing with over the internet, so check to see if your investigator is available over the phone. Often a brief phone conversation will allow you to ask important questions and determine if the investigator is right for you. It also quickly shows you what kind of service to expect, since good client service means being available for a phone call.
5. Avoid websites that look unprofessional.
If the investigation company’s website looks unprofessional, chances are, the services are also unprofessional. Insufficient budgets and training for development of the business, which can be detected when viewing the website, will likely be reflected in other areas as well, such as reports, surveillance equipment, vehicles, etc. Expect to pay more for quality Philippines private investigator.
6. Ask if surveillance photos have time-date stamps.
Surveillance photographs during any professional investigation should have time-date stamps on them. This is industry standard and this type of photographic evidence should be included in daily reports to clients. If for any reason the investigator does not offer this service, you know this is not a professional, but rather a local or amateur lacking the proper experience and equipment.
7. Look for privacy seals and secure websites.
Since private investigation can involve sensitive information and details of a very private nature, look for a Philippines private detective with a website that displays privacy seals such as Truste. In additon, to be sure your information is safeguarded with adequate technology, check for additional seals such as McAfee and Better Business Bureau to ensure the website and company is reliable.
8. Buyer beware of any investigators who only accept PayPal.
While PayPal is a legitimate and secure payment option, a red flag should be raised if this is the only way to pay your investigator via a credit card. A professional investigation firm should offer various forms of payment options, from wire transfer, PayPal, to submitting your credit or debit card data directly via their secure website. Any real company also offers bank transfer. A website that only offers PayPal for payments is almost always an indication that you are dealing with an individual and not a real company.
9. Expect to pay a fair price.
Professional private investigation can be expensive. Rather than trying to save a few dollars by choosing an unknown or unqualified firm, try to work with a reputable company about the best option for you, and if an investigation will likely provide you with the evidence you need. Too often choosing a cheap investigator means money down the drain, or even worse, so choose carefully.
10. Be weary of any investigator who doesn’t speak English.
English is commonly spoken by the educated population in the Philippines. It is also necessary to conduct a proper investigation in the Philippines, since most people speak English in addition to their native language. An investigator who doesn’t speak English fluently is unqualified.
11. Choose a U.S., Canada or European managed company.
Due to the high level of fraud and corruption throughout Philippine society, try to find and use a company like Philippines PI that is managed or owned by a U.S., Canadian or European company. This will ensure the company is managed according to stricter standards, and is held accountable for safer business practices and ethics of the United States, Canada or Western Europe.
12. Stear clear of investigators with no references.
Prior to paying for an investigator, search the internet for references of the investigator or company. Chances are you can learn what others are saying about the company. If you can’t find enough information on the internet, you should ask the company for a reference.