How to choose a private detective?

Many who want to use the services of a private detective quickly become confused by the variety of options found on the Internet, and struggle to sort the wheat from the chaff… In response to the growing number of questions from clients who contact us, this short article lists a few important points to check, and the pitfalls to avoid.

A regulated profession

First of all, make sure that the detective agency you are contacting exists from a legal standpoint (K-bis, SIRET, etc…), has been approved by the Conseil des Activités Privées de Sécurité (CNAPS) and has all the necessary authorizations to practice. This is the case for all private detective agencies that are members of Groupe Indicia.

Beware of offers that seem too good to be true!

Then, beware of abnormally low prices, “bargain” ads such as sales or “Black Friday” offers, or offers of fictitious discounts if the contract is signed immediately… Designed to entice potential customers, these dubious and seductive practices often involve either concealed or undeclared work, or deceptive commercial practices with the aim of forcing a sale and/or selling services well above the initially advertised price… Referred to in Article L. 121-1 et seq. of the French Consumer Code, they are also criminally reprehensible (2 years of imprisonment and a €300,000 fine) and may be accompanied by additional penalties, as provided for in Articles 131-39 and R.635-2 of the French Criminal Cod

A liberal profession and a duty to advise

When choosing a private detective, bear in mind that the latter is a professional, subject to a duty of advice. As a liberal profession, the detective provides intellectual services in compliance with professional ethics. As a professional in the field of evidence gathering, a detective does not sell finished products at “hard discount” prices. Instead, they offer you a high value-added investigative service, the benefits of which are assessed in light of his legal expertise, field experience, and analytical and writing skills, in order to provide you with a legally admissible mission report. It should also be pointed out that there is no “ranking” or “podium” for the best detective or the best investigation agency! Many sites advertising services unrelated to the regulated profession of private detective, specialize in listing professionals in a given sector of activity, for a fee, in order to put them in touch with potential clients. A plethora of sites, for the most part temporary, appear regularly and sometimes aggressively and insistently canvass professionals by offering them misleading labels, for a fee, that sow confusion in the public mind: “Top Pro 2020”, “Voted Best Agency 2019”, etc.

détective Paris, Montpellier, Lyon

Example of a misleading label sent by these sites to professionals as part of email campaigns

In view of the detrimental effect this can have on the person seeking the services of a serious and experienced private detective, we advise you to take the time to establish a relationship of trust with the detective you are seeking. Each branch manager at Groupe Indicia will take the time to examine your case in detail, providing technical and legal expertise, legal solutions and a rigorous investigation methodology to achieve the desired results.

How to choose a private detective: ethics

The collection of evidence by a private detective must comply with the legal principles of legality, loyalty and proportionality so that their findings are admissible in court. All Groupe Indicia employees are legally trained to effectively plan the best investigation strategy according to your problem, the relevant jurisdiction for your case and the applicable case law.Thus, when choosing your private detective, steer clear of any so-called “technical” services offered by self-proclaimed “specialists”, such as the use of cameras and spy microphones to “catch” alleged lovers, the installation of spyware programs (spyware, Trojans, etc.) on your employee’s computer or the illicit surveillance of your wife’s or husband’s telephone.

In addition to the evidence obtained through such procedures being rejected by the courtsand the lack of ethical rigor these methods reveal, such practices are first and foremost completely illegal. In addition, as a client, you may be held criminally liable under Articles 226-3 and 323-1 et seq. of the French Criminal Code. Please note that the mere advertising and possession of such equipment is punishable by 5 years of imprisonment and a €300,000 fine.Let this be a warning to fans of such gadgets, which are often bought at low prices on Chinese websites: the lack of quality and reliability is matched only by the criminal risk incurred!

How to choose a private detective: fees

Whether being charged at a fixed price, or an hourly or daily rate, ask for a detailed quote from the agency you’re in contact with. This document must specify the resources used, the number of agents/vehicles, any expenses (assignment expenses, travel expenses, etc.) and the time spent on the assignment. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see dishonest colleagues invoicing for “all-inclusive” surveillance packages, but who in fact carry out very few interventions in the field, thereby reducing the working time devoted to the assignment and ultimately bringing the hourly rate to prohibitive prices ranging from €200 to €300/hour! For more information on these topics, read our article: How much does a private detective cost?

Each case must therefore be the subject of a detailed quote or fee agreement, must set out a legal investigation strategy proportionate to the objectives sought, and begin with the signature of an engagement contract specifying the general conditions of the service to be provided. At the end of the investigations, a detailed assignment report signed by the branch manager must be given to you, listing the work carried out in relation to the fees invoiced, the results obtained and enabling you to use the report as evidence in proceedings before the courts of the various jurisdictions.

How to choose a private detective: choosing Groupe Indicia

Groupe Indicia can guarantee professional secrecy and compliance with the profession’s Code of Ethics. We offer you legal investigations and a detailed fee agreement that matches the investigative acts to be carried out. With agencies across the nation, do not hesitate to seek out our detectives in Paris, Montpellier, Rennes, Lyon, Nîmes, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, Vannes, Annecy and Geneva.


In conclusion, a private detective must be chosen in a free and informed manner. Detectives are required to have a diploma and a license to practice issued by CNAPS. These are the first aspects that must be verified by any future client. What’s more, since private detectives are duty-bound to advise you, the chosen investigator must inform you fairly and objectively about your case and not suggest investigations that they know are impossible or wholly illegal (smartphone hacking, purchase and use of spy micro-cameras, etc.). You may be held criminally liable, as a perpetrator or accomplice. Beware of dubious commercial offers, “hard discount” reductions, abnormally low prices or “bogus” labels such as “Top Pro 2020”, which often conceal deceptive commercial practices. It is important to establish a relationship of trust with the private detective agency you contact, and to have a contact person who listens to your problems.