Claude Bookout is President of United Investigations International, a private investigations firm located in Austin, Texas. ( Texas license number: C9472

Blog updated monthly.

United International Investigations is an experienced private investigations firm with a reputation for integrity, dependability, and thoroughness. The firm provides its clients with a broad range of investigative assistance. Corporations, law firms, and prominent individuals have relied on its professional team of investigators to obtain power and control over their particular situations.

Answering some frequently asked questions

As noted in several blog entries, people may need an investigator for a variety of reasons. Hiring a private investigator can be overwhelming for someone who has never done so. Whenever I receive a call from a potential client, he or she frequently asks the following: "I have never needed an investigator before in my life. I would like to know how your services work, how much it costs, and what information do you need from me?" In this short post, I would like to answer these questions and present a few things that are important to consider when hiring a professional investigator.

How do your services work? When you hire any private investigator, he or she will ask you to sign an agreement for services. Within this agreement, your rights and his or her responsibilities will be specifically outlined. It is important that you read this document. I have made it a policy to present this information directly on the front page of my website. I feel that it is important that my clients understand that I am serious about our relationship and they are not surprised by any hidden fees. Almost all private investigators, like other legal professionals, require a retainer. This is essentially a refundable deposit that demonstrates that you have the financial means to pay for services rendered. Whenever any service is performed—and my company’s policy is to obtain permission from the client before performing a service—the payment is deducted from the retainer. Typically, private investigators will charge an hourly rate for surveillance-related activities and will charge flat fees for information gathering and document production. However, there are several services that are charged both at an hourly rate, plus additional feed. All of these, of course, are specified in the contract.

Services work best when there is quality communication between the client and the investigative agency. A quality investigator will be able and willing to explain the importance of a service before performing it. He or she will also always avoid ethically questionable or illegal practices. Every case is different, of course, so I cannot be specific about investigative practices without hearing your case. However, I think that by understanding clearly the business-related matters my clients feel comfortable with my approach to investigations.

How much does it cost? It is always difficult to answer this question because every case is different. If you can provide more intelligence in the beginning, this may save some costs. If the target of an investigation is very active or “sloppy,” important evidence may be obtained quickly and the overall cost of an investigation may be reduced. On the other hand, an investigation requiring more investigators, intelligence gathering, and technical expertise will likely increase the total cost of an investigation. It is my policy, however, to charge my clients the same hourly rate. This is all described in our contract, which is available on our website ( This means that we, unlike several investigators, do not first “size up the client” and charge a higher hourly rate to those who seem to have greater financial resources. Our clients also do not have to worry about us quoting a lower rate but charging for more services. In short, I have made it a policy to be transparent. While I would like to be hired by readers, I know that you will shop around. At the very least, an investigator should be willing to provide for you a price list of services. If she or he cannot, you ought to consider whether you are getting a fair deal.

What information do you need from me? Understandably, many people who need to hire a private investigator do not want to give too many details when initially speaking to a private investigator. Nevertheless, certain details are necessary to get a better understanding of a case so that I can give a reasonable estimate of the type of services needed to be successful. Additionally, understanding the need of a client or the patterns of behavior of a potential target can help develop a better understanding of what will be required to produce successful results. This is why it is likely you’ll have to give some details during the initial phone conversation about the case. If you do decide to hire a private investigator you’ll obviously have to disclose some personal information so that we can enter into a legal relationship and provide any evidence or materials that will enhance the investigation and reduce the overall costs. As noted in the agreement, however, privacy is an important issue and we will reasonably, within the parameters of the law, protect your identity and any evidence produced during an investigation. You should feel comfortable with whomever you hire and by choosing someone who is licensed, you’ll know that you’re hiring someone who is regulated by your state’s Department of Public Safety. I hope that my company, United International Investigations, will make you feel confident that your case is being handled by professionals.