How much does it cost to hire a private investigator?2016-09-12T10:04:30-04:00

The quick answer is anywhere from $50-$200 per hour. But this is depends on you state and even city, as well it depends on what service you are hiring the private investigator for.

Read our FAQ on How to hire a private investigator for a more in depth commentary.

But there are other things to ask when researching this.

  • Does that rate include miles traveled during case or mileage to and from the location? Some investigators charge a flat rate to cover all mileage
  • When does the hourly rate start?
  • What happens when nothing is seen or there is no activity.
  • Is there a minimum on case?
  • Is there any additional charges for photos, videos, reports?


At Michael Budenz & Associates, here is what we do.

  • We charge an hourly rate and then additional mileage. It is a more balanced fee since if your case is local and there is not a lot of driving, you only pay for actual miles instead of an inflated hourly rate. If we did an 8 hour surveillance and drove 30 miles, you pay for actual miles. if you paid a higher hourly rate you would have a bigger bill if those miles were rolled into the hourly rate. We are only covering the vehicle expenses with this arrangement. It is a fair compromise for expense vs. costs.
  • We do start charging once we get in a vehicle and start traveling to a location for that case.
  • No one can guarantee activity on a case, we can only be in place at the right place and time.  The other aspects cannot be promised.
  • Cases themselves do not have minimums, but our in-field surveillances are minimum of 4 hours.
  • No charges for videos, photos, reports.  That is what you are hiring us for.  Sometimes long terms electronic storage can have an additional cost.  Ask us for more details.
Do I have to wait for insurance to investigate someone faking an injury?2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

NO, don’t wait.  The quicker you take action the less “free” money that person gets, and the better chance that the fraud will get shut down.

Whether you pay for the investigator yourself or it goes through an insurance carrier, you are still going to pay for it in premiums.  This applies to both the customer involved in a slip & fall injury, or injuries related to a car crash with a company vehicle or the employee that was injured due to his job duties.

The insurance company could take months before they review it for possibility of surveillance.  If you had surveillance immediately after the injury, the claimant is never going to expect that.  It will either confirm or deny what is being claimed.  Within days after an injury, people are feeling pretty good about their fake claim and the possibility of a paid vacation.   It is only after multiple phone calls from insurance adjuster, doctors, nurses and physical therapist will they become cautious with their behaviors.

This leads us to another service which is accident scene investigation.  Waiting for an insurance carrier to send our an adjuster or an investigator to gather evidence at the scene is unproductive.  Often it is months later and the scene or situation that caused the claim has changed or is gone.  There is no evidence to gather and often the video surveillance CCTVC cameras have already overwritten the footage that you need.


Where are you located?2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

We are centrally located and have offices in Fort Wayne and Fishers which is a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

If your not familiar with the area.

Ft. Wayne is in the northeast corner of Indiana.  Some of the cities in the vicinity are New Haven, Churubusco, Huntertown, Roanoke, Huntingtin, Ossian, Bluffton, Decatur, Auburn, Columbia City, Warsaw, Wabash, North Manchester, Marion.  This office offers services though out Northern Indiana.

The Indianapolis office is centrally located in Fishers and offers services in cities like Carmel, Zionsville, Westfield, Noblesville, Lebanon, Lawrence, Geist, Whitestown, Brownsburg, Avon, Plainfield, Speedway, Mooresville, Martinsville, Bloomington, Southport, Greenwood, Franklin,  Shelbyville, New Palestine, Cumberland, Greenfield, McCordsville, Pendleton, Anderson, Muncie, Zionsville.

We travel all over the state for our clients and cases, we cannot list all the cities.  Just know that we will help, no matter where you are.

We actually have investigators in Indiana, we are not just a paper company and do not sub contract work to unknown agencies.  Our detectives have a minimum of 2 years experience as a private investigator before they work any case as primary investigator.  Experience does matter; we grow and train our people ourselves.  Ask us more about how we pick our staff.

Please check back as we are expanding our coverage area to include Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.  Once we find the right people and they meet our stringent requirements,

Our Forensic Services work can be done with our mobile lab or via a courier like FED-EX or UPS.  WE utilize multiple cloud applications and have a dedicated secured web based client portal for you to view results, pictures and videos from you assigned case.


How could hiring a private investigator help my child custody case?2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

An experienced investigator will conduct an investigation using our skills, surveillance techniques and years of experience to provide the information you want and need to know.  Our investigators will determine and document evidence of the illegal or harmful activities of the other parent. Our surveillance can determine if they are violating court orders by consuming drug or alcohol. If you are concerned about the identity and background of people with whom the other parent is associating, a comprehensive background check can identify those persons and determine their criminal history. Our professional testimony in depositions or the court room will assist you to retain or modify custody of your children. We will conduct surveillances, gather background information, obtain videos, photographs, internet / social media searches, interviews and when permissible Real-Time GPS Tracking to provide the evidence necessary to prove your case in a court of law.

Things you need to show proof of:

  • Violations of court orders related to the visitation or custody time.
  • Not actually taking care of the child during a custody period.
  • Behaviors that could negatively affect a child’s development.  Drugs, alcohol, driving impaired, etc.
  • Association with people that could have adverse effect on a child.
  • Not caring for medical needs of child properly.

Each custody case has it owns specific circumstances.  Without the proof, your beliefs are just seen as complaints with no merit in the courts eye.

You cannot take action to protect a child without proof.  That denial of parenting time will backfire unless you provide the evidence, presented by a professional.

How to hire a private investigator2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

Please do NOT use Craig’s List,  I will say no more.  Also, anyone advertising prices dramatically lower than industry standards is most likely going to get you drastically reduced results.

(As we are based in Indiana, operating 2 physical offices in Fort Wayne and the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, these guidelines can apply to ANY state or region.)

  •  Ask for legal business name.  I doubt the company is called carmel private investigator.  Like many other companies we have paid advertising on separate sites called Adversites, for example 1 of ours .(  *Most of these re-direct to our actual company site which clearly states our business name and locations.  Some do not and are free standing separate websites, but they still say the same true name.
  • Ask for their license Number. It REQUIRED by the state to be on business cards and websites (any advertising material).
  • Ask if the company is insured, ask to see insurance carrier “accord” form.
  • Do not rely on internet reviews completely, This goes against the norm, but think about it.  Who hires a private investigator for a matter that they most likely want to keep private because of a court hearing or simply because it’s embarrassing.  Most online reviews require some sort of back check to determine its not a SEO or programming trick.  But in our 30 years of experience, I can only think of a handful of clients that want anyone to know they contacted and used a private investigator. (We have some clients that require signed confidentiality and non-disclosure statements)
  • Research (internet).   Many of the “googled” responses to your search for a local Private investigator will result in another advertising directory type of website, or other subscriber lists dedicated to simply pointing you to more links for varies companies (those are expensive to the PI Agency and most good PI firms wont spend the big dollars to advertise there). Or you will get a link for a large national firm that does not even have an office or employee in your state or local area.  They sub contract it to the lowest bidder.  Find the actual web site of the company.  See what they are about.  Does the website tell you anything or is it just there to be a search engine listing of key words & services.
  • Talk with them over phone, then meet them in person!  Not just an answering service, or a sales rep on the phone. If you cannot talk with the owner, manager or director of operations, or the actually assigned private investigator working the case;  then keep calling!  If your lucky, these large national firms simple take your case and then re-sell it to an actually private investigator in your area.  Worse case, if they do have someone in the area, you will never know if that guy is working his first PI case ever or if they have 15 years experience.  Talking with the actually guy working your case gives direct, and immediate facts as to what is happening.
  • Get a signed contract, They should have some form of written agreement that lists service being provided and costs of said services.
  • Get a receipt for any retainer paid.
  • Have a reasonable expectation of results, don’t get convinced that proof is easy.  There are no guarantees in this business or the services we provide, but don’t get burned by someone taking a retainer and then simply saying sorry, no results.  We go through our results with clients and even the lack of activity or lack of results still has some documentation depending on the type of case.
  • Talk with them (I repeat this because its important), you don’t pick you doctor or lawyer or home contractor without meeting or talking on the phone a couple times.  Heck you probably even call around at least 2 or 3 times to get your car repaired.  On the flip side please don’t waste our time with physical meetings that are not honest, we are busy;  but a phone call is quick and easy, spend a bit of time on the phone.  We like to talk with potential clients on a call or email either a couple times or a fair amount of time in a single call, but we then expect the meeting to be business.  Meaning, you give a much more detailed description of case, photos, etc. and we sign contract and collect retainer at that time.  It is the time for you to confirm what was said during free phone consultations and then hire us for the job.  A physical meeting should be to confirm what your gut instinct was during the phone calls and emails,  Not to shop around, do that over the phone.  BUT if that meeting doesn’t feel right then Don’t do it.  Be honest and tell them your not comfortable and want to talk with some other firms.  A QUICK NOTE—We do not always take cases and we are doing the same thing you are as a consumer.  If something is not quite right, we will tell you we are not talking your case.
  • MAKE SURE ITS LEGAL.  Your requested service must be something that is legally obtained, any actions being taken illegally can come back to haunt you in court.  If one company says yes and the other says no, you may want to ask WHY?
How could cell phones and the data contained within help me?2016-12-23T11:25:09-05:00

The majority of people in the modern world use a smart phone.  The flip phone is dead (we can still get data from those phones).  I can venture to say that if you want real answers, the truth lies in the 1’s and 0’s.  Unless they are a master criminal, the phone will contain evidence you need to get answers, find proof, disprove or prove an allegation.  Phones now are tracking you and keep records internally of what your doing with that phone, and even what your doing with that phone in your pocket.  As we tell defendant’s in any court case, unless the phone evidence recovery is done correctly it can be rejected as evidence.  Our experts can not only get that data for you , but also act as expert witnesses in review the phone evidence against you.

Call us for a free consultation on how a forensics phone exam could benefit you.

How can a private investigator help in my Child Support Case?2016-08-28T08:40:18-04:00

Please realize that child support and custody are 2 separate issues.

This is a huge topic recently. There are so many deadbeat parents out there and no county or state has the resources to track them. Know going into this that the government has no responsibility to find them for you even after you have a court order for back support or for modification of current payments. Many local counties are now hiring their own internal investigator to do these for the worst of the worst cases. They will work down to smaller cases, but these are never ending and there are still so many case files that will never be opened.

We can help you locate that parent and can even assist in financial investigations or asset searches to locate hidden bank accounts. Just because you have been award support, then next problem is locating it and forcing the court to either garnish wages or take the money out of a bank account. We can help you with this.

Our services can also be used prior to a child support hearing to determine what sort of income or work someone is doing off the book, before the hearing.  Remember people lie, when you go into the hearing, your knowledge from 3rd parties about someone’s income or side jobs is not enough.  You need photographs or other proof to show someone is working for cash.

Are there any guarantees when you hire a Private Investigator2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

The truthful answer is NO.

While you may have beliefs that something is occurring, to use it in court you need more than suspicion and Hearsay ( someone telling you that they heard something).  Once you hire a private detective you research this belief or claim and they obtain evidence of such you now have leverage and can present that in court, or outside court between parties.

If you believe that XYZ is happening, and hire a good investigation agency to get the proof, you both now have to wait and be in position for that behavior or event to occur again.  The second factor to that is what will be said to “explain” that.  A reasonable person ( judge or jury) may take an explanation of “it only happened one time” or “I had a stressful week and fell off the wagon and mad 1 bad decision”.  That explanation of a single event, depending on the severity could negate the impact of that evidence.  We recommended and always try to get that behavior repeated and get evidence to show a pattern of behavior.

While sometimes that single event may be in violation of a court order, having evidence that it occurred three times over a period of time is more overwhelming.

At Michael Budenz & Associates, we will guarantee that we will do what we need to legally get the evidence, but we cannot control or force things to happen.  No one can predict the future, we can only make educated guesses based in intelligence and observations.

How successful can I expect surveillance to be?2016-09-13T23:13:16-04:00

There is No way to predict this nor answer this accurately.  Anyone who does is misleading you.  Make sure the guy you hire is using good equipment.  A photo or video from cell phone has its place, but surveillance from a vehicle and over distance requires that investigator to actually have some good video or camera equipment.

Factors for success.

  • Accurate information about subject of surveillance.  This means a picture, car information, correct addresses of work and home ( or where they are putting their head at night).  We need a good starting point for surveillance.  If we want to know where they work we start with home.  If we want to know where they are sleeping, we need a work location or other fixed starting point.
  • Subject’s activity level.  If they don’t leave the house, then we are not going to see anything.
  • Location of surveillance.  Is it an accessible location?  Will an investigator have to blend into a rural or city or suburbs setting?  Is there street parking?  The geographical location itself is vital, is it on a busy road and there is no place to physically watch from a stationary position?

We can only predict that WE will be in the best position available at the best time to capture what is needed.

What are the common signs of a cheating spouse?2017-05-03T16:31:49-04:00

Changes are the Key.

These apply to both men and women when it comes to infidelity, it is an equal opportunity offender.

The Blame Game

Psychological projection is a really strange human behavior in which a person ascribes flaws to others that they deny possessing. As a result of this twisted reverse psychology, projection also happens to be a great indicator of cheating in a relationship.

For example, if your significant other is all of the sudden accusing you of sneaking around or being untrustworthy, it is probably because they are being deceitful themselves and are paranoid that you will do the same.

Laying It On Thick – Both Positive or Negative

One way cheaters love to hide their lies is to shower those they are lying to with sweet, buttery love and affection. But underneath that unusually gooey-love exterior is oftentimes a hard, cheating core. So if you have been noticing an extra influx of exceedingly sweet affection and thoughtful gifts, you might want to be a little cautious.
Then also turn it up on the other side by aggressively finding fault with you. Picking fights routinely over things that are insignificant or never matter before.
That way if caught the tables can be turned and now “It’s your fault I cheated” we always fight.

E-Romance – Mobile Phones or Social Media

Oh, the joys of modern-day technology. By gracing humankind with a whole new avenue through which people can cheat on each other (just check out and, These are dedicated sites for married men & women to find a hook up. The opportunities for him or her to be fooling around with someone else via technology are endless.

If that little voice inside your head, or the sense in the bottom of your gut is telling you that they are acting suspicious around mobile devices and goes to unusual lengths to hide it from you, then you have reason to investigate further.  Investigate quietly to determine if you are wrong. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You could be wrong.

What’s Wrong? Cat Got Your Tongue?

People have trouble keeping their lies straight when they are busy weaving tangled webs of deceit. If you notice that your significant other is starting to backtrack on where he has been or who he told you he was spending time with, then you need to brace yourself for the fact that he is most likely lying to you.

And if you do happen to come across actual proof that he has been lying to you about his whereabouts…

The lies will only become bigger if you stick around.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck.. its always going to be a duck.

The Gut Check

It is so strange to me how many people these days refuse to listen to their natural intuition. What could be more reliable than our own deep-rooted, innate sensibilities? This is why I always say that if you just can’t shake the feeling that something is awry, then it probably is. Our intuitions don’t lie. People do. Period.