Can You Hire An Asset Search On Contingency?

  • June 2, 2023
  • 3 min read

In the pursuit of recovering debts or unraveling fraud cases, the idea of hiring a private investigator on a contingency basis might seem enticing. The concept is simple: you only pay if the investigator finds assets, and you recover what you’re owed. It sounds like a win-win situation, right? However, there are several compelling reasons why this approach is not only impractical but also ill-advised.

1. Lack of Incentive for the Investigator

Private investigators are professionals who, like everyone else, need compensation for their time and expertise. Hiring an investigator on a contingency basis means they receive no payment upfront. Consequently, this lack of immediate financial incentive may result in a less thorough investigation. Investigators may focus on easily accessible information, neglecting potentially valuable but harder-to-find assets.

2. Factors Beyond Investigator’s Control

Even if an investigator locates substantial assets, the legal process requires specific procedures for seizing those assets. A court-issued writ of garnishment is necessary to transfer funds or assets directly to the creditor. This legal requirement introduces an element beyond the investigator’s control. The investigator must then trust that you, the client, will honor the agreement to compensate them once the assets are recovered.

3. Unknown Validity of the Case

Private investigators are not legal experts, and they rely on the information provided to them. If you’re not willing to invest in your case by paying for a professional to find assets, it raises questions about the validity of your judgment or fraud claim. Investigators may hesitate to risk their resources on a case that the client isn’t confident enough to support financially.

4. Legal and Ethical Implications

In most states, it is illegal for private investigators to work on a contingency basis. The licensing granted to investigators comes with the expectation that they adhere to legal and ethical standards. Working on contingency could compromise the integrity of the investigation, potentially leading to unethical practices or misinformation.

5. Client Accountability and Trust Issues

If the assets are successfully located, the investigator faces the challenge of ensuring they receive payment. Entrusting the client to distribute the funds ethically creates a risk for the investigator. There’s no guarantee that, once the client has the recovered assets, they will fulfill their financial commitment to the investigator.

6. No Guarantee of the Debtor’s Financial Capacity

Not all debtors have substantial assets, and there’s no guarantee that the investigator will uncover valuable resources. Asset searches cost the same regardless of whether the debtor possesses assets or not. Searching for an individual with limited financial means can consume additional time and effort.

Choose Quality Over Cost

Opting for a contingency-based asset search may seem appealing from a cost-saving perspective. However, the potential pitfalls, legal constraints, and ethical considerations make it a risky and often impractical choice. When your financial interests are at stake, it’s crucial to invest in a reputable and experienced investigator who can navigate the complexities of asset recovery with integrity and efficiency. Remember, choosing quality over cost ensures that your case is handled professionally and ethically, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.

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