How much does a private investigator cost?

How much does a private investigator cost? 

It’s probably the first question that comes to your mind when you seriously start to think about engaging the services of an agency – How much does a private investigator cost?

Online Investigations Pty Ltd, your preferred Private Investigator Melbourne, explores the cost of various investigative services in Australia.

As your preferred Private Investigators in Melbourne, we offer a wide range of services and the cost typically varies depending on the job.  This usually falls into fixed price cases and those charged at an hourly rate.

Fixed Price Cases

Fixed price jobs are usually straight forward matters which can be carried out using a similar format and are therefore charged using a standard price.  The typical cases charged at a fixed price are:

Locates / Skip Trace: Finding family members, debtors, door knocking.  These all usually involve a standard up front agreed price typically between $400 – $2500.  A 50% retainer is obtained upfront with the balance to be paid on a successful find only.  The retainer is considered as the non-success fee and covers the investigators time, resources (such as subscription databases) and expertise.

Background Checks:  Typically charged between $800 – $2500

Mobile and Digital Forensics: Typically charged between $500- $5000

General Database Enquiries: Typically charged between $300 – $700

Trademark In Use / Brand Protection Investigations:  Typically charged between $600 – $2500

Online Based Investigations: Typically charged between $400 – $5000

The range in price when it comes to how much a private investigator costs takes into consideration what the client requires to be done and what the investigator need to undertake in order to achieve it.  The fixed cost will be determined based on the agency fee structure and previous experience. If it doesn’t fit within the standard template an agency uses, then additional costs are likely to apply.


These are cases where there is no set template (ie tick the boxes)  and the potential for the matter to be ‘open ended’.

Surveillance: While some surveillance jobs have an agreed amount of hours, there are additional fees to consider such as km’s travelled, travel time, database fees, and any additional overtime.  Any additional investigators will also be charged at the same hourly rate.  While investigation companies set their own hourly rate you should be budgeting between $100- $130 an hour + travel travel and Km’s for surveillance agents.  This rate may be higher depending on the level of experience required for the agent.    With most companies setting a minimum 4 hour investigation hours, with all costs included you should expect to pay the absolute minimum of $600 – however as most surveillance jobs run over the course of a day or sometimes weeks, the typical cost is more in the range of $2000 – $5000.

Specialised InvestigationsFor cases which require a specialised investigator such as forensic, fraud, risk management or specialised undercover work, a client can expect to pay upwards of $400 an hour.

Ultimately, an agreed price or estimate of fees should always be agreed on prior to any job undertaken.  You should also clarify with your chosen agency whether their fee includes GST or not.

We hope this article answers your question – how much does a private investigator cost?  – however if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact Online Investigations Pty Ltd for a detailed consultation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *