Private Investigator FAQ
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“Investigator” means a person who engages in the business of obtaining or furnishing, or who solicits or accepts employment to obtain or furnish, information about:
· Crimes or wrongs done or threatened against the United States or any state or territory of the United States;
· The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, activities, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation or character of any person;
· The location, disposition or recovery of lost or stolen property;
· The cause of or responsibility for fires, libels, losses, accidents, damages or injuries to persons or property; or
· Evidence to be used before any court, board, officer, referee, arbitrator or investigation committee.
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* What is considered educational substitution?
Completion of a related course of study at an educational institution licensed or approved by a State Department of Education or other State approving agency, and approved by the Department may be substituted for up to 500 hours of the required work experience. Correspondence courses, online courses, or similar coursework will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
· Educational substitutions applied toward the required work experience will be granted on a three to one (3 to 1) basis and will be calculated using clock hours spent in class. For example, three hours in class would equate to one hour of allowable experience;
· Applicants must provide the Department or its authorized representative verifiable documentation in the form of sealed certified transcripts or an official certificate from the administering institution(s) showing successful completion of study in the related subject matter;
· The Department or its authorized representative will review the subject matter of the applicant's education on an individual basis;
· Certified transcripts or official copies of certificates presented to the Department in an envelope sealed by the program or institution or instructor and verified as sealed may be accepted directly from the applicant;
· If a program or institution granting credit is no longer in business, the Department will accept for review a copy of a certificate of completion or transcript or diploma in the required subject matter and hours. The Department may require additional information to verify the authenticity of such documents.
**Criteria for electronically submittal: JPEG format (.jpg), minimum 640x480 resolution, cropped for head shot, solid colored background, photo date must be within the last six months, sent from an email address on file at DPSST (or) if new applicant, sent from email address listed on application or submitted on a CD with paper documents and driver's license quality professional photograph.
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An individual who has completed fewer than 1500 documented clock hours of investigatory work experience, or an approved course of study, or a combination of work and study as approved by the Department; and who may not employ or supervise other investigators.
- Complete a PI-1 (application)
- Secure a surety bond, irrevocable letter of credit or errors & omissions insurance in the minimum amount of $5000 with your name listed as principal.
- Complete one (1) fingerprint card
- Complete three (3) professional letters of reference. References cannot be related to you by blood or marriage or be personal in nature.
- Complete two (2) passport quality photographs. (Photos are to be submitted electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org. *Digital photo must meet certain criteria, see below for explanation. No copies or laser printer copies will be accepted.)
- PI-27 (Private Investigator Professional Code of Ethics)
- Review the list of mandatory and discretionary disqualifiers in Oregon Administrative Rule 259-061-0300.
- Submit a one-time $69.00 application fee and the required $550 licensing fee (VISA/MC, cashier’s check, money order, or business check. No personal checks or cash please.)
- Once your completed application packet is processed you will be registered to take the PI Proficiency Exam. Please review our calendar for class availability.
*Criteria for electronically submittal: JPEG format (.jpg), minimum 640x480 resolution, cropped for head shot, solid colored background, photo date must be within the last six months, sent from an email address on file at DPSST (or) if new applicant, sent from email address listed on application or submitted on a CD with paper documents and driver's license quality professional photograph.
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A licensed investigator shall provide the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training with:
· The investigator’s legal name, home address and home telephone number; and
· The name, physical and mailing addresses and telephone number of the investigator’s business.
In addition to the information required above, a licensed investigator who is not a resident of this state shall designate a person to act as the investigator’s agent for service of process. The investigator shall make the designation on a form approved by the department and shall include the physical address of the agent’s business. When an investigator changes the designated agent, the investigator shall submit a new designation form. To act as an agent, the person must be:
· An individual who resides in this state and who maintains a business office in this state; or
· A corporation that maintains a business office in this state.
Please submit your Designation of Agent information on a PI-23 form.
An investigator shall notify the department within 10 business days of any change in the information required by this section.
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The exam consists of 50 questions, containing multiple choice and true/false questions. The exam is designed for you to demonstrate your competency skills in finding the required information and interpreting it.
The exam is open book and the Department will provide you with the necessary materials to complete the exam, on the day of the exam. You will not be allowed to use any of your own material when taking the exam.
To become more familiar with the materials prior to taking the exam, you may review Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) and Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS). More specifically, ORS 9, ORS 40, ORS 135, ORS 161-167, ORS 703, OAR 259 Division 61 and The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) 15 U.S.C. 1681. The Department does not provide study material to applicants and does not endorse any study materials that may be found on the internet.
The minimum passing score for the exam is 86%.
The exam may be administered to an applicant no more than three consecutive times. If the applicant does not pass the exam on the third attempt, the applicant must wait one year from the date the last exam was taken to re-take the exam.
View the training calendar to determine what dates the exam is given. On these prescheduled dates, the Department offers an optional orientation. This orientation does not cover exam questions, it is meant to provide information about the regulatory program at DPSST.
If the prescheduled exam dates do not work with your schedule, please contact the Department. The Department may be able to schedule an alternate examination date.
Once the exam is completed, you will immediately be notified of your score. In order to protect the integrity of the exam, we are unable to let you know what specific questions you may have missed on the exam.
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What is required by DPSST?
The state minimum standard amount required for a Bond or E&O Insurance is $5000. Keep in mind this is the state minimum standard; most investigators are bonded/insured for much more than this amount. Bonds and E&O Insurance can be obtained through various insurance providers.
If you are securing a Bond, your own name must be listed as principal on the bond form.
If you are securing E&O insurance, DPSST will not accept it unless the E&O Insurance shows that you are the insured and that DPSST is the Certificate Holder.
*Your PI license is issued to YOU, not your business and it is important to ensure that you are protected under your Bond and/or Insurance.*
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Once you have completed all portions of the application packet, including pass the exam, a background investigation will be completed to determine eligibility. Once approved, licenses are issued every two weeks.
A license is valid for two years for the issuance date, unless any action is taken by the Department against the license.
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A license expires two years from the issuance date. All applicants may renew 90 days prior to expiration date. It is strongly encouraged to renew in advance, thus avoiding a late fee of $25, including a lapse of licensure and potential civil penalty for violation of the law. You may not perform duties as an investigator after the expiration date of the license. Submission of renewal paperwork does not warrant any extension of the expiration date, investigators must have a current license issued by the Department to perform duties as an investigator.
It can take up to 6 weeks to process a license renewal, please do not procrastinate in submitting your renewal requirements.
To renew a license prior to expiration date, investigator must complete the following requirements:
· A Form PI-21 (Investigator Renewal Application) completed in its entirety;
· A completed Form PI-6 (Continuing Education Summary.)
· Two identical, passport-quality photographs for identification. Your renewal photos may not be the same as your last application submittal. Photos may not be more than 6 months old.
· A completed Form PI-27 (Investigator Professional Code of Ethics) affirming moral fitness and professional standards; and
· Proof of a corporate surety bond, an irrevocable letter of credit issued by an Oregon commercial bank as defined in ORS 706.008, or errors and omission insurance in the amount of at least $5,000 in accordance with this rule; and
· Non-refundable renewal application fees of $550.
· If the Department receives your application for renewal after the expiration date of the license, you must pay the additional late fee of $25.
· If the Department receives your application for renewal after 30 days of expiration date of the license, you must complete the application process for ‘new’ applicants, including submission of required continuing education for the last licensing period and pay the required $69.00 application fee.
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Continuing Education is recorded and reported to the Department on a PI-6 form.
No Private Investigator license or renewal will be issued by the Department unless the licensee has satisfactorily completed and reported thirty-two (32) continuing education program hours in compliance with the Department's Continuing Education Guidelines. Two (2) of the hours must be in ethics.
No Provisional Investigator license or renewal will be issued by the Department unless the licensee has satisfactorily completed and reported forty (40) continuing education program hours in compliance with the Department's Continuing Education Guidelines. Two (2) of the hours must be in ethics.
A licensed investigator may carry over up to fifteen (15) hours of unused continuing education credit hours to his/her next licensing period.
What is considered acceptable continuing education?
Continuing Education means any educational endeavor that reasonably could be considered beneficial to the work of the investigator. You do not need to call the Department to ask if the continuing education will be accepted. If you feel that the continuing education you have obtained if beneficial to the investigatory work you do, then you may submit it on the PI-6. If Department determines that the submitted continuing education is debatable you will be notified and have the opportunity to articulate how it applies to the investigatory work you do. Please adhere to the limitations below, as the Department will not accept continuing education that has exceeds the set amounts.
What are the limitations?
Books and Manuals
Two hours of continuing education will be granted for each non-fiction book or professional/technical manual read, with a limit of six continuing education hours per licensing period. Books will be approved on a case-by-case basis.
College, Internet or Correspondence Courses
Conferences, Seminars and Interactive Webinars
Pre-recorded or Non-Interactive Media
Limited to 24 continuing education hours per licensing period.
One hour of continuing education will be granted for each hour in attendance of a Board or Committee Meeting, with a limit of eight continuing education hours per licensing period.
Lectures and Public Presentations
One hour of continuing education will be granted for each hour of presenting or attending a lecture or public presentation, with a limit of eight hours of continuing education per licensing period.
One hour of continuing education per eight hours of training will be granted to licensed investigators who provide training to another investigator, with a limit of eight continuing educational hours per licensing period.
One hour of continuing education will be granted for each network meeting attended, with a limit of eight continuing education hours per licensing period.
Continuing education hours will be granted to individuals who have authored or co-authored publications. Continuing education hours awarded for publications will be at the Department’s discretion, with a limit of 10 continuing education hours per licensing period, with no carry over.
Any other continuing education that reasonably could be considered beneficial to the work of the investigator. The Department reserves the right to approve or disapprove any continuing education request.
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Our website has a very helpful resource that is known as the ListServ. There is access to training opportunities, newsletters, FAQ’s, necessary forms for licensure/certification, and contact information.
When you sign up for the ListServ, you will automatically receive training announcements via e-mail as we send them out.
Some training opportunities are free and some require a fee.
Does DPSST open classes to private investigators?
The state of Oregon mandates that DPSST provide training for police officers, corrections, parole and probation, and 911 dispatchers. At this time, Oregon law does not have a legal mandate to provide training to private investigators. The disciplines that fall under the mandate have priority access to training resources.
Does DPSST offer or sponsor training?
Yes, but because the PI industry is so diverse, it is nearly impossible for DPSST to isolate a specific topic of investigative instruction that would be beneficial to a large percentage of our constituents. Unlike private security providers, PI’s are not required by law to take mandated DPSST training as a condition of renewing their license. The only training provided by DPPST is the PI Orientation that is associated with the PI Proficiency Exam. This training is specifically designed to educate individuals on the professional standards of the industry and assist them in the preparation of the examination.
I have been issued a Provisional License and would like to upgrade to Private Investigator
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The license of a Provisional Investigator will be upgraded to a Private Investigator license when the applicant provides verifiable documentation that he or she has performed 1500 hours of investigatory work, or completed a course of study approved by the Department. Please submit this information on a PI-11.
The expiration date for a provisional investigator's current license will not change when upgraded to a private investigator unless the upgrade is granted at the time of renewal or a new application and fee is received.