Accounting & Auditing | Ethics & Professional Issues | Financial Planning | Legislative / Regulatory

P.I. license required? Bet you didn’t see that coming, CPAs

Good stuff here from the Journal of Accountancy's Jeff Drew -- too good not to mention, actually.

A question for all of you forensic accountants out there: Did you know that, depending on where you work, you might be required by law to be licensed as a private investigator?

"While the scope and complexity of (private investigator)-licensing laws and statutes vary nationwide, they all impose licensing requirements on individuals participating in activities associated with private investigations," Drew writes. "Because forensic accountants conduct research- and document-based investigations, they often fall under the purview of these laws. In addition, some CPAs specializing in information technology perform work, such as digging for information in computer files, that could require them to register as private investigators."

Forty states require private investigators to be licensed, and because many of those rules have been implemented within the past five years, Drew says many CPAs might be unaware of the requirements. It's time they became aware, though. "Penalties for operating as a private investigator without a license vary but include felonies," Drew writes.

To help you find out where you stand, the AICPA’s Forensic and Valuation Section has released a guide that helps CPAs determine if their work requires them to obtain a P.I. license. The guide is available online to AICPA members. Check it out here.

And remember: If your name is Magnum, Simon or Rockford, you're already a step ahead.


Bill Sheridan