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Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

 

Private Investigation


1. Who is required to be licensed?

2. How do I obtain a license?

3. How long will it take to process my application?

4. Is there an experience requirement?

5.. How do I apply for licensing exam?

6. I passed my exam, what do I do next?

7. Do I submit fingerprint cards with my application?

8. Do I have to be an apprentice?

9. Must I disclose any past arrest when making application or when renewing my license?

10. I am licensed in another state and want to operate in Tennessee. Do you have reciprocity agreements with other states? Which states?

11. Can a private investigator work as a bodyguard?

12. Does the Private Investigation & Polygraph Commission regulate bounty hunters?

13. How do I renew a license?

14. Can I renew my license or registration online?

15. How far in advance of expiration date should my renewal be completed?

16. I let my license expire. How do I have it reinstated?

17. How do I retire my license?

18. How do I reactivate my retired license?

19. How many hours of continuing education do I need for renewal?
20. Are the approved continuing professional education courses on the Web site?

21. I recently updated my status. Why hasn’t my status changed online?

22. Am I required to notify the Commission if I change my address?

23. Am I required to notify the Commission if I change my firm’s address?

24. Can I change my information online?


Complaints:

1. How do I file a complaint against a company/individual?

2. What happens after I file a complaint?

3. What can the state do if I have a legitimate grievance?

4. How do I get information regarding complaints filed or disciplinary action taken against a private investigator, private investigation company or polygraph examiner?


Miscellaneous:

1. How do I determine if an individual/company is licensed?

2. Am I required to notify the Commission if my job status changes? 

3. How do I know when and where the Commission meets? 

4. Does the Commission have a newsletter to which I can subscribe?



Polygraph Examiner

 

1. Who is required to be licensed?
2. Can anybody give a polygraph test?

3. How do I obtain a license?

4. Do I have to serve an internship?

5. Do I have to take an exam?

6. Does an intern need a sponsor?

7. Do I need to renew my polygraph license?

Private Investigation

Who is required to be licensed?

Individuals and companies

Private investigator means any person who engages in the business or accepts employment to obtain or furnish information with reference to:

  • Crimes or wrongs done or threatened against the United States or any state or territory of the  Unites States
  • The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, activity, movement, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputations, or character of any person
  • The location, disposition, or recovery of lost or stolen property
  • The cause or responsibility for fires, libels, losses, accidents, damages, or injuries to persons or to property
  • The securing of evidence to be used before any court, Commission, commission, officer, or investigating committee.


How do I obtain a license?

Contact Commission office by phone 615.741.4827 or email for a packet to be mailed. Information is also available online. Fingerprint cards must be obtained from the Commission office.


How long will it take to process my application?

Time varies due to background checks and exams, please allow a minimum of three (3) weeks before calling the Commission office. All applications are processed in the order they are received.

Is there an experience requirement?

Yes, applicants for private investigation company licenses must document two thousand (2,000) hours of compensated, verifiable investigative experience satisfactory to the Commission or has one (1) year of applicable, related experience or education in a related area of study approved by the Commission in order to qualify for the license.  Examination is also required. 

How do I apply for licensing exam?

All applicants are required to successfully complete an examination prior to approval of the application. A bulletin of examination information is enclosed with the application packet.  All applicants must apply directly to the independent testing organization.


I passed my exam, what do I do next?

The Commission will be notified by exam organization of the pass or fail score and the applicant will be notified as to what might still be needed for licensure.



Do I submit fingerprint cards with my application?

Yes. An applicant shall submit three (3) sets of classifiable fingerprint cards that are rolled nail to nail by a qualified technician with his/her application for the purpose of allowing the Commission to forward the fingerprint cards to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Fingerprints may also by submitted electronically. Contact Cogent Systems at 1-877-862-2425 and you will be asked for the ORI# TN920130Z and the transaction type “PI.” The fee for electronic fingerprints is $48.


Do I have to be an apprentice?

No this is optional.  Apprenticeships are intended to serve as a learning process. Sponsors (company) shall assume a training status by providing direction and control of the apprentice.  Apprentice status shall be limited to six (6) months and applicants are only eligible for one (1) apprenticeship.


Must I disclose any past arrest when making application or when renewing my license?

Yes.  The Commission must be informed of all prior arrests, convictions and pending charges in the commission of a felony or misdemeanor in any jurisdiction. It will be necessary for you to provide certified documents of the court’s final disposition, including suspended or deferred sentences, as well as a written explanation of the events surrounding the charges. Failure to fully disclose all arrest information could disqualify you under TCA § 62-26-217.


I am licensed in another state and want to operate in Tennessee. Do you have reciprocity agreements with other states? Which states?

Yes. The Commission holds private investigator limited license recognition agreements with Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, and has entered into reciprocal licensing agreements with Arkansas and Kentucky.


Can a private investigator work as a bodyguard?

No.  Security guard/officers are regulated by Tennessee Private Protective Services. TCA § 62-35-101


Does the Private Investigation & Polygraph Commission regulate bounty hunters?

No. Bounty hunters are hired by the bond agent (TCA § 40-11-3).

A bounty hunter cannot have a criminal record, must notify the local police of defendant’s location, and present to the police a copy of the warrant, a copy of the bond, and evidence that the bounty hunter has been hired by the bond agent.


How do I renew a license?

Private investigators and private investigation companies are provided with a renewal application form sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of the license. A penalty as prescribed by the Commission will be assessed on any renewal application postmarked after the expiration date of the license. No renewal application will be accepted more than thirty (30) days after the expiration date of the license.  Any private investigator who fails to complete the required continuing education prior to the license expiration date will be assessed a late fee. 

Can I renew my license or registration online?

Not at this time.


How far in advance of expiration date should my renewal be completed?

Renewal applications should be forwarded to the Commission upon receipt of the renewal application. All private investigators must have a photo identification card that is permanently laminated on their person when engaged in the activities of the licensee. Ample time must be given to the Commission to process the renewal application and mail the license before the expiration date.


I let my license expire. How do I have it reinstated?

In order to reinstate an expired license, the same procedure is used as to obtain a license.


How do I retire my license?

A private investigator may retire a license by making such request in writing and paying the appropriate fee set by the Commission.  The written request must be accompanied by the license certificate, pocket card, and appropriate fee. Only licenses that are current and in good standing with the Commission may be retired. No retired licensee may engage in any act defined in TCA § 62-26-202.  (Companies are not eligible for retirement)


How do I reactivate my retired license?

Licensee must show proof of completion of continuing education requirements as provided in TCA § 62-26-225 sufficient to meet a licensee’s current requirements.  Upon receipt of proof of such requirements and payment of appropriate fees set by the Commission, a retired license shall automatically be changed from retired to active.


How many hours of continuing education do I need for renewal?

A private investigator license holder seeking biennial renewal shall, as a prerequisite for such renewal, complete twelve (12) hours of continuing professional education acceptable to the Commission during the two (2) year period prior to renewal.


Are the approved continuing professional education courses on the Web site?

Yes, the Private Investigator Approved Continuing Professional Education List is under Training and Education.


I recently updated my status. Why hasn’t my status changed online?

Changes will not reflect on the Web site until twenty-four (24) hours after the change has been made.  Contact the Commission if change is not made within the listed time frame.


Am I required to notify the Commission if I change my address?

Yes.


Am I required to notify the Commission if I change my firm’s address?

Yes.


Can I change my information online?

Not at this time.

Complaints


How do I file a complaint against a company/individual?

Complaint forms may be obtained from the Commission or on the website www.tn.gov/commerce/Commissions/pi.

The Commission cannot recover or order the refund of any money or property to which you may be entitled.  You must institute a civil lawsuit for this purpose and hire your own legal counsel.  Complete the complaint form; give complete statements of the facts, with names and dates, and be sure to include all documentation that supports your allegation such as the nature of the complaint, copies of relevant paperwork and the address of the person or firm you are filing the complaint against.

Anonymous complaints containing advertisements or other independent proof of a violation will be opened as complaints and processed according to the normal complaint procedures.  However, they must include the name, contact information, violation details, and location address in order for action to be taken and investigated. 


What happens after I file a complaint?

An acknowledgement letter of receipt is sent to the complainant. Request for a response to the allegations is sent by certified mail to the respondent.  Upon receipt of the response, a copy is forwarded to the complainant. Complaint, response and all documentation is referred to staff attorney. An investigation is initiated if deemed necessary by staff attorney.  Complaints are presented to the Commission anonymously by the staff attorney.  None of the parties are identified to the Commission and they do not see the complaint. The attorney prepares a legal report of law violations and recommendations to assess civil penalties, fines, or take formal action to suspend or revoke the license. The final determination is made by the Commission based on evidence presented.  After final determination is made the complainant and respondent are notified of Commission’s final disposition.

 

What can the state do if I have a legitimate grievance?

The Commission does not have the authority to award monetary damages, refund money, or force the respondent to complete the project. The Commission may assess discipline such as letters of warning/caution, citations, civil penalties, consent orders and in some cases, they may revoke or suspend the license through an adversarial formal hearing process with an Administrative Judge, pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.  Anyone seeking to recover monetary remedies for injuries should consult a private attorney, as the Commission has no jurisdiction over these matters. Further, the Commission cannot hold the issuance of a license renewal until the respondent is given due process through the Uniform Administrative Procedures by a formal hearing.  

 

Civil penalties or fines with an order to “cease and desist” may be issued for unlicensed activity.

 

How do I get information regarding complaints filed or disciplinary action taken against a private investigator or private investigation company?

A Disciplinary Action Report is posted on the Department website monthly. Open complaint cases or those closed without discipline are not listed on the Web site and you would need to contact our staff to check the complaint history for an individual or company.

 

Miscellaneous



How do I determine if an individual/company is licensed?

License Search is available online.


Am I required to notify the Commission if my job status changes?

Yes, all private investigators must be affiliated with a private investigation company.  Notice is required within thirty (30) days of any change in a private investigator's company affiliation.


How do I know when and where the Commission meets?

Calendars and agendas are available online.


Does this Commission have a newsletter to which I can subscribe?

Not at this time.




Polygraph Examiner



Who is required to be licensed?

Polygraph examiner means any person who purports to be able to detect deception or verify truth of statements through instrumentation or by means of a mechanical device.

Polygraph intern means any person who studies polygraph techniques and administration of polygraph techniques under the personal supervision and control of a local licensed polygraph examiner in the accordance with a course of study prescribed by the Commission at the commencement of such internship.


Can anybody give a polygraph test?

No. It is unlawful for any person, including a city, county, or state employee, to administer polygraph examinations or represent to be a polygraph examiner without holding a valid polygraph examiner license issued by the Commission. It is unlawful for any person, other than a law enforcement officer acting in accordance with TCA § 62-27-103(c), to operate any instrument or device to detect deception or verify the truth of statements that does not meet the minimum instrumentation requirements set forth in TCA § 62-27-103(a), or to use any title or make any representation tending to indicate that such person is qualified to detect deception or verify truth of statements through the use of such instrument or device.

How do I obtain a license?

Contact Commission office by phone 615.741.4827 or email for a packet to be mailed. Information is also available online. An application for original license shall be made to the Commission in writing under oath on forms prescribed by the Commission and shall be accompanied by the required fee which is not refundable.


Do I have to serve an internship?

Yes. An internship permit shall be issued to an intern applicant who has completed a recognized polygraph school; provided that the intern applicant applies for such license and pays the required fee. An internship permit shall be valid for the term of twelve (12) months from the date of issue. No intern may administer an actual polygraph examination without an intern permit.


Do I have to take an exam?

Yes. All intern applicants are required to take and pass an intern examination as prescribed by the Commission prior to commencement of the internship unless the applicant has completed a polygraph school or held a polygraph examiner license in the state of Tennessee in the immediate preceding twelve (12) month period.


Does an intern need a sponsor?

Yes. In order to be eligible to serve as a sponsor for an intern polygraph examiner, a person must have held a valid Tennessee Polygraph Examiner License for at least the immediately preceding two (2) years. The intern sponsor shall have the intern conduct at least fifty (50) polygraph examinations during the twelve (12) month internship period.


Do I need to renew my polygraph license?

Yes. Polygraph examiner licenses expire biennially on the expiration date of the license.  Every licensed polygraph examiner seeking renewal shall as a prerequisite for renewal of such license, report with the license renewal form satisfactory evidence of having completed at least twenty four (24) credit hours of qualified continuing education in the subject areas of polygraph examinations and/or related field during each two (2) year licensing period.