Standards of Practice

Following Important Regulations To

Provide Structure and Stability

Adopted from:
Department of Regulatory Agencies
Office of Private Investigator Licensing 4 CCR 750-1
Private Investigator Licensure Rules and Regulations

With the sunset of Colorado PI licensing in September 2021, the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado recommends the following Standards of Practice for professional Private Investigations. The information contained herein is not intended to be and does not constitute legal advice. Contact your attorney for legal advice with respect to any particular legal matter. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your use and interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.

“Private Investigator” or “Private Detective” means a natural and independent person who, for a fee, reward, compensation, or other consideration, engages in a business or accepts employment to conduct private sector investigations.

“Private Investigation” means undertaking an investigation for the purpose of obtaining information for others pertaining to:

  1. A crime, wrongful act, or threat against the United States or any State or Territory of the United States;
  2. The identity, reputation, character, habits, conduct, business occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, activity, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, or transactions of a person, group of persons, or organization;
  3. The credibility of witnesses or other persons;
  4. The whereabouts of missing persons;
  5. The determination of the owners of abandoned property;
  6. The causes and origin of, or responsibility for, libel, slander, a loss, an accident, damage, or an injury to a person or to real or personal property;
  7. The business of securing evidence to be used before an investigatory committee, board of award or arbitration, administrative body, or officer or in the preparation for or in a civil or criminal trial;
  8. The business of locating persons who have become delinquent in their lawful debts, when the Private Investigator locating the debtor is hired by an individual or collection agency;
  9. The location or recovery of lost or stolen property;
  10. The affiliation, connection, or relationship of any person, firm, or corporation with any organization, society, or association or with any official, representative, or member of an organization, society, or association;
  11. The conduct, honesty, efficiency, loyalty, or activities of employees, persons seeking employment, agents, contractors, or subcontractors; or
  12. The identity of persons suspected of crimes or misdemeanors.

Purpose: The purpose of this Standard is to specify the form and manner whereby Private Investigators are recommended to post and maintain, or be covered by, a surety bond or a commercial general liability and errors and omissions insurance policy.

  1. All Private Investigators should post and maintain, or be covered by, a surety bond in the amount of at least $10,000; or post and maintain, or be covered by, a commercial general liability and errors and omissions insurance policy in the amount of at least $100,000.
  2. Each Private Investigator should maintain this surety bond or insurance policy for the duration of time he or she is actively engaged in private investigation activities.

Purpose: The purpose of this Standard is to list and define generally accepted standards of practice in the Private Investigator profession.

1. Contracts

A Private Investigator should enter into written contract with each client, except as detailed in this Standard. A Private Investigator is deemed to have entered into a written contract if the Private Investigator’s employer has entered into a contract which complies with the recommendations of this Standard.

A. The contract should include, at minimum, the following:

I. The date of the contract;

II. The parties to the contract;

III. A description of the services to be provided;

IV. A description of the fees required for the services to be provided;

V. A description of how or when the contract will terminate or may be terminated by one or both parties;

VI. A statement indicating the client has the right to receive both an oral and written report; and

VII. A statement indicating the number of days after a client’s request by which a Private Investigator should provide a written report to the client.

VIII. A statement assuring work-product confidentiality to the client; see Confidentiality 3. A. below.

B. A copy of the contract should be furnished to the client.

C. Nothing in this Standard requires a contract to be executed for each assignment or investigation. A Private Investigator’s contract with a client may cover numerous assignments or investigations.

D. A written contract may not be applicable under any of the following circumstances:

I. In an emergency situation when the services of the Private Investigator are required and there is no time to enter into a written contract before conducting the services;

II. When providing services to an attorney;

III. When providing services to another Private Investigator; or

IV. When providing services to an insurance company.

2. Conflicts of Interest

A. A Private Investigator should not represent more than one party in an investigation unless the Private Investigator fully discloses such relationship to the parties involved.

B. The Private Investigator should not accept compensation, financial or otherwise, from more than one party for services on or relating to the same investigation, set of circumstances, court case, or issues unless all interested parties consent in writing after full disclosure by the Private Investigator.

C. The Private Investigator should avoid all known conflicts of interest with his or her employer or client and should promptly inform his or her employer or client of any business association, interest, or circumstance which could influence his or her judgment or the quality of his or her services. When such a conflict is unavoidable, the Private Investigator should forthwith disclose the circumstances to his or her employer or client. A conflict exists when a Private Investigator, because of some personal interest, finds it difficult to devote himself or herself with loyalty and singleness of purpose to the best interest of his or her client or employer.

D. The Private Investigator should take reasonable steps to ascertain the existence of potential conflicts of interest among his or her employers or clients..

3. Confidentiality

A. Except as required by state or federal law, the Private Investigator should keep all information obtained in all cases confidential and for the use of the client only.

B. This Standard should not be construed to:

I. Limit a client’s ability to waive confidentiality;

II. Affect in any way the Private Investigator’s obligation to comply with a validly issued and enforceable subpoena or summons; or

III. Prohibit a Private Investigator from utilizing any such relevant information in the defense of a claim asserted against the Private Investigator.

4. Recordkeeping

A. Private Investigators should keep separate and distinct files for each client. These files should be kept for a minimum of seven years from the date the investigation is completed.

B. All records of each Private Investigator should be kept in a reasonably secure manner to prevent access by unauthorized parties. Each record should contain at least the following:

I. All contracts and written agreements with the client;

II. Date investigative activities began;

III. Any final written report;

IV. Accurate accounting of time spent;

V. Accurate accounting of activities conducted; and

VI. Accurate accounting of expenses incurred by the Private Investigator during the course of the investigation.

C. Records should be preserved in a manner which they are reasonably safe from intentional or accidental destruction and degradation.

D. Records should be stored in a readily accessible manner. “Readily accessible” means in a form which can be produced within ten days of the client’s request or judicial directive, under ordinary business conditions.

E. Record destruction should occur in a manner which ensures the records cannot be reconstructed.

5. Advertising

A. No Private Investigator should publish or cause to be published any advertisement, letterhead, circular, statement, or phrase of any sort which suggests the Private Investigator is an official law enforcement or investigative agency.

B. Any vehicle used by the Private Investigator which is marked in any manner by the use of painted signs, decals, or other means should not be of a design so similar to those of local, state, federal, or military authorities as to create confusion.

C. A Private Investigator should not falsify or permit misrepresentation of his or her academic or professional qualifications. He or she should not misrepresent or exaggerate his or her degree of responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments.

D. In the course of business as a Private Investigator, a Private Investigator should not wear, use, or display a badge, shield, or star which substantially resembles a badge, shield, or star used by a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency.

E. A Private Investigator may not use false, misleading, or deceptive advertising.

6. Business Standards and Compliance with Laws

A. A Private Investigator should obtain all necessary permits to conduct his or her business, included those to carry firearms, as applicable.

B. If carrying a concealed firearm, the Private Investigator must have the permit on his or her person.

C. A Private Investigator may not pretend to be a law enforcement officer or a peace officer including, but not limited to:

I. Operating a motor vehicle with flashing red or blue lights;

II. Wearing a uniform which closely resembles in style, color, accessories, or insignia the uniforms of law enforcement in whose jurisdiction the Private Investigator conducts business.

D. A Private Investigator may not advise any person to engage in an illegal act or course of conduct.

E. A Private Investigator may not violate state or federal laws, rules or regulations related to the care, handling or use of firearms or other dangerous weapons.

F. A Private Investigator may not neglect, fail, or refuse to render professional services to any person solely because of the person’s age, race, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, lawful source of income, or ancestry.

G. A Private Investigator may not fraudulently bill or charge a client. A Private Investigator should provide clients with a complete and comprehensive itemized statement of services and expenses within seven business days after having been requested to do so by the client.

H. A Private Investigator may not obtain or attempt to obtain anything of value from a client without the client’s consent.

I. In providing Private Investigator services, the Private Investigator should take into account all applicable laws and regulations and not knowingly provide services resulting in the violation of such laws and regulations.

J. The Private Investigator should be accurate and truthful in all professional reports, statements or testimony. He or she should include all relevant and pertinent information on such reports, statement, or testimony.

K. No Private Investigator should knowingly associate with or permit the use of his or her name in a business venture by any person or firm which he or she knows, or has reason to believe, is engaging in business or professional practice of a fraudulent or dishonest nature.

L. A Private Investigator may not knowingly violate a court order or injunction in the course of business as an investigator.

M. Private Investigators should obey all applicable federal, state, and local laws, including but not limited to criminal laws. “Criminal laws” include the penal ordinances and regulations of a political subdivision of a state or the agencies of the federal government. These criminal laws include but are not limited to those which involve stalking, harassment, invasion of privacy, wiretapping, credit reporting, and those which involve protection orders against defendants.

N. A Private Investigator should, prior to providing a client any personally identifying or location information of an individual, conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure the client’s purpose is in compliance with applicable Federal, State, or local laws, rules, and other applicable legal regulations or requirements and legal interest in obtaining the information. When such due diligence is not possible or appropriate, or if the client appears to not have a legal or business interest, the client should be informed their contact information will be provided to the individual they are seeking; and the personal identifying information of the individual will only be provided if the individual consents.

O. A Private Investigator may not engage in incompetent practice, or practices that are otherwise outside the acceptable practices and standards of the profession.

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