Ohio issues three types of licenses to the private investigator & security guard providers. The types of licenses are:
Class A License: Private Investigation & Security Guard Provider
Class B License: Private Investigation Provider
Class C License: Security Guard Provider
Any private investigator or person that is in the business of private investigation must be licensed by the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS). The business of private investigation is the conducting, for hire, in person or through a partner or employees, of any investigation relevant to any crime or wrong done or threatened, or to obtain information on the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, transactions, reputation, credibility, or character of any person, or to locate and recover lost or stolen property, or to determine the cause of or responsibility for any libel or slander, or any fire, accident, or damage to property, or to secure evidence for use in any legislative, administrative, or judicial investigation or proceeding. ORC 4749.01(B)
Any person that is in the business of providing security services must be licensed by the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS). The business of security services includes: the furnishing, for hire, watchmen, guards, private patrolmen, or other persons whose primary duties are to protect persons or property; Furnishing, for hire, guard dogs, or armored motor vehicle security services, in connection with the protection of persons or property. ORC 4749.01(D)
There is activity that is specifically exempted from licensure requirements. In other words, persons that engage in the exempted activity are not required to be licensed by the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS). Below is a list of the exempted activity:
(1) Public officers and employees whose official duties require them to engage in investigatory activities;
(2) Attorneys at law or any expert hired by an attorney at law for consultation or litigation purposes;
(3) A consumer reporting agency, as defined in the "Fair Credit Reporting Act," 84 Stat. 1128, 15 U.S.C.A. 1681a, as amended, provided that the consumer reporting agency is in compliance with the requirements of that act and that the agency's activities are confined to any of the following:
(a) The issuance of consumer credit reports;
(b) The conducting of limited background investigations that pertain only to a client's prospective tenant and that are engaged in with the prior written consent of the prospective tenant;
(c) The business of pre-employment background investigation. As used in division (H)(3)(c) of this section, "business of pre-employment background investigation" means, and is limited to, furnishing for hire, in person or through a partner or employees, the conducting of limited background investigations, in-person interviews, telephone interviews, or written inquiries that pertain only to a client's prospective employee and the employee's employment and that are engaged in with the prior written consent of the prospective employee.
(4) Certified public insurance adjusters that hold a certificate of authority issued pursuant to sections 3951.01 to 3951.09 of the Revised Code, while the adjuster is investigating the cause of or responsibility for a fire, accident, or other damage to property with respect to a claim or claims for loss or damage under a policy of insurance covering real or personal property;
(5) Personnel placement services licensed under Chapter 4143. of the Revised Code and persons who act as employees of such entities engaged in investigating matters related to personnel placement activities;
(6) An employee in the regular course of the employee's employment, engaged in investigating matters pertinent to the business of his or her employer or protecting property in the possession of his or her employer, provided the employer is deducting all applicable state and federal employment taxes on behalf of the employee and neither the employer nor the employee is employed by, associated with, or acting for or on behalf of any private investigator or security guard provider;
(7) Any better business bureau or similar organization or any of its employees while engaged in the maintenance of the quality of business activities relating to consumer sales and services;
(8) An accountant who is registered or certified under Chapter 4701. of the Revised Code or any of the accountant's employees while engaged in activities for which the accountant is certified or registered;
(9) Any person who, for hire or otherwise, conducts genealogical research in this state. As used in division (H)(9) of this section, "genealogical research" means the determination of the origins and descent of families, including the identification of individuals, their family relationships, and the biographical details of their lives. "Genealogical research" does not include furnishing for hire services for locating missing persons or natural or birth parents or children.
(10) Any person residing in this state who conducts research for the purpose of locating the last known owner of unclaimed funds, provided that the person is in compliance with Chapter 169. of the Revised Code and rules adopted thereunder. The exemption set forth in division (H)(10) of this section applies only to the extent that the person is conducting research for the purpose of locating the last known owner of unclaimed funds.
As used in division (H)(10) of this section, "owner" and "unclaimed funds" have the same meanings as in section 169.01 of the Revised Code.
(11) A professional engineer who is registered under Chapter 4733. of the Revised Code or any of his employees.
As used in division (H)(11) of this section and notwithstanding division (I) of this section, "employee" has the same meaning as in section 4101.01 of the Revised Code.
(12) Any person residing in this state who, for hire or otherwise, conducts research for the purpose of locating persons to whom the state of Ohio owes money in the form of warrants, as defined in division (S) of section 131.01 of the Revised Code, that the state voided but subsequently reissues.
(13) An independent insurance adjuster who, as an individual, an independent contractor, an employee of an independent contractor, adjustment bureau association, corporation, insurer, partnership, local recording agent, managing general agent, or self-insurer, engages in the business of independent insurance adjustment, or any person who supervises the handling of claims except while acting as an employee of an insurer licensed in this state while handling claims pertaining to specific policies written by that insurer.
As used in division (H)(13) of this section, "independent insurance adjustment" means conducting investigations to determine the cause of or circumstances concerning a fire, accident, bodily injury, or damage to real or personal property; determining the extent of damage of that fire, accident, injury, or property damage; securing evidence for use in a legislative, administrative, or judicial investigation or proceeding, adjusting losses; and adjusting or settling claims, including the investigation, adjustment, denial, establishment of damages, negotiation, settlement, or payment of claims in connection with insurance contractors, self-insured programs, or other similar insurance programs. "Independent adjuster" does not include either of the following:
(a) An attorney who adjusts insurance losses incidential* to the practice of law and who does not advertise or represent that he or she is an independent insurance adjuster;
(b) A licensed agent or general agent of an insurer licensed in this state who processes undisputed or uncontested losses for insurers under policies issued by that agent or general agent.
Persons or entities that are licensed will have several forms of identification that will serve as proof of licensure. The first form of identification is a wall license, which must be displayed in a conspicuous place in the principal place of business of the licensee. The wall license must include the licensee’s name, classification of the license, the location of the licensee’s principal place of business in this state and the expiration date of the license.
The second form of identification is an identification card. The identification card includes the name of the licensee, the classification of the license and the location of the licensee’s principal place of business in this state and the expiration date of the license.
A licensee may not carry a firearm in the course of engaging in the business of private investigation or security services unless:
1. The licensee has successfully completed a basic firearm training program at a training school approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC), and
2. The licensee receives a notation from the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS), on the licensee’s identification card that the licensee is a firearm-bearer, and
3. The licensee carries the identification card whenever the licensee carries a firearm, and
1. Request that the private investigator or security guard provide you with evidence of licensure
2. Verify licensure with the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS)
3. Inquire with the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS) as to any previous complaints, disciplinary action or pending investigations against the licensee
4. If licensee will be carrying a firearm during the assignment, verify with the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS) that the licensee has a current firearm bearer certification
5. Request to see evidence of worker’s compensation risk coverage and unemployment compensation insurance coverage
6. Request the names and phone numbers of references or previous clients
7. Require all agreements to be in writing, including a specific outline of what work is to be performed, how much time should be spent on the assignment, how the time will be accounted for, the maximum amount of money that will be spent and the substance of and when the final report will be due.
8. For security guards, inquire as to the training of the guards (i.e. OPOTC basic security guard school, CPR, first aid)
Private Investigator or Security Guard Licensee
1. Understand the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS) cannot order the payment of monetary damages or restitution to the complainant.
2. Verify the person complained of is actually licensed by the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS). The Division only has jurisdiction to address complaints against licensees. For example, if the person you are complaining about is not required to have a license because they are exempted from licensure (see above) then the Division cannot initiate an investigation against that person.
3. File of a verified written complaint with the Private Investigator Security Guard Services (PISGS).
4. The complaint should be submitted with any supporting evidence and documentation.
5. Make sure you sign the complaint and provide your address and phone number so we may contact you for any additional information. Unfortunately, anonymous complaints cannot be fully investigated because of the lack of evidence and inability to gather further information.
6. Try to specify the conduct you believe the licensee committed that is in violation of license law. (see below for prohibited conduct).
The license of a licensee may be revoked, suspended, not renewed or a civil penalty imposed against the licensee for any of the following:
1. Conviction of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude
2. Testifying falsely under oath, or suborning perjury in any judicial proceeding
3. Acting as a licensee without an active license
4. Knowingly making a false report with respect to any matter with which the licensee is employed
5. Divulging any information acquired from or for a client to persons other than the client or the licensee’s authorized agent without express authorization to do so, unless required by law
6. Knowingly accepting employment which includes obtaining information intended for illegal purposes
7. Knowing authorizing or permitting another to violate Ohio license law
8. Advertising as a licensee when the person is actively licensed
9. Advertising or utilizing a vehicle that suggests the licensee is an official law enforcement or investigative agency or any other agency or instrumentality of the state of Ohio or any of its political subdivisions
10. Failure to include in all advertising the legal name or “Trade Name” of the licensee and the address under which the is licensed to do business
11. Failure to keep true and correct record of all business transactions
12. If wearing uniforms, wearing uniforms that do not have an identifying patch that is distinct and visible at all times. The name of the licensee must be clearly displayed on the patches
13. Failure of the licensee to make available to a client a contract which is binding on both parties