Forensic Accountants May Need PI License

More than 40 states are requiring CPAs who practice forensic accounting to obtain a private investigator license, and the AICPA is trying to spread the word.

The AICPA has published an online guide for its members that shows whether the tasks they perform in their practice require them to obtain a private investigator’s license in the states and/or cities in which they do business. The AICPA’s Forensic & Valuation Section believes many CPAs may not be aware that they may be breaking the law, the Journal of Accountancy reported.

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,” the magazine said.

State requirements for obtaining a P.I. license and the penalties for failing to do so vary.