CAlifornia Private Investigator Examination, CA Pi Test

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Investigation Quizzes & Trivia

Sundahl & Associates, is offering you the chance to get some free PI test study material (8 CA PI practice examination questions) These questions are an example of our PI Simulator, a collection of 150 California-specific PI Exam questions. The 8 questions featured were created in consideration of the 2012 changes to laws affecting private investigators in California. These questions may or may not be on the actual exam because the 2012 changes are so new. If you would like 150 complex and challenging questions which are similar in style and presentation to those found on the real Read moreexam (content is not exact), all presented in a format similar to the CA PI Exam. The format we are referring to is a fully computerized, four-part multiple choice questions, and a 2 hour time allotment. Best of all, most of our questions have a form of answer explanation!
Click here to view more study material on the California PI exam.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    Robert is a retail sales clerk. One day, he sees an old detective show on T.V. and decides he’d like to be a “Private Investigator” despite having no experience in the PI business. Though he never actually claims to be licensed, he buys some camera gear, puts on an old trench coat, and starts soliciting clients who pay him for his investigative services. Due to lack of experience, of course, Robert makes some serious mistakes and his angry clients report him to BSIS. What action may be taken against Robert?

    • A.

      BSIS may immediately have Robert arrested for misdemeanor fraud per Civ. Code §1572 and have him imprisoned in the county jail for up to 1 year.

    • B.

      BSIS may issue Robert a citation with an administrative fine of up to $5,000 and where appropriate, an order of abatement.

    • C.

      Robert may be fined $2,500 and charged with an infraction per B&P Code §7520.1(c); and at arraignment, Robert will have the option to elect to have his case proceed as a misdemeanor instead.

    • D.

      Authorities may ignore Robert because he has not actually broken any laws.

    Correct Answer
    B. BSIS may issue Robert a citation with an administrative fine of up to $5,000 and where appropriate, an order of abatement.
    Explanation
    Prior to December 2011, BSIS lacked enforcement authority over misdemeanor violations of the Private Investigator Act. An example of a misdemeanor violation was operating without a P.I. license. All unlicensed activity cases were cleared by either (1) the sending of an educational letter or (2) referral to the local District Attorney’s office. Additionally, BSIS was limited to issuing notice to appear citations for infractions provided the infraction occurred in the staff member’s presence.

    Today, under California Code of Regulations (CCR) § 601.6 (a), BSIS may issue a citation against any unlicensed person who is acting in the capacity of a licensee, registrant, permit holder, or certificate holder under the jurisdiction of the Bureau and who is not otherwise exempt from licensure. Each citation may contain an assessment of an administrative fine up to $5,000 and, where appropriate, an Order of Abatement (cease and desist).

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  • 2. 

    Sam is not a licensed private investigator; however advertises private investigation services in an online phone directory. What type of action can BSIS undertake?

    • A.

      Issue a citation with an administrative penalty up to $5,000 and an order to cease and desist.

    • B.

      BSIS does not have authority over internet advertising; therefore BSIS can do nothing but ask Sam to remove his listing.

    • C.

      Notify the local District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

    • D.

      Issue a citation with an administrative penalty up to $7,500.

    Correct Answer
    A. Issue a citation with an administrative penalty up to $5,000 and an order to cease and desist.
    Explanation
    Today, under California Code of Regulations § 601.1 (g), BSIS can issue a citation against the person who advertises without having a P.I. license. What is an advertisement? Under the new regulations, CCR § 601.1 (g), defines “advertisement” as “any business card, stationery, brochure, letter, pamphlet, newspaper, periodical, publication, flyer, circular, newsletter, fax form or other writing, radio, television, internet, or similar airwave or electronic transmission, printed or published advertisement in any media form, directory listing, online, or telephone book listing."

    If the violator uses a “telephone directory,” BSIS may issue an order of correction requiring the violator to do both of the following under §149:

    1. Cease the unlawful advertising.

    2. Notify the telephone company furnishing services to the violator to disconnect telephone service
    furnished to any telephone number contained in the unlawful advertising.

    A. If the violator fails to disconnect service, BSIS can notify the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the PUC shall require the telephone corporation to disconnect phone service.

    It also appears this section is limited to In the future, BSIS will probably seek the authority to have the violator contact his/her ISP (Internet Service Provider) or website hosting the advertisement.

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  • 3. 

    Private Investigator Mary is hired by attorney Sam to help prove his client is innocent of a crime he is accused of. Mary goes out to interview neighbors near the crime scene and runs into a sex offender who attacks her in his garage. Mary sprays him with a tear gas weapon she carries openly on her belt at all times and thus escapes unharmed. Mary has not taken any training courses for such a simple weapon because it works so easily. Which of the following is the best answer?

    • A.

      All Private Investigators should carry some form of self-defense weapon if they are doing any work in the field. Mary was smart to be prepared.

    • B.

      Mary has violated the B&P Code and the Penal Code and may have her PI license suspended immediately by the Dept of Consumer Affairs/BSIS.

    • C.

      Mary has not violated the law because the CA Penal Code §12403.5 specifically allows Private Investigators to carry tear gas (not guns) without taking a training course, as long as it is not concealed.

    • D.

      Mary may be issued a citation and a fine by BSIS for not taking the required BSIS teargas course in advance of carrying the weapon.

    Correct Answer
    B. Mary has violated the B&P Code and the Penal Code and may have her PI license suspended immediately by the Dept of Consumer Affairs/BSIS.
    Explanation
    California Penal Code §12403.5 was created to define when a private investigator can use a “tear gas weapon.” In fact, §12403.5 mentions a private investigator may possess a “tear gas weapon” if it is used “solely for defensive purposes in the course of activity for which the license was issued and if the person has satisfactorily completed a course of instruction approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs in the use of tear gas.” The wording of “tear gas weapon” includes pepper spray.”

    What if Mary had an employee who wanted to carry pepper spray or a tear gas weapon? B&P Code §7542.1 authorizes Mary’s employee to the weapon as long as the employee completes a certified tear gas weapon course.

    What if Mary wants to carry a “deadly weapon” such as a baton or firearm? B&P §7542 allows Mary to carry the weapon of choice if she completes a BSIS firearms and/or baton course AND a course called “Powers of Arrest” commonly known as the “Guard Card” course.

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  • 4. 

    A popular tabloid known as “Extreme Press,” hires a well known Private Investigator named “Robert.” Extreme Press requests Robert to locate a popular vocal artist named Janet Star.  Extreme Press also requests Robert to take close-up photographs of Janet’s face. Sources say Janet was recently beat by a former lover.   Robert is able to locate Janet shopping in a clothing store.  Robert approached Janet and asks her for an interview.  Janet declines mentioning “not now.” When Janet begins to walk out of the store, Robert uses his body to block the exit.  Robert says “hold on” and snaps several photographs of Janet. Which of the following is true?

    • A.

      Robert is able to take the photographs as long as he blocks Janet’s exit for a “reasonable” amount of time.

    • B.

      There is no crime, tort, or administrative violation since celebrities lose a “reasonable expectation of privacy” afforded to others without celebrity status.

    • C.

      The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services may impose a $3,000 fine and/or suspended/revoke Robert’s Private Investigator license.

    • D.

      Robert is liable for up to three times the amount of any general and special damages, disgorgement, subject to punitive damages, and a fine of not less than $5,000, but no more than $50,000.

    Correct Answer
    D. Robert is liable for up to three times the amount of any general and special damages, disgorgement, subject to punitive damages, and a fine of not less than $5,000, but no more than $50,000.
    Explanation
    The Anti-Paparazzi Law revisions became effective January 1, 2012. California Civil Code1708.8 (c) prohibits “an assault or false imprisonment committed with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff. “Additionally, this section provides a civil remedy of “three times the amount of any general and special damages, subject to punitive damages, and a fine of not less than $5,000, but no more than $50,000.”

    What if Janet Star was backing out of her driveway when Robert blocked her to obtain photos?
    California Vehicle Code § 21701, mentions “no person shall willfully interfere with the driver of a vehicle in such a manner as to affect the driver’s control of the vehicle.” Additionally, if the person’s interferes with the control of the vehicle with the “intent to capture any type of visual image” for a commercial purpose, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor (40008 [a] CVC)

    Make sure ALL parts of the answer are correct before selection. Currently, BSIS does not have $3,000 fine for violating the Vehicle Code or Civil Code 1708.8 (c); however, they may suspended/revoke your license.

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  • 5. 

    If you have any outstanding tax obligations due to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or the State Board of Equalization (BOE) and appears on either the FTB or BOE's certified lists of top 500 tax delinquencies over $100,000, BSIS is required to _________________________________.

    • A.

      Suspend the license/certificate/registration of any applicant or licensee.

    • B.

      Deny the application for an applicant for a period not to exceed 30 days or suspend the license for a period not to exceed 60 days.

    • C.

      Administer a fine of no less than $10,000, but no more than $5,000 and require the outstanding tax obligations be met.

    • D.

      Administer a fine of no less than $2,500, but no more than $5,000 and require the outstanding tax obligations be met within 90 days of notice.

    Correct Answer
    A. Suspend the license/certificate/registration of any applicant or licensee.
    Explanation
    AB 1424 is effective July 1, 2012. Under AB 1424, BSIS is required to deny an application for licensure and to the licensee who has outstanding tax obligations due to the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or the State Board of Equalization (BOE) and appears on either the FTB or BOE's certified lists of top 500 tax delinquencies over $100,000.

    Once the applicant or licensee is on the certified list they have 90 days from the issuance of a preliminary notice of suspension to either satisfy all outstanding tax obligations or enter into a payment installment program with the FTB or BOE. Any such person who fails to come into compliance will have his/her license denied or suspended until BSIS receives a release from the FTB or BOE.

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  • 6. 

    Mark, a private investigator is hired by Corporation XYZ to perform pre-employment background checks on prospective employees.   Which of the following is not true regarding the obtaining of credit reports for employment purposes?

    • A.

      Mark may not obtain a credit report for employment purposes under any circumstances.

    • B.

      Mark can obtain a credit report for an applicant applying for a managerial position.

    • C.

      Mark can obtain a credit report for an applicant applying for a position having regular access to bank or credit card information, social security numbers, and date of births.

    • D.

      Mark can obtain a credit report for an applicant applying for a position involving regular access to cash totaling $10,000 or more in one day.

    Correct Answer
    A. Mark may not obtain a credit report for employment purposes under any circumstances.
    Explanation
    Effective January 2012, California Labor Code 1024.5(a) mentions an employer or prospective employer shall not use a consumer credit report for employment purposes unless the position of the person for whom the report is sought is any of the following:

    A. A managerial position.

    B. A position in the state DOJ.

    C. L.E.O positions.

    D. Positions requiring regular access to bank or credit card account information, social security numbers, and date of births.

    E. Those authorized to retrieve, collect, or transfer employer accounts.

    F. Those who are employed or will be employed in a position involving access to confidential or propriety information.

    G. A position that involves regular access to cash totaling ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or more of the employer, a customer, or client, during the workday.

    Refer to the unabridged version of California Labor Code 1024.5(a), for more details.

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  • 7. 

    John, a private investigator is hired by Corporation XYZ to perform pre-employment background checks on prospective employees. Prior to requesting a consumer credit report for employment purposes, which of the following is true?

    • A.

      The user of the report must inform the person that a report will be used, identification of the specific basis for use of the report, source of report, and a check box if he/she desires a copy.

    • B.

      The user of the report must inform the person that a report will be used, identification of the specific basis for use of the report, and cost.

    • C.

      John may not use any form of consumer credit report for employment purposes.

    • D.

      The user of the report must inform the person that a report will be used and a statement mentioning the person has a right to an attorney.

    Correct Answer
    A. The user of the report must inform the person that a report will be used, identification of the specific basis for use of the report, source of report, and a check box if he/she desires a copy.
    Explanation
    Effective January 2012, §1785.20.5 (a) of the California Civil Code was amended to read “Prior to requesting a consumer credit report for employment purposes, the user of the report shall provide written notice to the person involved. The notice shall inform the person that a report will be used, and shall identify the specific basis under subdivision (a) of Section 1024.5 of the Labor Code for use of the report. The notice shall also inform the person of the source of the report, and shall contain a box that the person may check off to receive a copy of the credit report. If the consumer indicates that or she wishes to receive a copy of the report, the user shall request that a copy be provided to the person when the user requests its copy from the credit reporting agency. The report to the user and to the subject person shall be provided contemporaneously and at no charge to the subject person.”

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  • 8. 

    Which of the following is true regarding the denial of employment based wholly or partly because of information contained in a consumer credit report?

    • A.

      The user of the report must advise the applicant that an adverse action has been taken and supply the name and address or addresses of the consumer credit reporting agency making the report.

    • B.

      The applicant may file a lawsuit under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    • C.

      The user of the report must report the findings to the Department of Labor, then the Federal Trade Commission.

    • D.

      The user of the report does not have to do anything.

    Correct Answer
    A. The user of the report must advise the applicant that an adverse action has been taken and supply the name and address or addresses of the consumer credit reporting agency making the report.
    Explanation
    A P.I. agency can be viewed as a consumer credit reporting agency depending on the actions taken by the agency.

    Effective January 1, 2012, §1785.20.5 (b) of the California Civil Code was amended to read: Whenever employment involving a consumer is denied either wholly or partly because of information contained in a consumer credit report from a consumer credit reporting agency, the user of the consumer credit report shall so advise the consumer against whom the adverse action has been taken and supply the name and address or addresses of the consumer credit reporting agency making the report. No person shall be held liable for any violation of this section if he or she shows by a preponderance of the evidence that, at the time of the alleged violation, he or she maintained reasonable procedures to assure compliance with this section.

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