A fraud investigator works closely with the government, insurance agencies and crime prevention units to examine fraudulent activities involving social benefits, tax laws and monetary transactions. Through research, interrogations and surveillance, fraud investigators ensure that claims for reimbursements, tax reports and individual transactions are authentic.
The work of fraud investigators begins the moment they meet their clients and obtain the available evidence. They analyze the evidence provided and search databases to obtain and verify background information of the suspected individuals, potential accomplices and witnesses. Once they collect the information they need, fraud investigators will visit the suspected individuals to interview them. If necessary, they may go undercover to obtain information not otherwise available in the databases or from interviews.
Fraud investigators may also serve as expert witnesses in court cases involving fraud. They are required to be legal experts in their own field and be able to understand the legal framework governing fraud in the country.
Becoming a Fraud Investigator
Students who want to pursue careers as fraud investigators should have the right academic credentials to get decent jobs. Employers require candidates who have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or any other degree that focuses on law enforcement. Criminal justice and law enforcement degrees offer training on fraud detection, criminology, law, psychology, information technology, judicial process, crisis management and research methods.
Upon obtaining a degree, candidates must gain the necessary work experience. Employers require at least two years of experience in areas such as medical chart coding, insurance billing, fraud investigation and fraud prosecution. A good level of experience will help new investigators gain the confidence and skills they need to handle complex tasks and work independently.
Many states require fraud investigators to obtain a license in addition to education and work experience. The licensure process involves meeting the minimum educational requirements and passing a licensing exam.
Fraud investigators need to work with software effectively to track business rules and processes that might help identify fraudulent activities. They must know how to follow data trails to get access to hidden information. They must also be versatile, think critically and view things from an objective perspective.
Salary and Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the demand for fraud investigators and examiners is expected to grow by 1 percent in the next ten years. Though the demand is much lower, it does not mean those who want to be fraud investigators will not get employed. They can as well work as information security analysts, private investigators, law enforcement officers, paralegals and lawyers.
The Bureau also reports that investigators, examiners and adjusters earned an average annual salary of $63,670 in May 2016.
Pros and Cons of the Job
The pros of working as an investigator include minimal educational requirements, plenty of job training opportunities, a mixture of field and office work and an average income. The cons of this profession include a lot of stress from confrontations, strict and lengthy licensure process and prolonged working hours, including during weekends.
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In fraud investigation, one is required to conduct research, interviews and surveillance to identify fraud. As a fraud investigator, you may work for the government, insurance companies and crime prevention units when falsification of documents occurs.