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What you need to know about social media investigations

MILTON, Ont. – If you’ve lied about a recent insurance claim, you could be outed thanks to your Facebook page.

That was the warning given by Maeve Davis, vice-president of client services at ISB Canada at a seminar hosted in Milton, Ont. today hosted by the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC).

Davis warned that a new kind of investigating – social media investigating — has helped in theft and fraud investigations involving false insurance claims recently.

What people post on their personal social media sites, is a “treasure trove of public information,” Davis said.

“Social media is an intrinsic part of people’s identity,” she said. “It’s publicly available information that is a key tool in investigation. And it’s just that, a tool in the tool box. It’s not a smoking gun.”

Davis said that in many instances social media investigations have helped confirm if someone suspected of theft has has a recent lifestyle change or has made major purchases, like a new car or has gone on holidays.

While many think that what they post is their own personal Facebook page or Twitter account is private, Davis says it’s not.

“Once people post anything on social media it becomes public information,” she said. “That’s it. There’s no grey area there.”

She did say that some people do put a lot of privacy settings on their social media platforms to ensure those who aren’t their friends cannot see what they post, however.

Investigators are not allowed to create an alias to ‘friend you’ to view your posts, she said.

Davis recalled a recent case where an individual who was on disability because of a back injury. His insurance was skeptical of his claim, and sure enough when they hired a social media investigator they found on his public Facebook page that he had participated in a triathlon while on medical leave for his injured back.

Another investigation let to confirmation of a driver involved in a cargo theft case. A driver arrived late to drop off a trailer in an unsecured yard. With the approval of the company, he left the trailer there as it was being picked up by another driver the following morning.

“When the driver came in the morning to pick up the trailer and continue the transport, it was gone,” she said. “The company reported it to police and insurance company. The insurance company assigned one of our investigators to the case.”

The social media investigators found that the drivers had recent lifestyles changes, like new cars and property in the last couple of years, so it was sufficient enough for investigators to further question the drivers in the case.

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