Workers’ compensation fraud costs at an estimated $7.2 billion a year, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
But how do you know if a claim is fraudulent? There are several warning signs. Some include Monday morning reports of an injury that happened the previous week, conflicting descriptions of how the injury occurred, or no witnesses and a repeated history of claims.
We all know how popular Social Media is today. Regardless of age, the young, old, and everyone in between seems to love posting ‘selfies’ and sharing news with their friends about their day or personal views on current events. BUT did you know that Social Media is also playing an increasing role in uncovering Workers’ Compensation Fraud?
A completed Facebook profile can contain up to 40 pieces of personal information – Wow! Think your privacy settings prevent people from finding your information easily – think again! By researching the profiles of a claimant’s family and friends, investigators usually can find pictures and other information that has been publicly shared about the claimant. There is no such thing as true privacy unless you live off the grid. Insurance investigations are aided by social media in the following ways:
• confirming policy application information
• confirming facts of loss
• confirming alibi
• verifying disability status
• locating witnesses
Photos found on social media sites may include metadata that can offer details on a person’s location when the photo was taken.
While social media can provide valuable information to prove insurance fraud or abuse, investigators need to be sure that they conduct such research appropriately. Investigators should not try to “friend” or connect with claimants they are researching on social media. You want to make sure you’re acting in an ethical way and not trying to go around any privacy settings they have.
Every company looking to control workers comp and litigation claim costs should use social media research to their advantage. Companies should index information on claimants’ social media profiles as soon as possible after a claim is filed — before the person can edit their social media presence.
It’s also wise to have a company social media policy – guidelines, best practices, and tips for your employees. Without a clear policy in place, you could face embarrassment by what employees post and even face legal issues. Here’s why a social media policy is important:
• Educating your employees on social media and each site’s policies
• The link between personal and professional can be blurred and personal can often bleed into how they are perceived professionally
• Employers and employees need to respect the professional boundaries of co-workers – don’t bring personal social media into the workplace
• Also, keep work issues off personal social media – use the right channels within the company vs. posting them online
• Make it clear on their personal sites that they do not represent the view of the company they are employed by
• Never post confidential or proprietary information
A social media policy takes the guesswork out of what is appropriate for employees to post about your company to their social networks. In the end, it will help protect your company, your brand, and your bottom line.