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The Reason You Got Burned: Your Window Tint

So, you’re a private investigator on a stakeout. It’s a bright, sunny day. You’re in your car in a fixed surveillance position and your Subject somehow becomes aware of you. Did you get burned because of your window tint?

The Setup

As a P.I. window tint is a must – it keeps you out of view from neighbors, onlookers, and of course, your Subject.

But, before slapping some on your windows, it’s important to know your state’s laws and general info.

Each state has laws for the front side, backside, rear windows, windshield, and reflectivity.

When you see data on window tint, you’ll see it categorized by percentage.

Rule of thumb: The lower the percentage, the DARKER the tint, and less sunlight can come into your car. The higher the percentage the lighter the tint and more sun can come in.

tint law rule of thumb

I went ahead and linked to the laws in all 50 states (click here)tint laws in 50 statesHere’s a handy little US map for the level of tint allowed from front side windows:

Let’s take Ohio and Kentucky for example, the states in which I’m licensed.

The front side window is at 35%. This means you can’t have a tint that allows less than 35% of the rays on your front side window.

It’s 18% on both the rear side and rear back windows. So you can go darker tint there.

The windshield tint allows that you can place a strip of tint to the top of the car manufacturer’s “AS-1” line.

as-1

The AS-1 line is a line extending from the AS-1, found on most motor vehicle windshields.

It runs parallel to the top of the windshield or at about 5 inches.

In Ohio, only 50% is allowed on front side windows.

But any level, even limo tint, is allowed on the rear side and rear back windows. So, we can go crazy there.

In Ohio, we can tint our front windshield to less than 70%.

My two cents: if you can, get your rear side and back windows as dark as possible.

Especially, if you have an SUV or minivan. When you add dark tint to the rear windows, they don’t seem to change the look of your car that much.

That’s because most factory-made large vehicles come with a high level of rear tint as it is.

But, if you can match the front and back window tint, I tend to go that route.

It’s visually appealing and it makes your car blend in well.

My cars also have had the 5” band across the top of the windshield.

Though some installers won’t put it there if you a “frit” band. Those tiny little dots around the edge of your windshield.

frit band

I avoid reflective tint, because it stands out – it doesn’t blend in too well.

I’m not against limo tint.

But if you’re parked for extended periods in your car in a suburban area, it might bring more attention than less.

When it comes to the law though, I actually could receive a fine for my tint.

I’d be willing to pay that fine.

In my 15 years of driving with “illegal” tint, I’ve never been pulled over and never been cited for it.

I chalk it up to that police officers aren’t looking to cite someone for window tint. It’s a minor offense and since so many already have it, it’s not worth it for them to stop me.

So, depending on how aggressive your local PD is, it’s up to you how “illegal” you want to tint your windows.

Also, some states allow exemptions. Under some state laws, private investigators can get exemptions on window tinting.

So check your local statutes and revised code for those details.

Quick Tint Tips

Even though you have window tint, the sun can shine through, exposing your silhouette.

#1 – Make sure you angle your car to avoid direct sun glare.

I always like to park with the sun at the back of my car if I can and not blasting through the front window.

In cold months, the sun is low and can do that to you.

#2 – Find some shade wherever you park.

When I find a stationary spot and park on the street, I usually try to park where there is an overhanging tree.

It doubles the effectiveness of your car’s tint.

#3 – I always have a front window shade to block out any sun coming in the front window and any onlookers.

I get shades that you can pop in and out quickly into your front windshield.

#4 – If you’re in a van or larger vehicle, sitting in the rear seats and using window curtains are huge too.

Passersby seem to only pay attention to who is in the driver’s seat and don’t notice people in the back seat.

Curtains block out any silhouette.

Also, some minivans come stock with mesh shades that pull up from the sliding door.

So you may not even need curtains on the side windows.

#5 – If you’re renting a vehicle and don’t want to use your own to save on mileage, I always ask for an SUV or minivan.

They come stock with factory-level rear side and back window shade.

The front windows aren’t tinted, but I assume I’ll be sitting in the rear of the vehicle anyways.

Over to you…

What percentage do you have in your windows?

Have you ever been given a ticket for illegal window tint?

Comment below. Let me know.

The Reason You Got Burned: Driving By Too Slowly

The Reason You Got Burned: Driving By Too Slowly

So, you’re a private investigator on surveillance and you got burned and you don’t know why. Was it because you drove past your Subject’s house too slowly?

The Setup 

So, drive-by video. I learned this lesson early on in my career.

It became ingrained in my brain.

Why?

Because I was assigned to a two-person surveillance operation on workers’ compensation claimant in a rural area of Ohio. Like, we’re talking Amish country people. You’ve got horse and buggy, oxen plowing fields, and epic Amish beards.

But, the reason it was a two-man operation wasn’t that it was so rural, but because the previous investigative team (not from our firm) had been burned on it before.

So, our Claimant was already “heated up.”

And we knew why – the client had provided the previous report and video to us, so we knew what they had done wrong.

This Claimant lived on a country road, and the previous investigators had driven past the house too often, and, too slowly.

Eventually, the claimant, who had a residence with a huge bay window at the front of his house, caught on to the drive-bys.

I mean, he probably knew all his neighbors’ cars as it was, and seeing two cars he’d never seen before drive by every half-hour alerted him.

And this was all in the report – the claimant actually got into his own car and tailed the investigators out of the county.

The Problem

Look, I get it. When you first get onsite to a residence, your natural inclination is to a good establishing shot. You wanna get a shot of the house, the layout, note the plates and vehicles on-site, on top of any action that might be going on.

But that doesn’t mean driving along the road at normal speeds and then all of sudden, dropping it down to a crawl to get some drive-by footage.

That’s a disaster in the making.

So, I’m here to help.

The Fix

First, obviously, don’t ever drive by the house too slowly. There’s no reason for it.

When you do drive-bys, go at a normal speed every time. As if you were an average joe living in the area.

But when you’re shooting video, get the house in the frame early and pan left or right as you pass the house.

Also, while this is going on, zoom in at first and then zoom out wide as you pass by the house to frame everything up nicely.

It’ll take some practice to both stay on the road with one hand and pan and zoom with your camera hand.

The key is to keep it steady. Keep it level.

This isn’t shaky cam footage Jason Bourne.

If you wanna get really fancy you can get ahold of a window mount, one with a suction cup, and fix your camcorder or even a dash camera to the second-row window of your surveillance vehicle.

Press record, do the drive-by, and later edit out what’s unnecessary.

There’s a link below to a mount to get you started: https://amzn.to/2Yh1NWO

Second, especially in rural areas, limit your drive-bys to every hour or so.

You can certainly do drive-bys every half-hour, but only when you feel you need to.

Like if there have been multiple cars coming and going from the residential area, it’s lunchtime for the Claimant, or something similar.

And don’t just come back up the road in which you initially drove down. Give it time.

Driving by the house within a couple of minutes of each other is suspicious.

Instead, drive by the first time and “flank” back to your original surveillance position by going around the “block” assuming there’s another route to get to your original spot.

However, if the residence is in a hollow (like in Kentucky), like a no-outlet street, I’d limit my drive-bys to every two hours.

And, I know what you’re thinking – I could use drone footage or an unmanned surveillance camera hidden in a rock or safety cone to get static video.

Hold your horses, James Bond. That’s a video for another day.

For now, let’s just stick with the basics.

Third, hide your camera.

It may sound simple but what’s worked for me is to actually place my camera hand or monopod on the top of my left arm to stabilize and hide the camera.

I’ll do this if the residence is on my left side.

If the residence is on my right side, I’ll actually place my camera behind the passenger side headrest to get drive-by footage.

These simple methods help to prevent people from seeing my camera through my front windshield as I drive by.

This is me trying to be as casual as possible.

Lastly, and I can’t believe I have to say this but close your windows when filming drive-bys.

If you can’t get the footage because your windows are foggy or dirty, clean those things before getting onsite for crying out loud.

Overall, use the KISS method – keep it simple, stupid.

Drive by the residence like a normal person would (not too slowly!), limit drive-bys to every hour, hide your camera, and keep your windows up.

And, just in case you were wondering. Even with the knowledge of the previous investigation, we still couldn’t get much of anything on that Claimant in rural Ohio. But, at least he didn’t tail us.

Anybody wanna volunteer to take that case??

Over to you…

What ways can you prevent from getting burned?

Comment below.

Workplace Accident Investigations

Workplace Accident Investigations

Many workplaces equate a workplace accident investigation by identifying the party to blame for it. The actual goal of a workplace accident investigation is to prevent its re-occurrence.

While your firm may tackle the workers’ compensation process alone, we believe you better serve your company and its employees’ safety by including a private investigation firm in the total process. Your investigation needs to go beyond the party at fault and make prevention the focus of the investigation.

Accident Investigations and Safer Workplaces

The overarching goal of a workplace accident is to identify the cause of the injuries, followed by developing procedures and processes to prevent future injuries. This process starts with proper evidence collection and information gathering.

Certainly, in the US and Canada, workplace accident investigations form an integral part of legal compliance with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards. They’re also vital for determining the accident’s cost, to process workers’ compensation claims, and to determine the level of compliance with OSHA regulations.

While OSHA’s focus will center on the incident report and the proper medical treatment of injured employees, your investigation should focus beyond that to the causal factors.

Documenting Process

The quickest and easiest way to administer the investigation is to create and document the process before it is needed. Develop the paperwork and the process formats before their need arises. While the scope of an investigation may differ, the overall process remains the same. A process should remain the same from investigation to investigation to keep the value of any conclusions consistent.

The “Who” in the Investigation

Within your organization, the immediate supervisor of the injured worker should conduct the investigation. The risk manager or safe workplace practitioner may assist, along with any investigative or review committee in existence. Senior management personnel, engineering staff, and the firm’s attorneys may also join in an investigation involving a fatality. During the investigation, you should interview:

  • any injured employees,
  • accident witnesses,
  • witnesses to events preceding the accident,
  • the injured employees’ immediate supervisor unless they’re heading the investigation.
  • The injured employee may have an employee representative present during their interview.

The “What” in the Investigation

The “what” in the investigation refers to the information you collect to determine the accident’s cause and those involved. The data you obtain will later enable your analysis to determine a preventative method for future occurrences. During the investigative process, you should collect:

  •  the employee characteristics such as age and gender, department, job title, experience level, job and company tenure, training records and their hiring status,
  •  the injury characteristics of each injured employee including an injury or illness description, severity, and body part(s) affected,
  •  an events sequence and a narrative description from each involved party and each witness,
  •  characteristics of all equipment involved in the accident,
  •  task descriptions featuring specific characteristics of its performed when the accident occurred,
  •  any factors related to time such as the time of day, placement within their shift, etc.
  •  supervision data such as whether they were under direct supervision or not at all,
  •  causal factors such as the contributing workplace conditions,
  •  corrective actions are taken whether immediate, interim, or long-term.

 The “How” of Your Investigation

The “how” refers to the tools with which you investigate the accident. Having a ready to go kit will help you complete a timely investigation. This kit needs to include:

  •  investigation and interview forms,
  •  barricade markers/tape,
  •  padlocks or warning tags,
  •  camera or video recorder,
  •  voice recorder,
  •  measuring tape,
  •  flashlight,
  •  sample containers.

Having this kit ready to go lets you begin interviewing people immediately after the event occurs. You’ll produce better results by building rapport with injured employees and witnesses. Reassure each person interviewed that you want to fact-find. They need to know it is not about determining fault.

Your full investigation will also include a background investigation that reviews the employment and injury records of each injured employee, as well as, any other party whose actions may have contributed to the accident. Pay close attention to reports of any injuries or damage to equipment, machines, buildings, or property.

Interviewing Techniques

Interview each individual separately. Have each person recount their recollection of the account uninterrupted. Record their response and take notes.

After their recount, ask any clarifying questions needed. Repeat the factual information they said to clarify inconsistencies. One of the key questions you will ask is “What do you think could have prevented this?”

Remember that you need to uncover the causal factors to prevent them from ever happening again. Ask “why?” of those you interview.

Six Steps to Better Investigations

Succinctly, you can sum up a properly administered investigation in six steps. These are:

  1. Handle the immediate risk by obtaining immediate medical help for the injured employee(s). Cordon off the incident area to preserve evidence and deny access. Report the accident/incident to OSHA.
  2. Collect evidence as soon as possible after the injured have been removed for medical attention.
  3. Conduct the investigation interviews as soon as possible. You can interview witnesses while the injured receive medical attention. This immediacy provides the most accurate details.
  4. Analyze your findings. Your analysis develops the corrective actions that will stop it from happening again.
  5. Write your findings report. This summarizes the incident and describes the corrective actions applied to prevent its reoccurrence.
  6. Apply corrective actions. Implement new procedures to ensure the prevention of future accidents. This might include machine replacement or repairs or signage.

 Determining Deeper Causality

Once combined and analyzed, the accident photos, videos, interviews, and physical evidence should lead you to the deeper causality of the accident. Pay close attention to potentially contributing environmental conditions such as weather, light, and noise. Also, examine extenuating factors and externalities.

The accident investigation becomes an opportunity for you to discover an improvement for your company’s business processes. The focus should be on identifying flaws in the process that lead to the incident. It should unearth the reason that procedures were not followed or what prevented them from happening.

Your final report should discuss the contributing, direct, and indirect causes of the accident. Reference data that support each cause.

While your ultimate goal is the prevention of future accidents, a secondary goal is preparation for possible litigation. This is a likely outcome if the accident resulted in severe injuries or fatalities.

The lessons learned from each accident can help prevent larger ones in the future. It’s also important to investigate so that employees and regulators see that your company consistently pursues its commitment to a safe workplace.

Key Questions to Ask

During the interviews, you need to focus on questions that will help you answer larger, deeper issues. Your interview focus should apply queries that help you eventually address the following questions.

  •  Was a hazardous condition or defective tool a contributing factor?
  •  Did the worker’s location or equipment location contribute to the accident?
  •  Did the established job procedure or process contribute to the accident?
  •  Did the employee’s ability to perform the job contribute to the accident?
  •  Did any mandates such as speed incentives or production quotas encourage deviation from job procedures that contributed to the accident?
  •  Was lack of personal protective equipment or emergency equipment a contributing factor?
  •  Did management or a manager’s decision contribute to the accident?

The answers you derive from evidentiary analysis help you determine the appropriate prevention methods to pursue. This could mean a need for new procedures or the need for new equipment. This may also indicate the need for employee education and training or for improved education and training. Another potential result is the need for additional safety gear or to develop or improve protection from natural hazards or phenomena. Finally, it could also point to the need for or improvement of systems to account for possible physical, physiological, or psychological limitations of employees.

Your investigation of any workplace accident should include a background investigation, site investigation, interviews, analysis, and a final report. The aftereffect of the investigation should be amended or new procedures and processes. During your investigation, remember that placing blame is not the reason for your investigation – creating a safer workplace that in the future prevents its re-occurrence is.

While your company could tackle the workers’ compensation process alone, we believe you better serve your company and its employees with a safer workplace by including our private investigation firm in the total process. We help you take your investigation beyond finding the party at fault and to developing preventative measures that keep the accident from repeating itself. Commit to a safer workplace by developing a standardized workplace accident investigation procedure and process. The work you do today results in a safer, stronger workplace tomorrow for all of your employees.

How to Hire a Private Investigator: The 12 Basic Questions You Should Ask

Effective Return to Work (RTW) Programs

Companies of all sizes should have return-to-work (RTW) programs in place. When an injured employee makes a seamless transition back to full duty, everybody wins.

Ideally, RTW programs (sometimes called modified duty, light-duty, and transitional duty) are launched with extensive training in how to avoid injury in the first place. The best time to implement a program is before someone strains a back, takes a hard fall, or inhales toxic fumes.

Still, it’s never too late to put safety first.

The Goal OF RTW PROGRAMS

Workers who were hurt or made ill on the job need time to get up to speed. Good programs help employees ease back into full productivity without reinjury.

During recovery, light-duty jobs are modified to accommodate physical limitations.

It’s true that RTW programs require planning, collaboration, and training. They take time to develop. But, their success is a product of trial and error.

However, companies that design effective programs are never sorry that they did. Boosting productivity, morale and the bottom line always pays off.

Benefits for Employers

The biggest perk for employers is a reduction in Workers’ Compensation costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, payments to injured or sickened workers approached a whopping $40 billion in 2015.

Injured employees who return to work even part-time collect fewer benefits.

Also, Workers’ Compensation premiums are often the largest expense after payroll. Keeping accidents and injuries to a minimum keeps premiums in line.

Effective RTW programs also limit fraudulent and abusive claims. If your boss were genuinely interested in your recovery and accommodated you with light-duty, wouldn’t you be less inclined to scam him?

Along the same lines, private investigation is rarely called for when employees get back to work quickly.

Even a little productivity is better than none, and retaining good workers saves a fortune in hiring and training costs.

For all these reasons, RTW programs make good business sense.

Benefits for Employees

Continuing to earn income — even if wages are temporarily reduced for light-duty — keeps food on the table. There are also physical and psychological benefits.

Private investigation usually exposes injured workers who attempt to cheat the system, but it sometimes reveals just how isolating and depressing a serious injury can be.

Experts agree that returning to work, even on a limited basis, speeds recovery. Purpose, socialization, and a sense of one’s own value have a positive impact on health.

Making RTW Programs Effective

The hardest part is getting started, but employers who drag their feet could soon find themselves out of business.

It’s a collective effort. If you’re in safety, risk management, Workers’ Compensation or law, business owners and executives could use your help.

Here are some factors that distinguish truly effective programs:

Safety is ingrained in the workplace culture

What does that look like?

The best programs are a valued part of the company culture just like teamwork or work-life balance.

Time and financial resources are invested in safety. Training is thorough and unrushed. Safety is the first item on the agenda of every meeting.

Safety is a condition of employment, and there are consequences for violating rules. Workers are comfortable pointing out unsafe conditions or behavior.

Licenses and certifications are current. There are high standards for documenting injuries.

Not surprisingly, injury rates are low or nonexistent.

Everyone is on board

Management is 100% committed, and workers at all levels know that their superiors embrace safety as a core value.

It takes a natural leader with an engaging personality to make that happen.

Hazards are identified and addressed

New companies identify jobs, equipment, or workspaces with high potential for injury. Older companies review their history to pinpoint the most common injuries and find out how they occurred.

The RTW team brainstorms about ways to protect workers in those positions. Certain jobs may be modified. Safer equipment might be installed. Training may be reevaluated.

This is a great time to ask at-risk employees for suggestions.

Thorough job descriptions are published

Existing job descriptions include duties, physical requirements, and functional requirements such as standing or heavy lifting.

Planners have even thought of ways to convert existing jobs to transitional duty.

For instance, a kitchen steward with a back injury shouldn’t lift 50-pound bags of rice, but there are plenty of onions to chop and potatoes to peel. There may even be bigger fish to fry.

Jobs have also been cobbled together for alternate duty. Ideas include oiling machinery, taking inventory, labeling shelves, answering phones, ordering supplies, making copies, and monitoring security video.

These transitional jobs may be rough sketches, so to speak, but they’re down on paper as possibilities anyway. That shows employees that management will do its best to accommodate them.

RTW-minded managers also consider injured workers for vacant positions.

There’s a designated liaison

A compassionate, organized person who likes working with people acts as a liaison between injured workers, managers, and doctors. Someone who hopes to partner with a doctor is ideal. Third-party administrators (TPAs) can be that solution – there to keep in close contact with all parties and keep the program moving forward.

RTW policies are published and distributed

Company policy clearly defines expectations for both managers and workers. Everyone has a copy.

Workers know how and when to notify the company of injury. Contact numbers are provided.

Employees are familiar with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Where workers’ compensation is concerned, they understand both their rights and their accountability.

Effective RTW programs are fair to everyone.

Evaluation metrics are in place

RTW coordinators track results – bigwigs in corner offices dig that stuff.

Executives or small-business owners comply with municipal, state and federal laws

Compliance is a lot more complicated than most suits or entrepreneurs know. The importance of working with an attorney can’t be overstated.

The High Cost of Complacency

The cost of keeping workers safe and active is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of settlements, high turnover rates and lost productivity.

Employers simply can’t afford to be complacent.

Workers’ Compensation Glossary of Acronyms:

Acronyms. SMH.

Having been a private investigator in the Workers’ Compensation (WC) industry for almost 15 years, IMHO, I come across quite a bit of industry jargon – an alphabet soup of acronyms only trumped by the federal government.

If you’re new to the industry, or need a refresher, here’s a list of acronyms YSK:

AOE/COEArising Out Of Employment/In the Course Of Employment
AWWAverage Weekly Wage
BWCBureau of Workers’ Compensation
DOL/DOI/DOA Date of Loss/Date of Injury/Date of Accident
EEEmployee
EMR/MOD RATE Experience Modification Rate/Experience rate used in determining WC premiums
EOREmployer of Record
FROIFirst Report of Injury
ICIndustrial Commission
IMEIndependent Medical Exam
IWInjured Worker
LDLight Duty
LTLost Time
MCOManaged Care Organization
MDOSModified Duty Onsite
Med OnlyMedical Claim Only, No Lost Work Time
MEDCO 14Ohio’s specific Physician’s Report of Workability
MMIMaximum Medical Improvement
NCMNurse Case Manager
PIPrivate Investigator
PORPhysician of Record
PTPhysical Therapy
PTDPermanent Total Disability
RTWReturn To Work
SISelf Insured
SIUSpecial Investigations Unit
STDShort Term Disability
TPAThird Party Administrator
TTDTemporary Total Disability
Voc/Voc RehabVocation Rehabilitation (training to do another job)
WCWorkers’ Compensation

Red Flags – The Ultimate List for Workers’ Compensation Claims Fraud

A new workers’ compensation claim hits your inbox, littered with red flags. But your spidey- sense kicks in. Why?

Well, several warning signs pop up; the claimant was injured on a Friday before a holiday weekend, they’ve already booked appointments with a chiropractor, and nobody witnessed the injury.

You ask yourself, “Is it fraud?!?”

Though not every claim you see is fraudulent, this one appears to be. But, what now?

You know that proving fraud could save your client tons of money in insurance premiums.

What if you had a comprehensive list of red flags to check against your suspicions? A list that was compiled by a fraud investigator with the help of claims professionals like you?…

..well, we did it.

We asked a dozen claims adjusters, examiners, insurance professionals, attorneys, and others for their workers’ compensation claim advice and compiled the results into a comprehensive list.

Here is the list of red flags (67 total) they provided:

The Timeliness of the Injury Report

  1. The injury occurred immediately before a holiday or a long weekend (many “injuries” occur on Fridays). – The most common red flag is the injury without a timely report of injury – Lisa Fike, Staff Attorney
  2. The claimant was injured after a holiday or a long weekend (this repeatedly occurs if the claimant is ineligible for holiday or paid-time-off).
  3. The claim was filed prior to a planned vacation allowing the claimant to collect disability during their trips.
  4. The claimant reports the accident days, weeks, months, or years after it occurred.
  5. The claim is filed after the claimant becomes aware of their imminent termination.
  6. The claimant is injured shortly after initial hiring (this is especially true after the initial probationary period for full-time hires).
  7. The claimant recently purchased personal disability insurance (a.k.a. gap coverage).
  8. The claimant hires an attorney immediately after filing a claim.
  9. The claimant instantly asks for a settlement.– Amy Rodallega, Claims Representative, Nationwide Insurance

The Accident

  1. There were no witnesses to the accident.
  2. The accident occurred on the employer’s premises but out of view of security cameras.
  3. The claimant was helping another employee despite being asked not to do so (not their department or job duties) by management.
  4. The claimant’s version of the accident is inconsistent – there are multiple variations of the story.

The Injury

  1. The claimant experiences a psychological injury, which is hard to substantiate.
  2. The claimant experiences a back injury, which is hard to substantiate.
  3. The claimant engages in physical activities inconsistent with the limitations they claim to have due to their injury.
  4. The claimant has a pre-existing injury.
  5. A hospital canvass determines that the claimant has been treated elsewhere for the same condition and/or an Insurance Service Office (ISO) check reveals that the claimant had prior injuries to the same body part. – Lori Terry, Claims Examiner, Careworks Consultants Inc.
  6. The claimant has a history of subjective injuries, psychological, mental pain, undisclosed pain, or general pain.
  7. The claimant seeks to open or start a new claim based on a flow-through injury (an injury developing in a body part not originally alleged) or from the result of an old injury. – Jean McEntarfer, Human Resources Manager, Teleperformance USA

Communication

  1. The claimant is never available to answer calls.
  2. The claimant has limited availability for exams and/or appointments.
  3. The claimant has a preference for receiving emails from claim representatives rather than phone calls.
  4. The claimant’s voicemail box is always full.
  5. The claimant screens or avoids calls.
  6. The claimant frequently changes appointments or does not show for appointments to avoid field case manager or nurse case manager. – Debbie Lantman, Manager – Workers’ Compensation, Formica Corporation

Circumstances Around the Job

  1. The claimant files a claim for job security – the claimant knows the employer will not terminate the claimant while on disability.
  2. The claimant performs seasonal work that will end soon.
  3. The claimant is approaching retirement and files a claim.
  4. The claimant has absenteeism problems.– “They ‘earn and burn’ their time by attempting to get off work when they’re out of PTO or off-days.” – Brenda Scalf, Client Services Manager, Sheakley
  5. The claimant has frequently used the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  6. The injury occurred as a result of the claimant’s side job.
  7. The claimant has a personal vendetta against management or fellow employees.
  8. The claim occurred just prior to or after a strike.
  9. The claimant shows up in pictures or in person with indications of having worked another job:
    • they have calluses on their hands, or
    • grease under their fingers.

The Physician

  1. The physician of record (POR) does not mention checking the state pharmacy website for the claimant’s narcotic prescriptions.
  2. In states where it’s permissible to do so, the claimant refuses to seek medical treatment or physical therapy.
  3. Multiple workers’ compensation claimants seek out the same physician. -“It’s suspicious when employees of the same organization magically go to the same doctor when they are injured.” – Kelly Flynn Reimer, Claims Manager
  4. The claimant refuses to go to vocational rehabilitation.
  5. The claimant refuses to go to an independent medical exam (IME).
  6. The subject explores “doctor shopping,” where they seek out physicians who substantiate their injury claims. –I would say that anyone who gets released from the physician, or is told they can’t have any more narcotics/meds, who then immediately starts ‘doctor shopping’ is a big red flag.” – Jill Thomas, Director of Claims, V&A Risk Services, LLC
  7. The claimant seeks narcotics and once their prescription runs out, they shop for another doctor who will fill that prescription.
  8. After a doctor’s appointment, the claimant cannot describe the types of medical services that were performed on him or her.
  9. The claimant has a doctor that is a great distance from their residence for no reason at all.
  10. The claimant tells the doctor what kind of treatment they need.
  11. The claimant tells the doctor their employer has no light-duty work.
  12. The claimant immediately seeks treatment with a doctor or chiropractor that is known to automatically take patients off work. “Some doctors are on the suspicious provider list if claimants go to them for initial treatment. Suspicions increase when employees of the same organization frequent the same physicians” – Anonymous Claims Professional
  13. The claimant sells their prescriptions to others or seeks out various medical providers to obtain multiple prescriptions.
  14. The injured worker immediately schedules a meeting with a chiropractor. -“Even if I’m not familiar with that chiropractor, that’s always a red flag to me because it means the injured worker (IW) is familiar with chiropractors” – Jackie Spring, Self-Insured Manager, Alternative Risk Management

Character-Related Suspicions

  1. Social media pictures and profile information indicate that the claimant is active and moving normally against their restrictions. – Lisa Ball, SIU, Allstate Insurance
  2. The claimant has a history of filing Worker’s Compensation claims in the past.– “I have seen people do this because most employers will not get rid of someone that has filed a workers’ comp claim.” – Debra Goetz, Spooner Inc.
  3. Employees that are friends or associates with the claimant observe the claimant conducting activities that are in contradiction to their limitations.
  4. The injury occurred during a side sporting activity.
  5. The claimant is a nomad; they live in multiple places, and/or drive around from job to job.
  6. The claimant uses a PO Box as their mailing address, rather than an actual address, and/or refuses to provide a physical address.
  7. The claimant lives in an economically depressed area.
  8. The claimant has a history of bad credit, monetary problems, or is always in debt.
  9. Several of the claimant’s relatives and friends have similar Worker’s Compensation claims. This is what some investigators call ‘fraud school,’ where fraud/abuse methods are passed from relative to relative. 
  10. When taking a claimant’s statement, the claimant feels inclined to provide information on their personal character. For example, “I’m a good person, and I am not looking to scam the system or get something I don’t deserve.’ I can tell you that 9 times out of 10 when someone makes a comment like that to me they end up trying to scam the system!” – Adriane R. Thompson, SCLA, Senior Resolution Manager, Gallagher Bassett
  11. Claims representatives suspect the claimant’s character or personality traits determine the claimant is engaged in workers’ compensation fraud or abuse (The claimant’s demeanor is very calm or savvy).

Other Red Flags

  1. The claimant does not have medical insurance.
  2. The claimant opts out of employer-provided health insurance and soon after files a workers’ compensation claim.
  3. The claimant has a high-deductible insurance meaning they’ll pay a lot in out of pocket expenses.
  4. The employee will file a claim before going out for a non-industrial health reason (i.e. major surgery) & their PTO time won’t cover the entire period of time they’re off.
  5. Employees who plan to visit their out-of-the-country/town family members for extended periods of time will file a temporary total disability (TTD) claim, allowing them to collect a Workers’ Compensation check if their doctor writes them off on a Physician’s Report of Work Ability. “For example, someone from a foreign country who is planning to visit their family for 1-2 months will file a claim the week just before they leave thinking they will be paid TTD the entire time they are gone.” – Holly Miller, The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association
  6. The claimant has shown an overall pattern of behavior that indicates fraud.
  7. The claimant had a recent auto accident or has had multiple auto accidents where they were injured.

What now?

When that next claim with red flags hits your inbox, do your clients a favor – check it against the list above. If it saves them money, they’ll be happy you did.

Did we leave out any red flags? Let us know in the comments below or email Gravitas Investigations at adam@gravitasinv.com with your suggestion.

If you’d like to discuss a plan to combat fraud, Call Us Now to speak directly with an investigator.

“Who Do You Work For?!” The 7 Types of Clients That Hire Private Investigators

Have you ever been asked what you do for a living? When people ask me, I tell them I’m a private investigator (PI).

Kind of interesting, right? You don’t get the opportunity to meet private investigators every day, let alone talk to them about what they do.

Inevitably, the next question asked is:

“Who hires you?”

Aside from “educational” shows about private investigators (like Cheaters), I’m surprised at the lack of information available. One look at web search results and it seems all we PIs do are infidelity or domestic cases.  Case in point:

Who-Hires-a-Private-Investigators

There are a lot of false assumptions about the identity of both private investigators and our clients. We all don’t look like this guy:

Private-Eye-in-a-Trenchcoat

Private eyes: Ready to burn ants at a moment’s notice

In truth, private investigators offer a mix of services that are useful to a wide array of customers.

The 10 Most Common Specialties of Private Investigators

The 10 Most Common Specialties of Private Investigators

 

Here are 7 types of people that commonly use our services:

Human Resource (HR) Professionals

As an HR pro, you strive to bring in quality employees to fill open positions in your company. But how can you be sure new employees will be a great fit?

I’m glad you asked.

By hiring a private investigator to conduct a background check.

Running a background check before you hire an employee (a pre-employment screening) helps to develop and evaluate a candidate’s profile.

A good screening will help you answer several questions, such as:

  • Does the candidate have a criminal record? Avoiding workplace violence is crucial and is one of the first items a pre-employment screen uncovers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 4,679 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2014, 403 (9%) were workplace homicides.[1] (You’ll also want to make sure your investigator is compliant with pre-employment regulations and laws – see Ban the Box for more info.)
  • Do their resumes check out? PIs screen candidates to make sure all the details of a resume are true. Lying on a resume is illegal in some states, not to mention it’s ethically wrong and can lead to serious harm to a company’s reputation if it becomes public.
  • Did they attend the college(s) they claim they did? The number one lie on resumes comes in the form of “education padding,” where applicants embellish or fudge their education information. PIs can track down college records, years attended, and degrees that a candidate received.
  • Are their past employment records accurate? PIs specialize in tracking down past employers. Many times, PIs can uncover false employment claims or omission of previous employment on a resume.
  • Is he/she a sex offender? Sexual harassment costs companies bundles of money. In 2011, over $52 million was doled out to victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.[2] That number doesn’t even count the number of women (and men) who don’t report the act altogether, which could be as high as 1 in 3.[3] PIs can access nationwide data on sexual offenders so you can avoid this problem altogether.

Safety Professionals

Preventing workplace injuries is an integral part of the job description for occupational, environmental, and industrial safety professionals.

The ability to administer the workers’ compensation program is lumped into many of those job descriptions. On top of that, it’s beneficial to a safety manager to be informed about how to save the company money. One way to do this is by eliminating fraudulent claims.

How do you work towards eliminating fraud?

You guessed it: hire a private investigator.

Private investigators can conduct surveillance on fraudulent workers’ compensation claimants. Obtaining compromising video, along with a detailed report of a fraudulent claimant’s activities, can magically make claims go away. Safety professionals that partner with a competent and well-versed surveillance expert can help deliver this result.

Insurance Claims Adjusters

Unfortunately, insurance fraud is a booming business in today’s world. Automobile accidents, arson, and healthcare fraud total approximately $40 – $80 billion annually, [4] costing the average U.S. family anywhere from $400-$700 per year.[5]

To defeat insurance fraud, insurance companies hire private investigators. PIs can perform automobile accident reconstructions, interview claimants and witnesses, and gather law enforcement records to determine who is at fault and who might be cheating the system.

The end result equals money saved and risk avoided.

Lawyer /Attorney

Lawyers are another type of private investigator client.

Private investigators can help lawyers dig into opposing parties’ backgrounds, interview potential witnesses, and aid in the litigation process.

Also, private investigators serve subpoenas and specialize in tracking down witnesses and plaintiffs who may not want to be found. Hiring a PI to do the legwork is a cost that’s worth the investment.

Caregiver or Homemaker

What if you need a babysitter to watch your child, but the next-door neighbor isn’t available?

nanny-background-check

You deserve a trustworthy nanny

Conducting a background check on a nanny, babysitter, or caregiver gives you peace of mind.

You’ll want to know if the person looking after your son or daughter is responsible enough to babysit your child. Private investigators can locate past and current criminal records, sexual offenses, and verify your babysitter’s identity.

Business Owners

Business owners want to make sure their business interests are protected. They also want to determine if they’re getting into business with the right partners.

Hiring a private investigator to conduct a business background check on a client’s business partner, a.k.a a due diligence search helps to evaluate the quality of a business partnership.

You’ll want to know what kind of credit both the candidate and the business have, a list of their business assets, the business representative, any negative media associated with the business, and any other past issues.

Businesses also use private investigators to conduct security and integrity audits.

For example, a PI can do anything from investigating the security of a building or inspecting the quality of service at a restaurant. Private investigators can follow salespeople to learn if they’re regularly attending their sales meetings, stake out bars and clubs to make sure the staff isn’t stealing from the register, and attempt to (legally) “break into” data storage companies to test their safeguards.

Landlord (Property Owner)

Renting your property to bad tenants is a problem. Hiring an investigator helps mitigate the risk of renting to untrustworthy renters.

That’s your property that you’re allowing someone else to live in, so you have a vested interest in making sure it’s not torn to pieces once the lease expires. Vetting your tenants upfront can help to ensure you collect your rent check every month and alleviate property damage concerns.

Private investigators can help by conducting a background check on your potential tenant to find criminal records, prior evictions, civil suits, and bad credit. Searches like this will paint a picture of your potential tenant on the front end. From there, you can make the decision to rent to them or hold off and wait for a better candidate to come along.

What Other Ways Can Private Investigators Serve You? 

Leave a message in the comments below.


References:

[1] “What you should know about workplace violence – CNN.com.” 2014. 12 Jan. 2016 <http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/27/us/workplace-violence-questions-answers/>

[2] “Sexual harassment charge statistics – EEOC.” 2009. 13 Jan. 2016 <http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/sexual_harassment.cfm>

[3] “1 In 3 Women Has Been Sexually Harassed At Work …” 2015. 13 Jan. 2016 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/19/1-in-3-women-sexually-harassed-work-cosmopolitan_n_6713814.html>

[4] “Fraud statistics – Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.” 2012. 13 Jan. 2016 <http://www.insurancefraud.org/statistics.htm>

[5] “FBI — Insurance Fraud.” 2015. 13 Jan. 2016 <https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/insurance-fraud>

How Working Out Helped Me Bust a Fraudulent Workers’ Comp Powerlifter

“You wouldn’t mind if I… you know… videotaped us working out, would you?” I said to Lifter Guy, a man I suspected of fraud. “Just to look at my form and stuff?”

“No problem. You gonna put it on YouTube or something?” Lifter Guy responded.

“Yeah,” I smirked, “something like that.”

Little did Lifter Guy know that I was a Private Investigator (P.I.) working undercover to videotape him powerlifting while defrauding the workers’ compensation system.

Read more