Tech Tips: Using Social Media in Investigative Services

June 1, 2016

Social media networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have large amounts of information that are publicly accessible and fair game for a private investigator.

Facebook alone has over one billions users. Twitter boasts more than 600 million users. LinkedIn weighs in at 300 million users. Chances are high that your subject has a social media fingerprint, of sorts; therefore, social media networks can be a powerful tool used in a wide-range of investigations.

Most of the time, private investigators achieve success by conducting old-fashioned PI work such as knocking on doors, canvassing locations, conducting field surveillance, and interviews. However, it is critical for private investigators to be educated in the use of social media, and you want to hire a PI firm that makes social media monitoring a regular part of it’s service offering.

“That’s exactly why we provide clients with social media surveillance services at QIGPI,” says Corey Savant. “We know it’s one of many tools at our disposal. Often times, its the fastest track to finding current photos and gaining immediate access to information about a claimant — with little delay.”

Corey says, “social media is something we do throughout our investigations, and we offer a service to continue monitoring on our client’s behalf.”

So, … how critical is it for a private investigator to be educated on the use of social media? According to an article in the Washington Post called “How Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have changed Private Investigation,” a private investigator was asked to conduct research on prospective jurors in a case against a well-known university. His assignment was to establish if any potential jurors had strong ties to the schools, especially if they were donors connected to a sports team. The investigator was able to complete the assignment by conducting detailed research on social media and learned that one potential juror was, in fact, a major contributor to the university’s football team, which was a critical piece of information to the client involved in the case.

Social Media is Here to Stay

Not only is social media here to stay, the role it plays in our lives will continue to expand and evolve. A private investigation firm needs to be up to date on all of the latest social media changes and trends, both from a client prospective and as an investigation tool.

QIGPI is dedicated to conducting social media investigations. Our social media team has many years of experience and is always embracing new social media channels. Whether you utilize the services of QIGPI or another private investigation company, make sure that social media is an integral part of the investigative process.

For instance, … if the profile you’re searching for is publicly accessible on the Internet, then this is where you are likely to find the most current information on the target of your investigation. Here you will have access to photos, conversations and profile information.

“Going to social media in the earliest phase of an investigation is critical,” says Savant. “Checking social accounts is one of the first things insurance companies and adjusters will want us to do when targeting a claimant. It saves time in the long run, it yields results, and it informs decisions about how we proceed with field surveillance.”

There are numerous types of cases where social media can be used as an important tool for investigations and can be used to support criminal and civil cases. How can it be used?

To uncover insurance fraud, start with social media

Private investigators use social networking sites, like Facebook, as evidence of a false claim made to insurance companies.

They are looking at the claimant’s comments and photos to search for potential incongruities with statements made to the insurance company.

Perhaps the claimant has reported having an injury that prevents them from doing strenuous activities, yet they have posted photos of a a charter fishing trip they recently took.

Claimants may also be receiving disability payments due to a reported inability to work; however, the claimant may be regularly checking in at an undeclared job or tweeting about different work projects on Twitter. Canvassing through various social networks is a valuable technique.

Background Checks & Social Media Profiles

A private investigator can be hired to conduct background checks as part of an employer’s pre-screening process. They can be hiring for litigation purposes to attack a witness’s credibility or to refute the testimony they provided. A PI can also be hired as part of due diligence when determining whether to purchase a business.

Some additional reasons that private investigators use social media include investigating company policy violations, identity fraud and theft, stalking and harassment and identify verification. Social media also proves to be a worthwhile source of recent photos and behavioral characteristics.

When hiring a private investigator make sure they have extensive experience using social media as a research tool since being able to effectively use social networking sites is a skill that is developed over time.

QIGPI employs a team of licensed and experienced private investigators — and social media research is just one of the many tools we deploy to help you support your case. Ask us about social media surveillance and monitoring the next time you assign a case to QIGPI.

Often times, investigators uncover information that is especially damaging to the claimant. While new technology — especially social media — can help immensely when it comes to aiding claims investigations, investigators have to be careful. Tools are only as powerful as the skill and knowledge of the person using them. Don’t trust your social media surveillance to a firm without the experience.

Call QIGPI if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to tell you what we can do with social media, and how it will prove a benefit to you.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Marketing & Content Services Provided by: FIVE65 Design, New Orleans, LA