Fraud investigation requires analytical, logical and social skills in order to analyze legal, financial and personal information while providing a variety of services, including tracing missing persons, detecting financial fraud, verifying backgrounds and other information, and investigating crimes of legal, financial and personal matters. When employed by federal or state forces, investigators may be required to make arrests, perform undercover operations or surveillance, or provide information, documentation, evidence, training or support to federal or state agencies.
While some investigators spend most of their working hours in the field conducting interviews, performing surveillance, and providing damage control, many investigators also spend much of their working time behind computers recording information and providing correspondence between employees and employers. It should be noted that fraud investigators often work irregular hours, including early mornings, late nights, and holidays.
While schooling is not always a requirement, some desirable skills and knowledge do apply. The ability to think and act quickly in emergencies; organize, develop and carry out investigations safely and quickly; prepare and organize concise and organized documentation and evidence; and follow written and oral instruction are helpful skills. Knowledge of federal, state and local laws is useful, as well as knowledge of legal rights and effective interview techniques.
Fraud investigator supervisors should have managerial skills including the ability to manage employees, determine the best methods for conducting investigations, and the ability to receive and manage written and oral instruction.
In most of the United States, a license is required for personal detectives and investigators. When applying for a private investigator’s license, interested parties should be aware that the requirements for licenses vary by state. Most license applications include a history or background check, a written exam, a licensing fee, and occasionally previous experience in the field or a degree in political science, justice or criminal law. An age restriction of eighteen years is common in most states when applying for a private investigator’s permit.
Applicators are encouraged to apply for a firearm permit, as concealed or non-concealed firearms are not legal without a permit. Tear gas permits are also available in most states, and applicators are encouraged to apply for such permits when considering tear gas as an option. Most private investigator licenses also require the investigator and her or his employees to have insurance, especially when carrying firearms or other weaponry, in case of bodily injury or damage to property.
In May 2010, the average pay of private detectives and investigators was $42,810. The lowest ten percent of investigators earned $74,970 while the lowest ten percent earned $25,760. Demand for private investigators is expected to rise in coming years; cyber crimes such as identity theft, financial scams and insurance fraud have grown in recent years with technological advances, causing an increased need to fraud investigation.