If you enjoy solving problems, have a good eye for detail and use logical thinking, you might consider a career as a fraud investigator. According to the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System (CIFAS), the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, overall fraud is on the increase. Opportunities to train as an investigator are available in a variety of sectors including insurance, benefits and private law firms.
The investigative skills needed to become a fraud investigator vary depending on the industry in which you operate, according to Argent Associates. In general, you need to be able to work well with other people, have an eye for detail and have good communication skills. Most fraud investigation departments use detection software, so proficiency in computer usage is essential although as a trainee you will be taught how to use anything essential to the role.
In the UK, fraud investigators typically work in the finance industry. The insurance sector employs a high number of investigators to detect fraudulent claims arising from car, home, pet and life insurance policies. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) takes benefit theft very seriously. They work alongside other government departments to cut down welfare fraud, tax evasion and organised crime. The National Health Service (NHS) fraud team work to reduce false prescription charge claims and price-fixing by drug companies. The retail industry employs fraud investigators to carry out activities, such as identifying the use of credit or debit cards lost or stolen and suspicious refunds.
Role and responsibilities
Trainee fraud investigators typically assist senior colleagues and learn on-the-job. They help the team conducting investigations to detect and reduce fraudulent activity. While starting out as a trainee, understand that although you may find the job exciting, you must follow a strict code of confidentiality. After passing the probationary period, some companies may offer trainees the chance to gain the Professionalism in Security qualification (PINS), which requires good administration skills.
Although trainee roles vary according to sector, typical duties are predominantly administration-based. These may include logging enquiries relating to alleged or suspected fraud, assisting with the production of management data and researching cases. A trainee may accompany a senior investigator on field visits to homes or businesses and be required to take accurate notes. If a case goes to court, a trainee may be asked to provide a witness statement.
After training, a fraud investigator can choose to work in a specialist area. Retail investigators can develop a career in security or loss prevention in a store or warehouse environment. Internal and external fraud analyst positions are available within companies and for those wishing to conduct more field detective work; a private investigator could be an attractive option.