Individuals continue to post more and more about their lives on a host of social media platforms. Instagram is overtaking Facebook as one of the most popular places to post photos and videos. Twitter also continues to be a favourite tool.
Posting all aspects of our daily lives makes us feel part of a global community. What does this mean for disability claim managers and those in the human resources profession? They have an unprecedented look into an individual’s public life.
How many times have you seen a doctor’s note that states that the individual is totally disabled, or unfit for modified duties, sitting or standing for longer periods, etc.? In the past, you would have to conduct a costly surveillance to determine the individual’s level of activity. Today, you may be a few clicks away from validating your concerns.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Do you realize how much data a photo reveals? Often we can obtain the exact location, date of the photo and when it was uploaded. All this information can become a part of your investigation. We had a case where an individual requested time away from work, and it was denied. The employee subsequently submitted a WSIB’s claim and got the requested time. The employee then posted photos on social media. Our investigators extracted data that placed the subject in Romania.
If the Internet is an iceberg, social media is only the tip. What lies below the surface is massive. A skilled investigator can easily harvest open source data. We recently had a case where a female employee was a part-time yoga instructor, outside of work. At the time of her claim, she turned on her privacy settings to avoid detection. Her only mistake was being showcased in a Yoga studio newsletter that was harvested using search techniques. Despite increased privacy settings, many apps disregard it and provide data the subject thought was hidden.
Can you do these types of investigations yourself? The short answer is yes. However without the necessary skills, you often won’t find what you need. It is also recommended that an independent third party gathers the information and later testify and present the evidence. The data is harvested in an ethical way to ensure privacy has not been violated and formulated into a structured admissible report.
An open source investigation is non-intrusive without any risk of being exposed. Using proxy servers allows investigators to collect data undetected without leaving any digital footprints.
If you have a claim that is under suspicion, maybe it’s time to have a peek.