The job of a fraud investigator falls under the category of private detectives and investigators as the job requires using skills that are associated with these fields. But the fraud investigator job description covers a lot of different types of careers that involve the investigation and apprehension of criminals and their activities. A fraud investigator can find work in the finance industry, the post office, insurance companies, government agencies, law enforcement, criminal justice, and just about anywhere there’s a need for someone to uncover fraudulent activities.
What Does a Fraud Investigator Do?
The basic fraud investigator job description is that of someone who is trained in the identification and investigation of fraudulent activities for a public or private employer. The fraud investigator will spot suspicious activity, or verify that someone has spotted activity that is out of the norm. They may also engage in visual surveillance to determine if an individual is engaging in fraudulent activity. Once the fraud investigator has determined that an individual or a group is acting suspiciously, they start an investigation and look for evidence that fraud is taking place. An investigation requires working closely with others in the organization in order to catch people in the act of theft. The job description for a fraud investigator may include:
- Searching for evidence of fraud through surveillance or other techniques
- Analyzing evidence
- Identifying suspects
- Interviewing suspects and witnesses
- Creating reports
- Testifying in court on behalf of an employer
Once the thieves are identified, the fraud investigator informs management and may also inform the authorities about arresting and prosecuting the thieves. The employee may decide to not bring charges, ask for charges to be brought, or go after the thieves in civil court. In the event there is a criminal procedure or a civil lawsuit, the fraud investigator will most likely be called to testify on the stand on behalf of the employer.
Is Fraud Investigator a Good Career?
Becoming a fraud investigator is a good career if you have an eye for detail, can catch anomalies that suggest fraudulent activity, and have a desire to see justice done. The role is similar to that of a detective working for a law enforcement agency but doesn’t require a college degree or going through an academy. You have to be comfortable with switching from spending time going through records for evidence to interviewing suspects and preparing reports. If you find that the work of a fraud investigator is appealing, then it can be a good career for you.
The fraud investigator career path itself doesn’t have much in the way of upward career movement. There are senior fraud investigator roles, but in general, the career ladder for a fraud investigator is a short one. However, you can make the decision to return to school and earn an accounting degree to work as a forensic auditor, work in risk management and compliance departments, or shift from private employment to the public sector and work at a federal, state, or local agency in pursuit of fraud. Information security is another fraud investigator career path for someone who enjoys working with technology and wants to combine their passion for computers with their aptitude for seeking out criminals.
How Much Does a Fraud Investigator Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for private detectives and investigators was $53,320 in 2020. This category covers people who are trained to find information about personal matters and financial and legal issues. A fraud investigator works in areas that mostly involve financial fraud, but can find employment anywhere someone is needed to root out theft, and some employers pay much more than the median in order to have an employee that can help them prevent losses. The BLS predicts that the need for fraud investigators will increase by 13% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average job growth for this period.
Other issues that affect the average salary for a fraud investigator include the lack of educational requirements and demand. Becoming a fraud investigator doesn’t require earning a degree. Instead, you can get hired by an agency with a high school diploma or GED, and engage in training on the job. Earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will help you earn more money and enable you to combine your work experience with your degree and sit for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner’s certification test.
Demand for fraud investigators can also improve the average salary, but getting a degree can help you with your marketability and expand your career options. Earning a degree also helps you weather changes that can negatively affect the demand for fraud investigators by enabling you to move onto related career paths.
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