The inundation of phone calls from scammers, phishers, or “bots” as we’ve come to know them is a regular part of life for those with cell phones. For many of us, it’s simply a matter of blocking the call or taking some additional measures to mitigate the deluge. However, for more vulnerable members of our families, like minor children, the elderly, or the infirm, these calls can represent a credible threat. We’re here to pass along some tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how we can protect our families from these phone scams.
In 2019, it was estimated that a total of $10.5 billion dollars were lost to phone scammer calls. Such a figure in itself is enough to make your head spin when you consider how much good that sort of money could do. Phone scammers have used a myriad of schemes and disguises in order to defraud citizens and corporations alike out of their hard-earned money. Phone scammers may masquerade as a major company with whom you likely have an account, like Amazon, or be fronting as someone working with a nonprofit. However, the 2020 pandemic was the gasoline that caused that figure to almost double—with a total of $19.7 billion dollars lost to phone scams in 2020. The element of the pandemic allowed phone scammers to capitalize on victims’ fear of dangers associated with the coronavirus. Now, even as pandemic restrictions relax, multiple reports are projecting that anywhere between $29.8 and $53.4 billion in total losses. Here are ways the FTC has recommended to curb these phone scams:
Most cell phones, landlines, and internet phone services now come equipped either with call-blocking capabilities, or have apps available that help users reduce the amount of phone scams their number receives. Call-screening is also recommended when a user does not recognize the phone number, as picking up the phone for a phone scammer may be just enough to alert the scammer that this is an active number and a viable target is waiting on the other end.
National Do Not Call Registry:
For some families, the National Do Not Call Registry is a viable option to prevent their loved ones from receiving calls from legitimate companies. However, this option does inherently protect the user from phone scammer calls. In the same vein, do not press any buttons if you happen to pick up a robo call or phone scam call, because that could lead to more phone calls.
Talk About It
Talk to your loved ones about the dangers of robo calls or phone scams. Impart on them the importance of being vigilant and suspicious of unsolicited phone calls. Ensure that before they hand over any personal and/or financial information to double check the source of the call with a trusted family member or loved one.
Most importantly, family and caretakers must know when it is time to take action and report identity theft. If you find out a person who has been in your care has been the victim of a phone scam, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report the scam and find out the next steps.
What is the dark side of private investigations? Private citizens usually take what they know about private investigators from movies and television. Private investigators are typically cast in a seedy light with PIs following characters to take pictures of their movements and use that evidence against them in some way. The media tends to write high-stakes narratives about dogged private investigators who only want to get to the truth at all costs. The reality is that most of private investigations are not exciting enough for movies and television. However, there is a dark side to private investigations that the general public may not always hear about.
The #1 fear of any private investigator is obviously getting caught, or becoming “compromised.” This is when the subject of the investigation has become aware of the private investigator’s efforts, and their level of awareness becomes heightened. The subject becomes paranoid and now behaves as if his every move is being watched by the private investigator. This deeply complicates the investigation and makes it harder for the private investigator to get to the truth. The dark side of private investigations comes in when a private investigator is compromised in a dangerous situation. Over the years, many private investigators have come forward with stories about being assaulted on the job and otherwise harassed by subjects of their investigations. Repeated instances of getting caught could also result in negative public relations and bad word of mouth from clients and families.
Private investigators may deal with the dark side of private investigations when it comes time to deliver the solution to the investigation. At the conclusion of an investigation, when all leads have been exhausted, private investigators typically prepare a full report of their findings to the client. Private investigators can run into heightened emotions when they inform the client that there is nothing more to be done. In cases of infidelity, private investigators often meet resistance in cases where no infidelity was detected from the subject. Clients insist that their spouse must be cheating and the investigator must have missed something because of their gut instincts or other suspicions. In the worst-case scenario, private investigators can run afoul of volatile clients who—for one reason or another—are dissatisfied with their investigation. Private investigators can find themselves in physical danger or subject to various forms of harassment on behalf of the client, both online and in real life. Private investigators have been known to have their Google reviews or testimonials flooded with baseless accusations of fraud and incompetence that can devastate their business.
In many cases, whether as the subject of an investigation or otherwise, private investigations involve dealing with the criminal element. Some private investigators incur risk to themselves by conducting field investigations populated with violent felons, or going another step further to insert themselves into the criminal element as part of an undercover operation. Regardless of the investigation type, private investigators come into contact with the criminal element every day, and must have diverse experience and a comprehensive tool chest to remain undetected in the environment. For instance, let’s say a private investigator has been contracted by a family who has lost their daughter to sex trafficking. In a field investigation, there will be surveillance required to find out where the subject may be living and document any risk factors that might impact a rescue effort. If a private investigator is compromised at this stage of the investigation, they could be seriously injured by a member of the sex trafficking ring who does not want their operation discovered.
With the exception of corporate investigations, the dark side of private investigations is also enveloped in the impact the intelligence in question has on the client. Private investigators are often a last resort for many clients in cases where law enforcement was unable or unwilling to help. Despite their personalized attention and objective methodology, private investigators still may not be able to deliver answers in a particular case. Cases that deeply impact the client are typically missing person cases. These are clients who are out of options and desperate for answers in the disappearance of their missing loved one. When all leads have been exhausted, it’s never an easy conversation to have with the family of a missing person. When it comes to private investigations, the intelligence that is being sought will ultimately affect the client’s life. It is a tall order, and a big responsibility, to get the client the information they need for clarification in their personal or corporate lives.
If you need a private investigator, consider Lauth Investigations International. We have been serving clients and corporations with our private investigation services for over 30 years. We are staffed by former military and law enforcement and carry a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call Lauth today for a free quote on our investigative services at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com.
Corporations that have seen a decline in their corporate culture are turning to internal investigation and risk assessment firms for help in 2020. The discourse around corporate culture has evolved significantly over the last few years, with employees voicing their desire for work-life balance and how corporate culture directly impacts their decision to stay with a company. Leadership is better-educating themselves on how their actions feed into the cycle of corporate culture, and how they can improve employee retention by making meaningful changes that grease the wheels of success in their business or organization. However, many corporations have their anxieties about conducting internal investigations in a fishbowl—where employees are able to see the methodology in motion—and how this will impact their workforce and their business.
Corporations can find themselves open to scrutiny from both
their employees and their customer-base when they announce an impending
internal investigation. Some corporations, for a myriad of reasons, opt to have
internal investigations under a cloak of classification in order to protect the
integrity of the investigation—however, in the interest of transparency, many
corporations opt for a visible investigation, warning employees, shareholders,
customers, or all of the above, of an impending internal investigation. This
means that the investigating bodies will be under a microscope of scrutiny
within the corporation, as their methodology, decorum, and their practices will
a source of debate around the proverbial watercooler.
Regardless of who is contracted to conduct the internal
investigation, or under what level of declassification, if there is visibility
of an investigation, there is a delicate balance of transparency and
professionalism needed in pursuit of the truth. One of the most difficult tasks
an internal investigator has at the inception of the investigation is
establishing a rapport with relevant parties, such as leadership and the
workforce in order to garner frankness from persons who will be crucial to the
Investigators must establish credibility with the client and
relevant subjects in the case. This means ensuring those individuals are aware
that the investigator shares their values and is only interested in identifying
problems to improve the business—not damage it—indicating a high level of
accountability that will have a ripple effect throughout the corporation or
In tandem with establishing credibility, investigators must
be straightforward about their objectives, outlining what the client hopes to
achieve and their proposed methods of reaching that goal. Investigators must
never make promises they cannot keep by making declarations before they know
the facts. Corporate investigators must always pursue a resolution to a
business’s problem that does not impair their long-term goals—by the same
token, it is imperative that the investigator informs the client that there
might be some negative consequences as the result of their findings, such as
turnover, further inquiries, or bad publicity.
Objectivity is key in any internal investigation. It’s one of the reasons some companies elect to have a private investigator or risk assessment firm conduct their investigation, as opposed to an in-house investigator or member of house counsel. No employee with a stake in the outcome of the investigation, even indirectly, may be 100% objective in identifying pervasive issues in an organization. In addition to that objectivity, an independent investigator—unknown to the corporation or organization—investigators can move through a workplace undetected. This will take the edge off of the “fishbowl” factor that is common with internal corporate investigations. Private investigators can adopt a persona and conduct their investigations without the eyes of concerned coworkers; interviewing employees, collecting evidence, evaluating the location, and reviewing internal communications can all be conducted in plain sight.
Internal corporate investigations with a “fishbowl” factor can be an inherent challenge for corporations. Above all, it’s important to remember that employees are your greatest asset, as they feed into a cycle of corporate culture that can successfully stimulate your business or organization. An appropriate level of trust and care must always be taken when subjecting your workforce to an internal investigation. When employees feel valued, they will become empowered and engaged to give their best to the benefit of your organization.
When corporations make the investment to evaluate their corporate culture, it’s important that they choose a vendor who offers a comprehensive audit program. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saw an overall increase of 13.6% of sexual harassment filings in 2018. That’s not counting other filings for discrimination based on age, race, and sexual orientation. This has placed corporations on high alert as the nation’s capitalist climate gears up for change in their workplaces. This means that when leadership opts for a corporate culture audit, it’s important that their money is well-spent, and one of the best moves to make is hiring private investigators to handle the audit.
Many corporate culture audits are performed by independent risk assessment firms, which is to be expected. Risk assessment firms specialize in identifying the weak points in a business from their workforce background to their brick and mortar security. However, if leadership is going to invest in improving their corporate culture, it’s important that they pick a program that offers comprehensive services. While risk assessment firms might employ highly capable auditors capable of identifying security oversight or performing background checks, every business is different, and it’s important that the program selected fit every business true-to-form. That’s where a private investigator can be an invaluable asset.
Private investigators as a profession have a lurid
reputation for following philandering spouses and people suspected of worker’s
compensation fraud. The same tool chest that allows them to perform those
services is the same one that makes them ideal candidates to perform corporate
culture audits. Private investigators have an eye for detail, diligent drive,
and a meticulous ability to evaluate and make recommendations based on what
they’ve observed. These are the types of professionals you want when it comes
to assessing the culture of your business or organization.
Independent risk assessment firms are just as excellent in
identifying the risk factors that put a business or organization at risk, such
as vulnerabilities in their securities, faulty hiring processes, and at-risk
employees based on their history—but what about the human element within a
corporate culture audit? Corporate culture audits are so much more than
comparing documents and surveying brick-and-mortar locations. It’s also about
understanding how current employees function in a workplace ecosystem. Private
investigators, with a wealth of experience in evaluating human behavior and
emotions, can be the boots-on-the-ground investigators who can speak with
current employees and collect data on their impressions of the current work
environment and how the culture can be improved. Some of the questions private
investigators may address include, but are not limited to:
everyone in the company invested in the same things?
are the valued differences between your corporation and the competition?
are the key measures of success within your company?
is the functionality of the leadership in place versus the leadership required
are the environmental factors that are contributing to the decline in culture?
is the history of your company’s culture from its foundation?
are the subcultures that have formed in your organization and what is their
role within the company?
By answering these questions and calculating the human responses, private investigators can provide executive leadership with recommendations based on more than what exists on paper; for example, the last item on that list regarding the identification of subcultures. Private investigators do not only look at the behavior of individual employees, but also how those employees relate to each other. In workspaces where there are employees of 10 or more, it is hyper-common for subcultures (or groups) to form. This happens when individual employees gravitate towards one another as a result of their shared interests, goals, or gripes. Their comradery can either contribute to the cycle of corporate culture, or undermine it. When a subculture forms because the employees all have similar degrees of dissatisfaction with their job (regardless of the reason), their validation of one another in solidarity can be a cancer within the organization. This is why it’s imperative to hire corporate culture auditors who have a high level of understanding of human behavior—they can provide a comprehensive picture of how their current employees are contributing to the cycle of corporate culture.
private investigators may not be able to dismantle subcultures, they can change
the conversation within those subcultures. Groups of employees who bond over
poor treatment from a supervisor or frustration with current internal processes
will have to find other things to talk about once these issues are addressed
and remedied appropriately. This is one of the ways that we improve the cycle
of corporate culture. When employees see pervasive issues being addressed by
leadership, they are inherently more engaged in the process, which can increase
the quality of communication, the level of productivity, and the overall health
of the workplace. Private investigators are some of the best professionals to perform
these audits ultimately because they have a grasp of human behavior that allows
them to accurately pinpoint the issues and make recommendations to leadership.