ShutDown: Consumer Fraud Investigations Halted

ShutDown: Consumer Fraud Investigations Halted

ShutDown: Consumer Fraud Investigations Halted

The United States government has been shut down for almost four weeks, sending shockwaves throughout a nation already gripped by tumultuous politics and controversial issues. In addition to institutions like the National Parks System, and the National Institute of Health, all federal employees have currently been laid off from duty, and a majority of their services suspended. The ripple effect is dizzying, with many of the governments services being on hold for the duration of the shutdown. Many consumers across the country are not aware of the shutdown’s impact on some of our nation’s best departments, so you can imagine their shock when they phoned to report a consumer complaint, and were told the government couldn’t help them.

When running normally, the government requires a wealth of quality communication to run smoothly. As many federal employees remain on furlough, therefore not being compensated, everyone’s level of communication with one another is atypical and—as many federal employees are called in without pay—constantly breaking down. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the federal agency that fields the influx of consumer complaints. A consumer submits their complaint about a business or financial entity to the CFPB, which is reviewed. According to the CFPB, after the complaint is reviewed, “We’ll forward your complaint and any documents you provide to the company and work to get a response from them. If we find that another government agency would be better able to assist, we will forward your complaint to them and let you know.” The CFPB remains in operation and was not effected by the shutdown, but if the agency is ill-equipped to deal with the complaint, they may never get off the ground, as the appropriate department might be effected by the shutdown. This leaves many consumers displaced when it comes to voicing their concerns about products and services.

la-fi-lazarus-fcc-robocalls-20160729-snapThis suspension of protection services has allowed the beast of robo-calls to fester and become feral, as consumers cannot block or report harassing robo-calls. They’re left screaming into the void. Alex Quilici, the chief executive of YouMail—a smartphone application that helps consumers block robo-calls—describes it, “It’s a neighborhood with no police on the beat.” YouMail estimated, just last month, there were 5 billion robo-calls made, and 50% of calls made in early 2019 could be coming from scammers and robots attempting to fraudulently obtain your information. These horrifying statistics are the codas for a chorus of federal employees who are aware of the scope of the problem, like Jessica Rosenworcel, the Federal Communications Commission Commissioner, “The number of robo-calls consumers are receiving is insane. The problem just keeps growing. Shutting down the government is not going to help.” As of this moment, there is no one to administrate the “Do Not Call” list, the national registry in which consumers can ask specific companies not to contact them.

The Federal Communications Commission is just one of many threads woven into the Federal Trade Commission. Another voiceless victim of the shutdown is the victim of identity fraud. Louette Duvall is one of these victims. Not long after the holidays were over, Duvall’s car was pilfered by thieves while she was at her job. They made off with her purse, her briefcase, and a wealth of identifying information that amounted to a scammer’s treasure trove. Fraudulent charges started rolling in as she scrambled to alert all of her creditors and financial institutions that she had been robbed. She began calculating the full scope of the theft’s ramifications: New checkbooks ordered, extravagant items ordered in her name, new credit cards, the list goes on and on. When she called the Federal Trade Commission to let them know her identity had been stolen, she was told they could not help her due to the government shutdown. FTC data prior to the shutdown stated that the agency received thousands of calls a day regarding identity theft alone. That’s thousands of crimes going uninvestigated every day, a Washington Post reporter pointed out when they became a victim as well. Not only are new crimes going unreported, but investigative resources are also frozen. The Consumer Sentinel Network helps investigators track the movement of identity theft and related frauds to build cases against the perpetrators, and it remains down as of day 26 of the longest government shutdown in history. At a minimum, the FTC is still allowing individuals to file complaints so that they be issued an affidavit for their creditors’ purposes.

News coverage of the shutdown has attempted to sharpen the big picture for Americans when it comes to the ripple effect of the government shutdown. While many federal agencies might be unable to assist consumers with complaints, there is recourse for consumers experiencing the myriad of issues helmed by the Federal Trade Commission. There are online, step-by-step resources for obtaining documentation to dispute fraudulent charges and claims. Consumers can also retain the services of a private investigator. One of the most beneficial aspects of hiring a private investigator is that they are the top of the chain of command in their firm. They are the ones calling the shots in any investigation, not a supervisor nor a superior. They will represent your interests and your interests alone. As is the case with many frauds and thefts, perpetrators tend to either operate remotely, or move quickly to evade law enforcement. Acting independently, private investigators will be able to move as fluidly as a scammer, crossing jurisdictional boundaries with little to no red tape. Statistics surrounding fraud indicate that many federal investigators in charge of tracking down scammers and thieves are inundated with a never-ending stream of complaints. This means their attention can be divided over and over again across a heavy caseload. A typical private investigator only handles between 3-4 cases at a time, meaning your case can be a priority for them and not just another file in a drawer.

Political pundits and talking heads don’t project a sunny forecast when it comes to the shutdown—no end in sight. As the shutdown enters its 27th day, many Americans who have been the victims of consumer fraud and identity theft who do not yet know the full scope of the shutdown’s impact will receive an ugly surprise when they turn to the federal government for help. While the government gets its house in order, know that there are options for victims of consumer and identity fraud. Consult a private investigator today to learn how their specific skill set, experience, and independence can help you get right the ship when it comes to fraud.



5 Ways Private Investigators Benefit Human Resources

5 Ways Private Investigators Benefit Human Resources

5 Ways Private Investigators Benefit Human Resources

Our brains are one of the defining parts of our anatomy that makes up who we are as humans, but without vital organs such as the heart, we cannot live to become who we were meant to be. The brain sends signals to the heart to pump vital fluids and maintain the health and fitness of the body in order to grow and develop. In a capitalist world of business and commerce, if a CEO is the brains of a company, certainly Human Resources is the heart. Before any employee can enter a company, they must go through HR, just as vital fluids must pass through the heart before reaching their destination. It is important for Human Resource representatives to be armed with knowledge to allow them to bring in the best and the brightest to contribute to their company. One of the ways HR can rest easy in their hires is by retaining the services of a private investigator to voire dire the candidate base, maintain a healthy work environment, and prevent employee fraud that would damage the company. 

Hiring the Right People 

If proper precautions are not taken, hiring a candidate who might soon be terminated can be very costly to a company. Even if the employee is making minimum wage at the time of their termination, a study from the Society for Human Resource Management estimated it can cost as much as $3500 to replace that employee. The higher the level of employment, the costs exponentially increase, with other estimates claiming that it could cost as much as 150% for middle-level employees and 400% for high-level. Therefore, hiring the correct employee on the first attempt can be critical. As the heart of the company, Human Resources are often overwhelmed with a myriad of tasks, which can make the vetting of potential employees fall lower and lower on the list of priorities. This is where the services of a private investigator will prove prudent. Private investigators can use their time and skills to perform background checks on employees, painting a clearer picture for HR representatives. This helps ensure the hiring of proper employees, which minimizes turnover, and greases the wheels of progress within a company.

Exposing Workplace Theft

A report by CBS News estimated that a typical business will lose 5% of annual revenue to employee theft. Employee Theft Solutions, a division of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft and Spending, has estimated that nearly one third of all corporate bankruptcies were the result of unfettered employee theft. Even more alarming, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that 75% of employed persons will steal from their workplace or employer and will continue to steal if not exposed. It is a staggering statistic that should garner scrutiny from the Human Resources department with regards to their own workforce. Bearing in mind that investigating the behavior of a single prospective employee could be very time consuming, imagine having to vet an entire staff in order to uncover a source of theft. With an average of 3-5 cases at any given time, private investigators have the time and access to resources that can help expose the perpetrator of theft in a company. In addition to checking security systems and interviewing witnesses, private investigators also have the advantage of being able to conduct undercover investigations in order to squeeze out the source of theft. These investigative services can help reinforce the wall that prevents employees from devastating a company with fraud. 

Fraudulent Compensation Claims

A significant portion of the costs incurred annually by employees is attributed to worker’s compensation claims. As a member of Human Resources, it might be easy to trust every single worker compensation claim that comes through the pipeline. After all, yourself or a former superior may have hired the employee, and you trust one another’s respective judgement. However, it is naïve to assume every claim will be legitimate. Worker compensation claims can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per fiscal year depending on the volume of claims. A recent statistic by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in 2014 estimated that it can cost companies as much as a $1.00 per every $100 of employee wages, which can add up very quickly. This is where a private investigator can be a godsend amidst pending litigation. Often in worker compensation claims, interviews are required with the claimant to get their version of events that led up to their injury. While members of Human Resources have many gifts, they may not be skilled in extracting the truth from an employee who might be committing a fraud. Private investigators work to get to the truth every day and can assist the HR department in protecting themselves within the letter of the law. With the resources and due-diligence of a PI vetting the claim, businesses can rest easy knowing that the claims coming through the Human Resources department have merit. 

HR Investigation Integrity 

With the growing problem of drugs in the workplace and the rise of the #MeToo movement, businesses are having more use for private investigators than ever before. A recent article by CNBC details how a rising number of businesses are hiring private investigators in order to identify predators in their workforce before an employee comes forward with claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, or threats. 

“An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure here, because the cost of potential drop in stock price, legal and PR cost — the possibility of regulators getting involved and regulating industries — they are enormous compared with the relatively modest expenditure in hiring folks like us in order to rule out this behavior,” said Nardello, CEO of Nardello & Co.

In addition to identifying these problems to save a business money, it is also imperative that any internal Human Resources department conducts a thorough, prompt, and lawful investigation. Just as private investigators can use their skills to identify predators, they can also protect any HR personnel from compromising the integrity of an investigation, protecting them from legal liability. 

An Objective Eye 

Human Resources: It’s in the name. Whenever there is a problem between coworkers, a discrepancy in payroll, or simple maintenance of a healthy work environment, the human resources department is where employees will turn to address issues in their job. And while members of HR do their best to solve these problems from an administrating and mediating position, they cannot always be objective. After all, HR is just as much a part of the workforce as any other employee, and all of the same implications of camaraderie and friendship can apply. By the same token, HR can also have negative relationships with the subjects of their investigations, which can influence their judgement. These biases can have a toxic effect on office morale, and employees might not feel as though they can trust Human Resources to be fair and impartial when addressing workplace issues. When there is no trust, the important relationship between HR and other departments breaks down. As is the case with many investigative scenarios, a private investigator is always the perfect second set of eyes to have when examining these issues. Without a stake in the outcome of any internal investigation, private investigators can remain unbiased as they conduct interviews, collect evidence, and reach a conclusion in regards to the veracity of any claim. 

It is important for any Human Resources department to safeguard themselves against the many challenges—both internal and external—they encounter on a daily basis in their company. Retaining the services of a private investigator can go a long way to taking pressure off an already busy department, as well as providing an objective third-party perspective that will positively benefit companies as they grow and develop. If CEOs are the brains of a company and the Human Resources department is the heart, certainly a private investigator would be the immune system; identifying problems and staving off possible infection in order to maintain the health and productivity of any work environment. 



Why Attorneys Should have a Private Investigators Business Card in their Pocket

Private investigators can be an attorney’s best friend. Juggling multiple cases for different clients is time consuming and can make giving adequate attention to every client’s needs challenging. Here are everyday scenarios when private investigators can make an attorney’s job easier.

Serving Subpoenas

Cases can be won and lost based on which side has more witnesses show up to court. Subpoenas are a great way to compel people to be present for court, but what good is a subpoena if you can’t find the person to serve it to?

Don’t let a search for witnesses become a distraction from your work and a headache for your client. Tracking people down is a private investigator’s bread and butter. Not only can P.I.s locate known witnesses, they can also canvas an area and do interviews to find more witnesses to strengthen your case.

Research and expertise

Attorneys need to do ample research to be as prepared as possible every time they walk into a court room. They must know and understand as much about every case as possible. It’s not always enough to know the facts of a case and you may need to bring in a third party to act as an expert witness. Investigators can help you find the right experts quickly so you don’t waste your client’s time and money on the wrong people.

Private investigators spend a lot of time doing research. They can efficiently scour databases and identify applicable information to aid your client’s case. Outsourcing research to P.I.s can reduce the costs incurred by your clients too. Attorney fees can stack up quickly and clients will appreciate saving money where they can.

Preparing for Cross-Examination

Testimony is one of the most powerful tools in any lawyer’s tool box. Putting someone on the stand to give their personal account is powerful and can sway judges and jurors in a heartbeat. Knowing what to expect from the other sides witnesses, as well your own, can give you the edge during any hearing. Attorneys should never put someone on the stand without carefully considering the strengths and weaknesses of the individual and their testimony.

Private investigators can help evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your clients and identify potential areas of their testimony that the other side will try to exploit. Private investigators are experienced in court room scenarios and can even assist in mock examinations to better prepare your clients.

Help Enforce Judgments

Winning a case is every attorney’s goal, but getting a judgement in your favor is only half the battle. What can you do if the losing side decides not to obey the judge’s order? What if they attempt to misrepresent their assets and net worth?

Hiring a private investigator to locate and identify assets before a judgement is passed down can help you know what you can get for your client. Knowing what the opposing side has ahead of time will prevent them from hiding assets and denying your client their just dues. It will also make it easier for the judge to understand what you’re seeking and why.

For Private Investigation Inquiry contact Thomas Lauth, Lauth Investigations 317-951-1100

David Schroeder, Blog Writer, Lauth Investigations International

How Private Investigators Can Help During your Custody Battle

How Private Investigators Can Help During your Custody Battle

Divorce is difficult. Even more so when children are involved. Figuring out custodial agreements is challenging and presents opportunities for disagreement that can span years. It’s important that parents understand all of the resources available to them and how private investigators can be valuable assets in the fight to protect their children and secure custody.

Is your child coming home with signs of abuse?

If you suspect your child is being abused, you need to begin documenting all of the evidence immediately. Bruises or marks, no matter how small or faint, must be photographed as soon as they are noticed. Photographic evidence is some of the strongest evidence you can produce.

It can be difficult to prove child abuse has taken place. Depending on the age of the child they may not be able to articulate exactly what happened. If the abuse was traumatic enough it could cause confusion when the child tries to explain what occured. The importance of adequately documenting potential abuse cannot be overstated.

Private investigators have the equipment and insight to properly record suspected instances of abuse. Dealing with the court system is a private investigator’s forte and they understand what the courts need to see and how it must be presented to prompt the courts to take action. When it comes to your child’s safety, you cannot afford to delay seeking help.

I’m concerned my ex is using drugs around our children.

Across America a heroin epidemic is breaking out. Drug abuse is impacting people of all social and economic backgrounds. Recently a picture circulated news and social media of two adults passed out from a heroin overdose in their SUV while a four-year-old boy sat helplessly in the back seat.


The female in the passenger seat is the boy’s grandmother. She lost consciousness after shooting-up while her boyfriend drove. Upon being stopped by police for driving erratically, the boyfriend passed out too. The grandmother had only had custody of the boy for 5 weeks when this occurred.

No one knew the grandmother’s heroin abuse was so bad or she never would’ve been granted custody in the first place. But this raises the question of how anyone could have known her addiction was this in strong? What red flags were missed that could’ve kept this boy out of danger? Was this the first time the couple used drugs with the child present?

Private investigators are trained to pay attention to and take note of people’s abnormal behavior. Surveillance by a P.I. may have led to the discovery of the grandmother’s drug abuse before the child was put in this potentially fatal scenario.  Thankfully the police were able to intervene and get the boy to safety.

My ex isn’t spending their visitation time with our kids. What can I do?

When the courts determine visitation time they do so expecting the parents to spend that time with their child. This isn’t always the case though. Sometimes the parent will take the child for visitation time, but drop them off with a family member or baby sitter.

One parent passing their child off to someone else during visitation time not only deprives the child of time quality time, but it prevents the other parent from seeing their child as well. Depending on your state and custodial agreement, it’s possible it’s a violation of the law as well.

The Right of First Refusal stipulates that when one parent plans to have a third party babysit their child during visitation time, they must first give the other parent a chance to say they will or won’t watch the child instead. Private Investigators can provide records and documentation that demonstrates when visitation isn’t being properly utilized to make sure the parents who want time with their child are getting it.

I’m worried about the new people my ex is bringing around our kids.

One of the scarier parts of a divorce is knowing sooner or later your child is going to be introduced to new people you won’t get the chance to know beforehand. No one wants their child around strangers, but it’s an inevitable reality of separate parenting. It’s possible the new people in your ex’s life are wonderful, but why take any chances?

Private investigators can help alleviate these concerns. Investigators routinely perform background checks that can help you to better know who’s around your child. Concerned about where your children are being taken when they’re not with you? Surveillance can keep you informed about your children’s condition and whereabouts when you can’t be there.

For Private Investigation Inquiry contact Thomas Lauth, Lauth Investigations 317-951-1100

David Schroeder, Blog Writer, Lauth Investigations International

How Private Investigators Can Help During your Custody Battle

Tips for Finding the Right Private Investigator


The internet age has made it easier than ever to save time and find the right private investigator to suit your needs. Websites that aggregate reviews make it simple to check multiple firm’s reputations at once. Utilizing email means investigators can respond to your inquiries lightning quick. With that in mind, here’s a few tips to help you find the right private investigator.

Find customer reviews and ask for references

Every business aims to satisfy it’s customers and private investigation firms are no different. One of the biggest benefits of the internet is the ability to quickly find reviews of just about anything. The Better Business Bureau, Yelp and Angie’s list are examples websites dedicated to keeping customers informed by aggregating reviews.

You can go to any of those sites and read hundreds of reviews from customers to help you figure out where to do business. Sometimes customers will give bad reviews for reasons outside of the business’s control. Luckily most review centric sites show the average of all reviews to help you determine if that bad review was an isolated incident or not.

Another way to determine where to spend your money is by asking the firm directly for references. Quality firms will be able to present references on request and if they can’t then it should set of alarm bells for potential clients. Always ask for references and reach out to as many past clients as you can.

You shouldn’t have to wait for a response to your inquiries

When you inquire with an investigation firm about doing business with them you should expect a quick response. With the advent of email it doesn’t make any sense that you would have to wait days to find out if you’re going to do business with a company or not. You may not get a fleshed out response right away, but it’s reasonable to expect acknowledgment of your request as soon as possible.

It benefits the client and the firm to respond expeditiously. Fast correspondence helps lay the groundwork for the level of service a client can expect and reflects the attention and importance with which a firm will serve them. Firms responding slowly or sporadically to your inquiries could be indicative of how they’ll handle your case. Do you want to wait for information about your case or do you want to know everything as soon as your investigators do?

Can they offer you a written cost estimate?

Ask anyone what the three most important considerations for where they do business are and you’re guaranteed to hear “price” listed early and often. Everyone is working within the constraints of their budget. Knowing what you’re going to spend ahead of time can help you maximize available funds and prevent unneeded stress.

Veteran investigators should be able to provide you with an estimate of the costs of your case, but it’s important that you get it in writing. Getting a written estimate will minimize the chances of miscommunication and confusion when the final bill arrives. Clients shouldn’t be caught off guard by the costs of the investigators work and veteran P.I.s understand this.

For Private Investigation Inquiry contact Thomas Lauth, Lauth Investigations 317-951-1100

David Schroeder, Blog Writer, Lauth Investigations International