Biff! Bam! Pow! A Day in the Life of a Fraud Fighter
Overzealous debt collectors, angry exes and fraudulent credit card charges. It’s all in a day’s work for a top fraud investigator at IDT911.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Mark Fullbright has seen it all in his 18 years of fighting fraud. On an average day, the IDT911 senior fraud investigator works a range of cases. Some are as simple as a lost wallet, while others involve law enforcement and navigating the country’s complex court system. Fullbright has to switch gears as often as the phone rings, which means keeping the details of his cases fresh in his mind—and bringing his A-game every day. We shadowed him to see just what that entails. Between the numerous faxes, emails, online searches, incoming and outgoing phone calls and one very late, very short lunch, a few moments stood out.
The Hothead: Fullbright calls a collection agent who has harassed his customer for a $1,200 debt that isn’t hers. The agent starts screaming and threatens to track down Fullbright’s home address and post negative information about him online. This makes Fullbright . . . happy? “When they flip out, it tells me they’re up to no good,” Fullbright says. “Now I know this really is debt tagging.” Next step: Send the company written notification that they’re in violation of the law and copy the state attorney general and Better Business Bureau. And block unknown calls to the victim’s home phone.
The Angry Ex: Fullbright counsels a woman whose ex-husband used her Social Security number to file a fraudulent tax return. She’s concerned about her credit file. Part confidante, part therapist—and always on the lookout for risks to his customers—Fullbright reassures her that there’s no new negative activity.
The Worst Case Ever: Fullbright is deeply invested in getting Adrianne Parker’s* life back on track after working on her case for more than six years. Parker’s ranks as the worst case of identity theft he has ever seen: The woman who stole her identity ruined her credit, racked up thousands in debt, and piled up arrests and criminal charges in several states—all in Parker’s name. Since the perpetrator’s recent arrest, he has tracked the criminal case through the court system. Today he tells Parker that a hearing has been scheduled. “We help customers understand the information we gather, and explain what happens next,” Fullbright says.
What Happens in Vegas Gets Reported to the FBI: A new customer calls to report that an employee at a Las Vegas big-box retailer has stolen personal information. This could be the beginning of a high-profile problem for the store. After confirming that a fraud alert has been placed on the customer’s credit file, Fullbright helps the customer file reports with Homeland Security and local police, in addition to the FBI and ATF. When it comes to complex cases like this one, he says, “You have to get the upper hand.”
The Professor: Fullbright speaks to a man whose debit card was stolen and used to charge $300 worth of goods. There’s no other fraud apparent in his credit file, but Fullbright spends 15 minutes educating the customer on the ins and outs of debit card fraud.
The Whopper: A new customer has been hit with $16,383 in fraudulent charges. Fullbright is eager to help but before he can, he spends nearly an hour on six phone calls just trying to sort through the man’s insurance coverage. It’s late in the day, but, undaunted, Fullbright gets the information he needs.
Last Call: Having reviewed his open cases and made a to-do list for the next day, Fullbright is packing up to go home. Then the phone rings: Someone has been ripped off for $4,200 in debit card fraud. Putting it off until tomorrow would mean leaving a worried customer hanging. Fullbright gets to work.
Was this a particularly hectic day?
“It would be hectic if we didn’t know what to expect,” says Fullbright as he heads for the door after 8 p.m. “But we do. When you walk in every morning, you have an idea of what cases you need to follow up on, but things change fast. This is what we do. This is our expertise.”
* The customer’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
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