In the world of insurance, some of the questions around a claim often involve determining whether or not a claimant is being entirely truthful
about what happened, what was lost or the
true value of the items involved in the loss.
At the RIMS annual conference and
exhibition in San Diego, Calif., Pamela
Meyer, founder and chief executive officer of Calibrate, a Washington, D.C.-based company that provides deception
detection training for businesses, highlighted some behaviors that could indicate an insured is being less than truthful.
“We’re not in the business of being 100
percent honest,” she explained as she described how Henry Oberlander, one of
the world’s most successful fraudsters,
was able to defraud so many victims.
Oberlander believed that “everyone is
willing to give something for whatever it
is they desire the most,” and this makes
them vulnerable in a fraudulent situation.
“If you’re hungry for money, you’re
much more likely to fall for a get rich
scam,” explained Meyer. The same holds
true for those who are looking for love.
“You are much more like likely to fall for
the wrong person.” She said that lying is
a cooperative act and its power emerges
when someone else agrees to believe a lie.
What are we hungry for?
“We wish we were better,” said Meyer,
“and lying is an attempt to bridge that gap
and that hunger is something that can
drive you forward or into the ground if
you don’t know what you’re hungry for.”
Research shows that people lie more to
strangers than to their co-workers, that
extroverts lie more and persist more in
their lies than introverts, and powerful
people lie more than the less powerful.
Men lie more to boost themselves up
in front of others and women usually lie
to protect others. When it comes to married couples, they lie to each other in one
out of every 10 interactions. Unmarried
people lie in one in every five interactions. “We’re against lying in general, but
we covertly do it in ways our society approves of when we tell stories all of the
time,” said Meyer.
She explained that the more intelligent
a species is, the more likely they are to lie.
“Babies will fake a cry to see who comes.
Five-year-olds will lie outright and college kids lie in one in every five interactions,” she added.
In the workplace, the numbers are
even more astounding. Meyer said that
people lie in 37 percent of their phone
calls, in 27 percent of their face-to-face
interactions, in 21 percent of their in-
stant message chats and 14 percent of
their e-mails. She also stated that people
are less likely to lie in writing.
When doing an investigation, Meyer
recommended insurance professionals go
to original sources because they are more
likely to get to the truth of the matter.
In studies of employees who were
caught in a fraud, most are more likely
to be stealing intellectual property, 36
percent are living beyond their means,
27 percent are experiencing financial difficulties, 19 percent admit to being too
close to the vendors they work with, and
14 percent have control issues.
What aren’t you saying?
Meyer said that humans are no better
than apes at detecting deception, and
training can make a difference in improving that skill. She outlined a number of
verbal and non-verbal indicators to watch
for while conducting an interview.
Listen carefully to what a subject may
or may not say. Verbal dodges that indi-
cate an individual is not being truthful
• The use of more formal language
• Qualifying language to
narrow the field of denial
• Over-emphasizing truthfulness
— e.g., “I’m telling you
the truth, honest!”
• Religious references
• Inappropriate tenses in speech
— using past and present
tense in the same sentence
• Denying in a very prescribed way
• Specific denials
• Non-contracted denial — e.g.,
“I did not” vs. “I didn’t”
When trying to determine if people are
lying, she recommends looking at how
they denied it. Did they word it very spe-
cifically? Are the facts their friend and do
they confirm their story?
Can you spot a liar?
By Patricia L. Harman