|Updated: 11/16/2011 10:57 pm
||Published: 11/16/2011 10:31 am
Kurt Nordland never dreamed his Facebook photos would create huge problems.
The pictures show him drinking a beer and relaxing with his friends at the beach.
He never thought investigators from the insurance company paying his worker's comp were watching his Facebook account.
Soon after he posted the pictures, the insurance company cancelled his payments, cut off his medical benefits, and Nordland had to delay surgery to repair torn cartridge in his shoulder.
"I was extremely surprised they could just go on your Facebook and pull these pictures out," Nordland said.
What happened to Nordland is called social media snooping, and insurance companies are doing it across the country. So to protect yourself, you're going to want to make sure you protect your tweets and also check your Facebook privacy settings.
If insurance investigators think you're dabbling in risky business, you could pay higher premiums.
If they think you're faking an injury, you could face coverage cancellation.
"If they find anything that's embarrassing or anything they can use to paint you in a bad light, that's when it shows up in the case," Attorney Gary Massey said.
The Insurance Information Institute says absolutely some companies monitor people's social media pages, mostly to find potential fraud, which makes everyone's premiums more expensive.
"Insurance Fraud costs the insurance industry and consumers about 30 million dollars each year," James Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute said.
Eliminating fraud is private investigator Steve Davis' specialty. The first place he now checks - social media accounts.
He found pictures of one man apparently pulling kids around on an ATV while collecting disability insurance for an injury.
Another woman is tagged in photos taking helicopter flying lessons, yet the investigator says she was also claiming to be severely injured.
"If you're going to claim that you have a severe injury and you post pictures of you doing something crazy then shame on you,” Steve Davis, Chief Investigator at Davis and Associates said. “You shouldn't have those pictures on there and shame on you for committing insurance fraud."
The insurance industry says if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about.
"If you are an honest person this will not affect you at all," Salvatore said.
Nordland says he was honest, and medical records prove his on the job shoulder injury is legit.
"You have to be real careful," Nordland said.
His attorney fought the insurance company before a labor board, and won.
Experts say if you aren't careful with your privacy settings, people who are not your Facebook friends can see photos, updates, even places you've "checked in".