Claims brought about for auto accidents, injuries and other damages can weigh heavily on insurance companies. These costs can be greatly exacerbated when individuals submit fraudulent claims as part of a recurring scheme or to obtain a large one-time payout. To combat these types of crimes, more insurance companies are turning to social media for evidence that some claims may not be valid.

Over several years, many insurance marketing agencies have used social media to engage with current and prospective customers. More recently, however, companies have found that individuals put a great deal of information on their public pages, some of which demonstrates that not all claims are legitimate. Divorce attorneys, employers and college admissions boards have long used social media to conduct checks on individuals, and insurance companies now see the web channels as a resource for combating losses that total nearly $80 billion a year from fraudulent claims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

For example, in 2011 a woman who had been receiving disability payments after leaving the workforce to battle depression stopped receiving her checks. When she inquired as to the reason, her insurance company noted that it saw pictures of her on Facebook engaged in several activities that negated her depression and disability claims, the L.A. Times noted.

More recently, four women staged an auto accident and each submitted claims for injuries, which totaled $37,359, according to the Insurance Journal. The women claimed they did not know each other following the accident. However, the insurance company later discovered that the four women were all Facebook friends and had masterminded the accident. They are now facing charges for felony counts of insurance fraud.

Social media may help companies curb fraud and save billions

Industry experts say the trend of relying on social media to check into individuals' backgrounds is not likely to go away, especially as insurance companies discover that they can thwart crime and curb fraud losses by doing so.

While it's crucial that insurance companies follow the law by only utilizing information posted publicly to make their claims, investing in these types of resources can help save them time and money and lead to a more transparent process.