Q & A with Tara Hilton, CFE

Tara Hilton of Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently became a CFE after attending the CFE Exam Review Course in Los Angeles. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. Tara also coaches girls club volleyball. This past July, however, she put some time aside to accomplish her goal of obtaining the CFE credential. The process of obtaining her CFE has broadened Tara’s fraud-related knowledge and skillset, and it has provided her with information that she didn’t have before. Tara believes that having her CFE will open many doors for her career.

Coach: When did you receive your CFE credential? 

Hilton: I was certified on July 22, 2016. 
Coach:  You attended the CFE Exam Review Course in Los Angeles, and following the course you sat for the CFE Exam on-site. Please describe your experience of participating in the four-day course and then sitting for the exam immediately after.

Hilton: I thought that attending the review course and taking the exam on the same day aided me in passing each exam. It does make for a long day, but my scores were significantly higher than when I took the online practice exams.
Coach: What did you like most about the CFE Exam Review Course?

Hilton: The course content was excellent and was tailored to all adult learning styles. I really enjoyed HOW the facilitators taught the content. I was really able to grasp concepts that I wasn’t able to fully understand just by reading the manual.
Coach: In what ways do you feel that your new CFE credential will be beneficial to you in your current profession?

Hilton: Fraud-related training at my credit union is limited. The ACFE provides training that I am unable to obtain anywhere else. Attaining my CFE has broadened my training, knowledge, and skillset, providing me with information that I did not have before. Also, having my CFE opens many doors for my career.
Coach: How did you prepare yourself to sit for the exam on-site? Did you spend any additional time studying after class each day?

Hilton: After a full day of instruction, I did allow myself 15 minutes to review that day’s content. I specifically concentrated on my weak topics, and when ready, I made sure I was as comfortable as possible (i.e., taking time for a restroom break, snack, or drink) before taking each exam.  There is no per-question time limit when taking the on-site exam, which is worth its weight in gold. In speaking with other participants, one person had a really great idea. That idea was to take the online practice exam the evening before the next day’s topic. So if the Law section review was on Tuesday, I spent a couple of hours on Monday evening after dinner taking the Law online practice exam. That way my mind was prepared for the next day’s topic.
Coach: Would you recommend this course to your colleagues?

Hilton: Absolutely! Life has a lot of distractions, and this was the perfect way to get away and solely concentrate on the material. I really do think that I tested better and attained better scores with the review course than if I had attempted to take the CFE Exam online.
Coach: How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

Hilton: I became passionate about fraud by accident. I worked in a credit union collections department, and the fraud investigator happened to be in the same department. I always loved catching fraud when I was a teller, and the fraud investigator took me under his wing and showed me how he investigated his cases. I then moved to a different credit union to oversee collections. A fraud investigator position opened up, and I was asked to apply. I did, got the job, and haven’t looked back since. I love investigating fraud and am super talented at it. I wish I had found it earlier in my career, but I’m very fortunate that I discovered my passion for fraud investigations when I did. I love it!
Coach:  Now that we know what you do professionally, what do you like to do for fun and what do you find enjoyable about it?

Hilton:  When I am not investigating fraud, I am spending time with my family, which includes a love for traveling. Additionally, I coach girls club volleyball, concentrating on the high school level. I love to see the girls’ growth. I also play competitive volleyball, and my goal is to play at nationals next year.
Coach: Do you have any study tips or suggestions for aspiring CFEs?

Hilton: I started studying the Fraud Examiners Manual and reviewing Prep Course questions four months prior to attending the CFE Exam Review Course. As I got closer to the course, I allotted more time for studying. I do suggest contacting the CFE Exam Coach for suggestions. Everyone studies and learns differently, and tapping into that expertise is worth it. I do not suggest going to the review course without studying ahead of time. One month prior to the course, I was studying two hours per day, five days per week. I actually had notebooks for each of the four topic areas. I would allot myself 30 minutes to review and write notes for each section. So every night, I was covering information from all four areas. Studying before the course really lightened the load. I could concentrate on the areas that I didn’t get to when studying (and not beat myself up over it). I am very thankful that I did study.