Location: Scotts Valley, CA, United States

Friday, May 12, 2017

How HR and Benefits Managers can Protect Company Productivity by Providing Identity Theft Protection as an employee Benefit

We all know someone who has been a victim of identity theft but rarely do we connect the victim’s experience with the toll it can take on the workplace.

Identity theft has a big effect on employee productivity. Employees are not only impacted financially, but they also experience considerable distraction and emotional stress which leads to less time focused on work. It can take up to more than 600 hours to restore an identity. And a lot of this must be done during business hours.

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission report that over 16 million people or 7% of all US residents age 16 of older, were victims of one of more incidents of identity theft in the last year.

Identity Theft victims report direct and indirect losses of over $24.7 billion and 6 Million people reported moderate or severe emotional distress as a result of being a victim.

This means when an employee or one of their family members has their identity stolen, there's another innocent victim: the employer. For these reasons, it's critical in today's digitized world to help the employee protect their personal identity through benefit programs and training.

Presenteeism is a real factor as well. Unlike absenteeism, presenteeism isn’t always apparent. You know when someone doesn’t show up for work, but you often can’t tell when—or how much—stressful situations hinder someone’s performance.

One reason for the rise in identity theft is due to the fact that we are living in an environment that is increasingly connected. Today, we have mobile devices, laptops and even smart home devices that contain a wealth of personal information. Additionally, the prevalence of mobile devices both in the workplace and in our personal lives means personal data is everywhere.

Often, we think of identity theft as just financial or credit in nature, but there are actually several additional kinds of ID Theft:

·         Social Security Number Fraud/Employment ID Theft where someone else is using another's SSN to get a job.
  • ·         Drivers License Fraud is where the thief uses a "fake ID" to buy alcohol or drive. When the thief commits a moving violation or other crime, the victim pays the consequences.
  • ·         Criminal Identity Theft: The one who commits the crime shows a victims ID, who eventually gets arrested and/or jailed.
  • ·         Medical ID Theft - the victim gets a bill for medical services they didn't experience or their insurance is tapped for services the thief uses.
  • ·         Tax Return Fraud. On the rise, the IRS reports that Billions of Dollars of tax refunds are sent to the wrong person because a tax return was fraudulently filed before the correct tax payer files theirs.

All of these take time and energy to repair, often during business hours taking the employee away from their duties.

Now more than ever, there’s an increased likelihood of identity theft affecting an employee or their family members, and in turn, the employer. That’s why HR and benefits managers need to focus on protecting employees (and their firm) with a number of steps.

Explore Identity Theft protection as a company paid or voluntary benefit. First, nothing or no one can totally prevent identity theft; it’s about continuous monitoring and professional restoration. Identity theft protection services can be added as a employer-paid or voluntary benefit, in order to show that the company is proactively working to protect employees’ personal information both within and outside the walls of the office.
·         The Identity Theft protection benefit should include "Comprehensive Restoration" so that the victim of identity theft doesn't have to do the repair themselves.
·         Since 70% of identity theft occurrences become legal in nature, the Identity Theft protection benefit should be paired with a legal plan, so that the victim has access to legal assistance in the process

Information should be provided.  Lunch and learn events or web meetings can go a long way to help employees practice preventive habits.

Revisit employee policies. Ensure that best practices are continually followed and routinely updated around corporate email and internet usage, social media guidelines and mobile device/"Bring Your Own Device policies.

It appears that incidents of Identity Theft will increase, not decrease over the next few years. Taking steps to decrease absenteeism and increase productivity will pay dividends in the long run.

Contact Alan L. Smith at for more information on Identity Theft Protection as an employee benefit.


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