Identity theft protection for your staff

March 21, 2014 

As problems like identity theft become more prevalent, now more than ever, Americans need to take their financial health seriously -- and this information is of the utmost importance.

-- Ruben Hinojos

Identity theft is at an all-time high. More than 30 million cases have been reported in the last five years, 12 million of which occurred in 2012. An estimated $21 million was stolen last year, and statistics show a theft now takes place every three seconds.

In every conversation I have with a group of people, it seems there is always one or two who say they have been a victim of identity theft. Each one shares how difficult it was to straighten out and are typically still very upset about it even though the crime occurred many months or years ago.

With identity theft running rampant, employers really should consider offering their staff some support or protection. When one of your employees has their identity stolen, they must spend business time addressing the issue. Being so preoccupied -- and understandably so -- means they will not be as productive as they would otherwise be. In addition to that, morale will plummet as the loss will affect all workers.

One very troubling identity theft statistic is that 12 percent of all stolen identities are used to commit a crime. Sorting out the theft itself is hard enough, but imagine what an employee would have to deal with if an arrest warrant was issued for the wrong

person.

I do not think anyone missed last year's Target compromise. In this one case, 110 million payment card accounts were hacked. Even Neiman Marcus credit accounts were compromised as a result. This is simply to say identity theft is a continuous worry for all of us and will probably get much worse over time.

For all these reasons, I think it is really worthwhile to offer all your staff members credit monitoring services to continuously guard the financial accounts and credit scores of both your employees and their partners. The best monitoring program is going to be one that includes assistance for the victim should their identity be stolen.

Monitoring services can cost less than $20 a month and are well worth the expense. You set your employees up with invaluable peace of mind while ensuring minimal disruptions in their work.

It is so important to remember that when an identity is stolen, it is not the employee's fault. It could happen to anyone. They are just really unlucky to have fallen victim.

Consider acquiring a monitoring program for your staff. It will be a great benefit to talk about when recruiting new employees and provide your existing staff with a valuable service.

Jerry Osteryoung, a consultant to businesses, is Jim Moran professor of entrepreneurship (emeritus) and professor of finance (emeritus) at Florida State University. Reach him at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

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