Identity Theft and Your Employees

an employee concerned about identity theft

Identity Theft and Your Employees

As an employer, it’s in your best interest and the interest of your employees to tackle identity theft head on. Employers need to play an active role instead of reacting to disasters.

Identify Theft Affects Productivity

If a criminal compromises an employee’s identity, it takes between 33 to more than 600 hours for an employee to restore their identity.

If the thief accesses their finances they could clear out their bank accounts, destroy their credit, and blacken their name. Repairing any of these problems often means contacting banks, lenders, and credit bureaus during business hours. The more time that they’re focused on trying to restore their identity, the less time they’re focused on the job at hand.

You’re Responsible For Your Employee Data

Businesses often stockpile plenty of personally identifiable information on their employees, including social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, driver’s license numbers, medical information, and more. When a hacker accesses an employee’s information through your business it indicates that your company is vulnerable and a breach can devastate your company’s reputation and finances.

Currently, under Pennsylvania law, you’re required to notify affected parties and it is a costly, involved procedure. Ponemon Institute reports U.S. post data breach costs tie as the most expensive in the world. You’ll pay for legal fees, identity protection services, and spend plenty of time dealing with regulatory bodies and employee concerns.

Identity Theft Continues to Rise

A 2018 study from Javelin Strategy & Research reports a record high for identity fraud of 16.7 million victims with $16.8 billion lost from fraudulent behavior.

If data theft was only due to outdated software, companies could simply update their computers. However, identity theft can originate from many sources and employees are often unaware it has even occurred. Fortunately, your company can do many things to decrease the likelihood of identity theft and minimize the impact when discovered early.

Revisit Device & Internet Policies

Today, internet and mobile technologies play a central role in most businesses. If employees do not understand how to use technologies safely, they can unintentionally reveal personal information.

Update your company’s policies regarding email and internet usage, as well as social media and mobile device guidelines. Include information on whether it is appropriate for an employee to use their own device for work and explain the dangers of public Wi-Fi.

If your company allows employees to work from home, specify how they can do so safely. Otherwise they may be storing sensitive data on removable media and mobile devices. A lost laptop, cellphone, tablet, or flash drive with sensitive data can be just as damaging as a data hack.

Establish a company policy regarding passwords, too. Many companies choose a password manager app to ensure safe, complex passwords.

Train Employees

Training employees to recognize the possible signs of identity theft increases early detection. Encourage employees to review their free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion regularly and to sign up for fraud alerts.

A 2017 Federal Trade Commission report found employment and tax-related fraud the second-most common forms of identity theft after credit cards. Surprisingly, 70% of people revealed their personal information over the telephone. Email, websites, snail mail, and other avenues account for the balance.

Schedule on-going telephone and online etiquette training. Conduct background checks on individuals authorized to access personal information and limit access. Continually reinforce your company’s privacy policy and procedures.

Review Insurance Coverage

According to Insurance Journal, half of U.S. firms do not have cyber liability insurance. Fortunately, the insurance industry now offers many products to suit any business and budget, and provides coverage for employees, too.

Employees aren’t the only party vulnerable to identity theft. Criminals steal business identities too, and these crimes often net them more money with far less effort.

Discuss your coverage with us so we can help you close any insurance gaps. Gilbert’s Risk Solutions has protected businesses for over 160 years. We’re local and reliable and easy to talk to, so contact us to discuss your cyber risks and possible solutions.

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