A Productivity Program That Pays for Itself: Identity Theft Protection

By now, everyone has heard about Identity Theft or perhaps knows someone who has been a victim. While we consider the alarming statistics about this epidemic-like crime and wonder when it will target us – and how we will resolve the situation when it does – pro-active employers are taking steps now to protect their employees from Identity Theft and at the same time, increase their company’s productivity and liability protection.For a victim of identity theft, the impact is not only felt through their credit accounts and computer security. The most daunting aspect of ID theft is resolution. According to the non-profit Theft Resource Center, the average amount of time it takes a person to address an ID theft incident averages 330 hours – the equivalent of 8 work weeks. Since the agencies that need to be contacted in the course of ID theft resolution keep office hours similar to other businesses, victims must necessarily take time from their duties at work to call, fax, email and otherwise interface with these agencies, banks, credit card companies, etc. – all of this adding up to lost hours in the workplace.Independent studies have indicated that around 48% of employees take time of work for legal related problems in any 12 month period. The amount of time taken from work solving these problems is an average of 51.5 hours per year. As the average hourly wage approaches $24.00 per hour, those lost hours represent a cost of $1,236 to the employer for each employee. When the total statistics of annual identity theft are compiled through the national data, the US is experiencing more than 3 billion hours lost in the form of personal days or workday distractions.Since most of the independent research shows that the majority of Identity Theft takes place in offline contexts – paper records, open file drawers, overheard conversations – pro-active employers are now taking action to fully protect not only their employees, but their own business, customers, vendors and other stakeholders. The solution is remarkably cost-effective and actually pays many dividends for human resources departments and the employees they serve while preventing lost work-hour productivity for the employer.Identity Theft Protection as a Voluntary BenefitAccording to Business and Legal Reports, “…an affirmative defense against potential fines, fees and lawsuits is to offer some sort of identity theft protection as an employee benefit. An employer can choose whether or not to pay for this benefit. The key is to make the protection available, and have a mandatory employee meeting on identity theft and the protection being made available, similar to what most companies do for health insurance…”(Jan ’06)In his book, The Silent Crime – What You Need to Know about Identity Theft, authors Michael McCoy and Steffan Schmidt write about the benefits of employee Identity Theft protection programs and specifically, about the ID Theft and Legal Services Plan offered by Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. and their ID Theft and Restoration partner, Kroll Fraud Solutions, “…the service provided by Pre-Paid Legal… is clearly the 800 pound gorilla in the room on ID theft protection. It would be our recommendation to upper-management and Human Resource Directors to add such a product to the benefit package. Not only would this make a person a more loyal employee, it would save the employer from losing productivity during the weeks and months that employees with identity theft problems are preoccupied with fixing their problems.”When employees experience a breach of their identity security, the employer is now protected as well because the employees won’t be spending time and money dealing with situation. The employer is protected as well if an employee declines protections and subsequently is a victim of ID theft, because the employer has signed documentation that the employee declined coverage.The overall effect of Identity Theft protection is diminished if the protective coverage does not include restoration to pre-theft status. Without this restorative clause, employees will still be spending time and money resolving their credit and identity issues.The best form of Identity Theft protection should include:
Monitoring of all Credit Activity
Monitoring of Personal Information Databases i.e., DMV, SSA, MIB, Post Office, etc.
Monitoring of Minor’s Identity – since all children have Social Security numbers
Restoration of Credit and Identity records to Pre-theft status – acting on behalf of victimsAbout 4 out of 10 people report experiencing identity theft or know someone who has. Nearly 9 in 10 consumers would consider purchasing ID Theft Protection Services. The rapid expansion of identity theft makes it nearly certain, as does the ease and low cost with which protection can be added. Employers can create a safer atmosphere at the workplace, increase productivity through the reduction of lost work hours and provide an opportunity for employees to secure themselves from potentially disastrous circumstances by tackling this issue proactively.