Employers can play a role in employee data breaches and identity theft

Register now

In light of recent major data breaches affecting hundreds of millions of Americans, a feeling of security among employees can be hard to come by. The massive Equifax break in can make it seem like identity theft and fraud are almost inevitable.

The majority of Americans in a recent survey hadn’t checked to see if they were one of the victims of the Equifax data breach. Perhaps they’re thinking, “What’s the point if it’s going to happen anyway?”

Or maybe it’s because, as another survey done after the Equifax breach found, people aren’t aware of what they can do about potential fraud. Of people that didn’t activate a credit freeze, which is a first line of defense in light of breaches, 37 percent said it was because they weren’t aware it was possible or didn’t know how to do it.

Employees need more education about how to handle these situations — and they need the right people on their side to deal with it as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The good news is there are voluntary benefits employers can offer to their employees to help them deal with identity theft. Beyond credit monitoring services that focus more on the front end of helping protect people’s identities, there are identity restoration services that connect people to professionals who can help them.

If employees are concerned about a breach or have discovered that they are a victim of fraud or theft, they can call a specialist who will work with them to restore their identity with lenders, credit bureaus, the state, county courts and more. This service can walk employees through the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze, figure out whether a situation calls for one or both of them and then help put the right one(s) in place.

When you consider that the average amount of time spent resolving fraud for a victim is eight hours but can be as much as 130 hours, having someone there to do the legwork for your employees could help them get back to work and restore their lost productivity.

The legal side of identity theft

Employees might not realize that if they’re a victim of identity theft, under federal law they’re entitled to restitution — monetary compensation for not only the damage but also the time spent trying to fix the damage. Some states have similar laws as well. To fully understand their rights, identity theft victims should consult with an attorney.

The bottom line? You and your employees don’t need to feel helpless when it comes to data breaches. No one wants to deal with identity theft, but it’s becoming more and more of a reality every day. With the right voluntary benefits in place, you can make that reality a little less stressful for your employees.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Data breaches Benefit management Benefit strategies Employee communications Benefit communication