Magazine article Risk Management

Identity Theft: Helping Employees Find Themselves

Magazine article Risk Management

Identity Theft: Helping Employees Find Themselves

Article excerpt

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are now more than 10 million identity theft victims in the United States each year, costing the country upwards of $50 billion. For each victim, it takes between 30 to 60 hours to clear his or her name, which often means growing old on the phone with government officials, credit agencies and lawyers, and filing enough paperwork to kill a small forest. Recently, we sat down with Sheryl Christenson, CEO of the Scottsdale, Arizona-based restoration company Identity Theft 911, to talk about the problem.

How does someone typically become a victim of identity theft?

What we see most often are victims who have had a lost or stolen wallet or handbag, a break-in, or a theft by a family member or trusted person who has access to information. We also continue to see victims who have responded to phishing e-mails. We deal with a number of victims who have had their personal information compromised and used through a database compromise or security breach. We are also seeing an increase in victimization through employees taking co-workers information or accessing human resources files.

How can companies help employees if they are victimized?

The most effective thing a business can do is be certain that appropriate security measures and protocols are in place--and followed--for handling payroll records and personnel files. Businesses should look at who has access to that data and should be conducting background checks on those employees who work with sensitive information. We are seeing more and more situations where theft of employee information is coming from within a business.

Companies should limit the number of people who have access to employee data. Not everyone who thinks they need access truly needs access. Proper file storage and destruction of employee information is also critical. Businesses must establish standards and procedures for employee data, just as they do for customer data.

What types of insurance is available to deal with identity theft?

Numerous insurance companies now offer identity theft advocacy service and reimbursement endorsements attached, primarily, to home and auto policies. We currently provide restoration services to the policyholders of more than 100 insurance companies such as MetLife, Chubb, Amica, Pemco, Motorists, One Beacon, Hanover, Liberty Mutual, Armed Forces Insurance, Fireman's Fund and Island Insurance. …

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