On the Job Hunt? Ask for Identity Theft Protection
By Tom Kelly - Article on December 13, 2017
- Cyber Security
- Data Privacy
- Identity Theft and Fraud
- Employee Benefits
It seems like not a week goes by without some news of a cybersecurity incident. Just this week, Equifax leadership was investigated by Congress after the company sustained a massive data breach affecting 144 million Americans. And if that weren’t enough of a shock, Yahoo recently admitted that a data breach from 2012 affected 3 billion accounts – not just the 1 billion the company originally thought were hacked in 2016.
If you’re worried, you’re not alone. A Pew survey from the beginning of this year found that almost half of Americans think their personal data is far less secure than it was five years ago – numbers that, in light of recent news, have probably skyrocketed. And if you’ve been hacked, you’re also not alone. The same Pew study found that the well over half of Americans have experienced some kind of data theft, including fake credit card charges (over four in ten) and stolen social security number (over one in ten).
The events of the past few weeks have made it obvious that breaches are not so much a question of “if” as a question of “when.” How can you minimize the threat to your sensitive information and deal with any damage that may arise as quickly and effectively as possible?
The answer, it turns out, may come when you decide to make your next career move. Increasingly, companies are offering identity protection services as a benefit to their employees in addition to more standard benefits like health care and retirement planning. A study conducted by Willis Towers Watson found that while 35 percent of employers provided identity theft protection in 2015, that number was likely to rise to around 70 percent by 2018.
While this might seem like an unnecessary added financial burden, it’s actually one of the smartest moves a company can make. If a bad actor gets a hold of social security numbers or a birthday, they can use it for credit card and tax fraud. The time and energy it takes an employee to recover from this theft – sometimes taking weeks and even months – is time and energy the employer loses. It’s an investment that actually winds up helping the company in the long run.
Most of us don’t currently think to ask about or consider this issue when we’re on the job hunt. But it will only grow more important in the coming years. As more aspects our lives go digital, we’re creating a larger pool of data for thieves to exploit. An identity theft protection package can help navigate the difficulties of recovering stolen information – not to mention recuperating the costs, which in 2014 averaged at well over $1,000 per person.
When asking if a company provides these services, however, it’s important to make sure that they’re offering comprehensive coverage. Merely offering financial identity theft protection, such as credit monitoring services, is ultimately insufficient. There are other, far more sinister kinds of identity theft that can threaten not merely your personal finances, but your criminal record and your medical records. Comprehensive coverage will take into account most, if not all, of the nine kinds of identity theft (financial, child, social security, driver’s license, criminal, employment, insurance, synthetic and medical identity theft) and ensure that you receive protection across all fronts.
And ultimately, the kind of company that offers identity recovery services is the kind of company you want to be working for. It indicates a proactive, forward-thinking approach that takes not just current and present but future and potential risk into account. When a company fails to adopt best cybersecurity practices, they leave themselves open for the kind of big, brand-destroying breach that can impact not just company leadership, but employees and as well. Firms that have already decided to invest in protecting their employees’ data are far more likely to be the kind of firms that protect their own data, so that even when a breach does occur, they’re likely to handle it well.
For their part, employers should take steps to improving company cybersecurity. This means investing in identity theft protection services for your employees, but it also means ensuring that you’re using good digital hygiene practices around the office. Go ahead and spend the money on comprehensive security software. Require that employees have different passwords for different accounts, and require an annual password update across all accounts. Use two-factor authentication on employee devices, and educate workers on how to recognize phishing attempts and other cyberattack methods.
Companies that invest in identity protection services are companies that are invested in their employees in a holistic sense – both as workers and as individuals. Until recently, that meant offering a fair amount of vacation time and a strong medical insurance plan. But in our connected world, it means being invested not only in physical and personal well-being, but also in digital well-being. It is not asking for too much to expect this kind of protection, and it’s not offering to much to supply it. It’s simply a way of ensuring that a company is equipping workers to be the best, most effective employees they are capable of being.