The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that over 13.1 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. As a result, they are left unable to use their credit cards, obtain new loans and, in some cases, are subject to criminal investigations for crimes they did not commit. Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America today, and it can cost the victim a significant amount of time and money as they try to repair their name and credit.
As business increasingly moves online, the risk of identity theft will only continue to grow. Identity theft occurs when personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, or credit card numbers are obtained without permission. Once thieves obtain this information, they can use existing credit cards or open new ones to make purchases under the victim’s name. If the theft is not immediately recognized and reported the victim’s credit could be tarnished for some time before they even realize it. Therefore, we created a guide to help you educate yourself and your employees on identity theft.
Preventing Identity Theft In The Workplace.
Severity Of Identity Theft
A recent report by IBM revealed that a data breach resulting in stolen identities has an average cost of $3.85 million for the average organization and it takes an average of 280 days for organizations to notice in the first place. Along with stolen personal and financial information of employees, clients, and third-party partners, identity theft can be detrimental to an organization in three other ways:
- Financial Loss: This includes the expenses of recovering from a data breach, making ransomware payments, compensating victims, and increase in insurance premiums. Protecting against identity theft is essential to your business as it can save your company thousands of dollars in potential costs and losses.
- Ruined Reputation: After a cyber-attack has occurred, it’s difficult to rebuild that trust internally and externally. Rebuilding trust with partners, employees, and the general public takes lots of time, money, and energy.
- Business Impact: No matter if you run a school, health care clinic, or law firm, the impact that identity theft has on your business is immense. There is a loss of confidential and intellectual property, the cost of rebuilding network infrastructure, legal complications, and the loss of future business opportunities.
Since many people fail to connect cyber attacks as real-world problems, you need to remind your employees what identity theft would mean to them on a personal level. For example, identity thieves can use their identity to accumulate credit card charges, take out loans, transfer funds to different accounts, sign a lease under the victim’s name, or collect government benefits owed to the victim.
Methods Of Theft
According to the FTC, 1 in 8 Americans have experienced identity theft in the last 5 years. Therefore, it’s important to highlight methods of identity theft to prevent it from happening to yourself or your employees. Here are some common identity theft techniques to look out for:
- Phishing: This is when thieves send emails or pop-ups that appear to be from your credit card company. They will usually ask you to click a link and provide information related to your account. They may even go far enough to threaten you with severe consequences for not cooperating. Be wary of any and all emails from credit card companies or banks as they could be a scam.
- Shoulder Surfing: This type of attack can happen anytime you use a device that requires a password or pin, for example at the ATM. The thief will attempt to get close enough to see you input sensitive information such as your password or pin number. To prevent this from happening, be aware of your surroundings anytime you access accounts with sensitive information.
- Pretexting: Quite possibly the most effective way to steal identities, pretexting is when a thief has done prior research on your personal information and will use it against you as bait to get more information. For example, a schemer can gather your full name, phone number, and address to make you believe that they actually work for a bank. Once that trust is established, many people let their guard down and give away their information.
Identity Theft Coverage
While identity theft insurance does not protect against the actual monetary theft, it does cover the costs victims will incur while they are building their identity. The coverage may include phone call and photocopying charges, postage fees for mailing documents, salary loss due to uncompensated time away from work, legal fees, and access to a fraud specialist who can assist in restoring good credit. Since victims may spend a considerable amount of time recovering from identity theft, these services can make the situation less stressful, both on the mind and the pocketbook.
To minimize the risk of identity theft, the FTC recommends taking the following precautions:
- Check your home mailbox daily, and drop your outgoing mail into a secure U.S. postal mailbox only.
- Since fewer credit card solicitations in your mailbox mean fewer opportunities for theft, you can opt out by calling 888-567-8688.
- Carry only what you need in your wallet or purse, and leave your Social Security card at home in a safe, secure place.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles, as identity thieves may change your billing address on your credit cards, so late bills may indicate a problem.
- Give out your personal information on a need-to-know basis and to legitimate businesses only.
Taking these precautionary measures will ensure your identity is protected so you don’t have to go through the headache of restoring your credit.
Stay A Step Ahead
After reading about identity theft and how it can negatively affect your organization/employees, it’s important to spread awareness to your workforce. Educating them further protects your organization in the case of a cyber attack or data breach. Employers sponsoring an identity theft insurance plan can purchase this coverage for their employees or offer it as an employee funded option on their regular benefits package. For more information on this coverage or anything related to identity theft, please make sure to contact us today via our website or by calling us at (727)772-4200.