Every year, as much as 10 percent of the population are victims of identity theft, according to the Center for Victim Research. That’s one out of every 10 Americans every year. And, to make matters worse, about 21 percent of those people experience multiple incidents, ranging from credit card and tax fraud to utility fraud, employment imposter scams, and more.
The cost to recover from these events can tally in the thousands — and that’s not including the mental and emotional toll, time off work addressing these issues, and other ripple impacts identity theft has on victims’ lives.
And if that’s not enough to bum you out, here’s some more bad news: we’re in the midst of a data-breach epidemic, and there’s no sign of a cure.
So it’s no surprise that professionals have begun ranking the need for identity theft protection alongside health insurance and vacation days. Today, it’s a necessity.
But, as an employer, is it worth it to invest in this benefit? The answer is a resounding “yes!” and here’s why:
It’s [Still] a Candidate’s Market
Despite a pandemic-driven economic turndown that cost millions of jobs, many industries are still considered a candidate’s market — meaning top talent has the upper hand.
While COVID-19 robbed the economy of more than 22 million jobs since it began in early 2020, more than half of those jobs have been restored, according to data shared by the New York Times. And although we still have a long way to go, the vaccination ramp-up and relatively healthy stock market bode well for a swift recovery.
What does all of this mean for you? As an employer, you should prepare to do whatever you need to attract and retain top talent. (This is especially true in sections of the tech, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors, where we still see significant skills gaps.) And attracting hard-to-win professionals means giving them what they want. For more than half of employees surveyed in the LegalShield Workplace Study, identify theft protection is one of those wants.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock. Identify theft is scary and can quickly unravel an employee’s entire financial situation. The peace of mind that accompanies knowing you have high-quality monitoring and other preventative measures in place is priceless. Offering this as a perk of the job shows candidates you care about their wellbeing.
An Employee’s Identify Theft Can Become an Employer’s Loss
But there’s more to offering identity theft protection than simply making employees feel good. A secure workforce also mitigates your risk as an organization too.
Account takeover (ATO) is one of the leading causes of identity theft, and ATO incidents shot up 20 percentage points in December 2020, compared to 2021, according to data from Kaspersky, and accounted for more than half of all fraud-related incidents last year. We only expect this to worsen as we move more and more of our work and lives online. (And as we continue working remotely or in hybrid models.)
Of course, when cybercriminals seize sensitive employee data, it’s only a matter of time before they make their way into your systems by taking over an employee’s account. In fact, that may have been their intent all along — which is why we often see hackers explicitly targeting those in leadership positions and employees working for high-profile companies.
Currently, ATO costs the U.S. billions of dollars, and it’s on the rise. Worse, traditional protective measures (like firewalls and antivirus) won’t do much to prevent them. When someone can accurately impersonate an employee because they have access to virtually all of their most important information, they have carte blanche to wreak whatever havoc they please — attacking the victim’s personal finances as well as their employer’s most valuable assets.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that good cyber hygiene at home often translates into good cyber hygiene at work (and vice versa). When employees are educated and engaged in preventative habits in their personal lives, they’re more likely to carry those same habits into work and are also more mindful of how careless behaviors can impact themselves and their employer. Investing in identity theft protection with an educational component will support a culture of security and help reduce risks across the board.
Identity theft isn’t going anywhere except up. If you’re fortunate enough not to have become the victim of an attack, you should consider yourself lucky — and also remember it’s likely only a matter of time before you or one of your employees joins the millions of Americans who’ve had their identity stolen. By acting now to protect your employees, you’ll not only help attract top talent, but you’ll also potentially save your organization millions of dollars.