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Protect Your Employees — And Yourself— From Identity Theft

By J. Lombardi | April 21, 2014

If you’ve been hired at any point since Nov. 6, 1986, you were required by U.S. law to provide proof
of your eligibility to work in this country through an I-9 form. The form requires the employee’s name (including maiden name), address, date of birth, social security number and eMail address (if they have one). Employees are required by law to provide this information no later than the first day of their hire.

It’s also all the information a thief needs to hijack their identity.

The statistics are almost unbelievable. Fifteen million Americans have their identities stolen each year, with an average loss of $ 3,500 each. That is $50 billion annually and growing. Seven out of every 100 Americans will be victimized by this crime annually. Identity theft is now believed to be the most frequent, costly and
pervasive crime in the U.S. today.

How are thieves getting this information? By targeting organizations that have your personal
information. Just about everybody has it — your government, bank, school,employer, doctor, merchant, utility companies and brokerage firms, to name a few. How the thieves get your data is a novel in itself, but from bribes to hacking to dumpster diving to stumbling on an unprotected laptop, they are getting this data every day.

Employee Protection Is Critical

How can you as the employer, who is required to keep this information, protect yourself and your

• Keep all manual employee records under lock and key. A locked filing cabinet
behind a locked door is not overkill. You are required to keep a hard copy of
the I-9 form, and most employers have a hard copy of all payroll information.
Secure that information and limit it to just the people who need access to it.

• Regardless of whether you are doing payroll in-house or online, make sure
only your accountant, bookkeeper and/or the owners have access to this part of
your system. Only a very limited number of people need access to payroll.

• Develop a strict policy regarding logging out of either an in-house or
on-line payroll system if your employees step away from their desks. The policy
should also outline the company procedures when a violation takes place.

• Make sure your employees change their passwords to the payroll system just
like they do in the POS system. Every 90 days is a reasonable policy.

• Consistently enforce policies and procedures.

• Regularly review and revise existing policies to ensure all necessary policy
changes and additions have been addressed. Include a review of securing
sensitive data at year end or as part of your PCI compliance review.

• Ensure your company has an internal incident response plan and the
appropriate resources in-house to handle an incident of employee information or
corporate data loss or access by unauthorized employees or outsiders.

If a company has its customers and employees data stolen, hacked or lost, the business is legally
obligated to notify person(s) affected by a data breach. In addition, the business could be sued by customers or employees because their personal information has been compromised.

That brings us to one more recommendation worthy of each owner’s consideration. Many insurance
companies now offer protection against these types of data breaches — for a “small” fee. The coverage varies with each insurance carrier but, in general, it should do the following:

1. Pay expenses to notify affected persons

2. Provide identity restoration services to them

3. Defend the business against lawsuits resulting from a data breach

4. Help restore the business’ own identity

Check with your insurance agent on the particulars of what they can offer. But with Target and
Neiman Marcus reeling from their breaches, a little extra insurance might not be a bad idea.

How Employees Can Protect Themselves

1. Never carry your social security number on any documents in your purse or wallet. Most states
now allow you to remove your social security number on your driver’s license. Not a single item in your purse or wallet should contain your social security number.

2. Lock your mailbox and be sure to stop mail when you’re out of town for more than a few days.

3. Shred your trash with a cross cut shredder.

4. Be careful what you say about yourself in public, especially when you’re on your cell phone.

5. Protect your personal computer with a firewall, anti-virus software or a program that removes spyware.

6. Don’t answer e-mails that request your personal information via eMail from your bank or favorite merchant. These types of scams are legendary, but people still fall prey to them. An eMail with your bank’s logo and a reasonable return eMail address is no assurance that you aren’t being scammed.

7. Never provide personal information, unless you are positive to whom you are giving it. The sophistication level of professional identity thieves involved in organized crime continues to grow, along with the methods they develop.

As the methods used to perform identity theft expand, so do the types of accounts and services
being stolen by identity thieves. Credit, debit, checking and saving accounts are no longer the only targets. Identity fraud has grown to include theft of cell and landline phone service; cable and satellite television service; power, water, gas and electric service; Internet payment service; medical insurance; home mortgages and rental housing; automobile, boat and other forms of financing and loans; and government benefits. Identity thieves will also use stolen identities to obtain employment and to deceive police when arrested.
Quite simply, every individual or business is vulnerable to attack when it comes to personal or corporate information,
products and services. Protect yourself!


You can read actual article here:

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