By Tiffany Stiller
Over the past few years, there has been increasing talk of changing employee expectations when it comes to benefits. Most employers accept that attracting and retaining talent takes a compelling benefits offering that goes beyond basic healthcare. Ancillary offerings like vision and dental are often expected, so how can today’s employer create a more complete benefits offering that speaks to modern needs and expectations? Enter identity theft protection.
Identity theft is a very real problem worldwide. It affects millions of people and costs billions of dollars each year. By offering identity theft protection as a benefit, employers can demonstrate a genuine concern for their employees’ financial security and wellbeing.
The Statistics on Identity Theft are Alarming
Ten years ago, identity theft protection wasn’t even on the employee benefits radar. Even five years ago, it wasn’t common. But today, offering identity theft protection as a benefit can give employees peace of mind and provide them with actionable steps to take in the event their personal information is compromised.
Risk of identity theft has grown largely due to the ubiquitous use of consumer data portals. Despite the risks, many consumers create weak passwords and reuse them across multiple portals. Plus, not all companies have good data security practices, leaving customer data vulnerable to malicious actors.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) — sensitive information that can be used to identify a unique individual, such as Social Security Numbers, full names, and financial information–is valuable to malicious actors because it can be used to open new lines of credit, enable tax or healthcare fraud, and support other illegal activities. According to McAfee’s A Guide to Identity Theft Statistics for 2023, the most common type of identity theft was government documents/benefits fraud, which soared during the pandemic.
According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection:
- Identity theft costs Americans $5.8 billion annually.
- 5.7 million incidents of fraud and identity thefts were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2022.
- Scams resulting from identity theft resulted in more than $3 billion in losses.
- Between 2020 and 2022, related fraud cases increased 70%.
Chances are that many of your clients’ employees have had personal experiences with identity theft. Anyone who has had a credit card number stolen knows the hassle and worry of disputing fraudulent charges, getting their card reissued, and updating their recurring payments to the new card. And that is a fairly simple and limited example of identity theft.
How Identity Theft Protection Works
Like all employee benefits, identity theft protection plans run the gamut from basic to comprehensive. A basic plan consists of credit report monitoring complete with alerts letting subscribers know that someone has either opened or attempted to open a new line of credit using their information.
More comprehensive plans are also available and include a wider range of proactive and reactive services, such as:
- Monitoring wireless and retail transactions
- Monitoring consumer loans (mortgages, alt loans, etc.)
- Certified credit restoration services
- Legal representation
- Identity theft insurance
Regarding the last option, identity theft insurance makes a cash payout to cover any financial losses experienced by a covered victim. Covered expenses usually include those incurred to restore the person’s credit.
A Low-Cost, High-Impact Voluntary Benefit
Every American adult could benefit from identity theft protection. So how do you start the conversation with your clients? Positioning identity theft protection as a low-cost voluntary benefit.
The nature of voluntary benefits is such that employers can either contribute to the cost of providing them, shift the entire cost to employees, or pay for the entire benefit themselves. Regardless of the choice, identity theft protection is a relatively inexpensive benefit compared to health insurance premiums and retirement plan contributions. Your clients get a good return on their investment in terms of employee goodwill.
If your clients are interested–and even if they are skeptical–it’s also worth noting that identity theft is a high-impact benefit. Financial fraud and identity theft are crimes that can turn lives upside down for many years. Identity theft protection is a low-cost option that can help employees quickly spot problems and address issues before they become catastrophic. And should the worst occur, comprehensive plans can help employees restore their credit and obtain restitution.
In terms of modern, voluntary benefits that make a company more competitive, identity theft protection is a clear winner.
Tiffany Stiller has been with the Carrier Relations team at BenefitMall since 1999, and was named Vice President of Carrier Relations in 2004. In her current role, Stiller is responsible for negotiating carrier contracts and maintaining strong relationships with BenefitMall’s carrier partners nationwide. She also heads up the BenefitMall Individual & Senior Division (ISD).