Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, remote work was increasing in popularity among employers and employees alike. But in the wake of the pandemic, remote and hybrid work models have become the norm for more businesses than ever before. According to a study conducted by HR consulting firm, Mercer, 70 percent of U.S. employers are turning to a hybrid work model where employees can alternate between going to a physical office and working from home. It’s a more convenient setup that protects employees from being potentially exposed to the virus. However, remote work also poses a workplace threat that is often overlooked — the risk of exposure to identity theft.

It’s time to take identity theft protection seriously

Identity theft has been a stealthy threat to the workplace for a very long time now, and one that has been affecting employees’ morale and productivity. In fact, the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) reported that a third of identity theft victims experienced a variety of stress and hardships as a result of the crime. And this was back in 2017 — before the pandemic added additional stress and risk to employees’ lives.

Today, the number of identity theft cases is rising at a staggering rate. More than 45 percent of Americans have experienced identity theft. Along with the fact that social media platforms have become a haven for identity theft, the workplace — which is increasingly connected to the web and other online mediums, even for employees working from a traditional office — is exposed to this crime as well. 

Identity theft affects employees in more ways than one

Becoming the victim of identity theft is not a problem that can be solved overnight. Instead, it is likely to eat up a lot of time, effort, and resources, all of which could distract your employee, greatly reduce their productivity, and add unneeded stress to their life. As a company that sincerely cares for its employees, protecting them from identity theft is a great way to support their mental and physical well-being. And the first step towards doing that is to be aware of how identity theft will negatively affect their lives and the people around them.

Identity theft will cost your employees money

Money is the central focus of identity theft. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that credit card fraud was behind the highest number of identity theft cases, with 271,000 cases reported in 2019. Moreover, the money lost from identity theft cases saw a sharp increase in 2020 — the year when the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to a report created by the Aite Group, losses from identity theft have increased by 42 percent in 2020, or from $502.5 billion in 2019 to $712.4 billion the following year.

You may be thinking that identity theft does not always lead to financial loss, but that is only partly true. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that two-thirds of people who fell victim to identity theft reported financial losses as a result of the crime. This is the primary reason why more employees are seeking identity theft protection as a benefit in employment, as this privilege gives them a much-needed assurance that their financial resources are in safe hands.

Identity theft could cause emotional distress

Identity theft often has a lasting impact on the victim, especially when the case is not quickly resolved. One of these long-term negative effects is emotional distress. In 2019, the Bureau of Justice reported that 10 percent of identity theft victims that year have experienced severe emotional distress.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Victim Research, only 42 percent of victims of identity fraud were able to resolve their issues within a day. This means that more than half of the victims had to go through days, weeks, or even months of worrying about their identity and other personal information. In fact, 10 percent of identity theft victims spent 130 hours or more trying to resolve their case, with 3 percent of them saying that they still experienced issues with their personal data 6 months later. 

Even when the case is already resolved, an identity theft victim could still have trauma or anxiety as a result of having their privacy breached and their finances threatened. Having identity theft protection in place before disaster strikes is a great way to help your employees avoid both the financial and emotional side effects of becoming a victim of a cybercriminal.

Identity theft will decrease your employees’ productivity at work

Identity theft victims experience emotional distress and mental health problems, and these often lead to more physical health problems as well. As a result of what is often called the “fraud trauma syndrome,” victims of identity theft could have trouble sleeping, which in turn lead to bouts of headaches, fatigue, and loss of energy. The various physical, emotional, and mental effects of identity theft will often strip victims of their ability to function normally and accomplish tasks that they usually do. They will also likely have a compounding negative impact on their productivity in the workplace.

Unhappy employees, especially those who are dealing with heavy personal problems, will not be as productive in their work as they are usually are. Their decreased productivity — especially if they are left dealing with the fallout of identity theft over a long period of time — could prove to be costly. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace study, “actively disengaged employees” cost businesses in the U.S. almost half a billion dollars every year. It’s also worth taking note that this negative trend affects every kind of business, from small-time businesses to medium enterprises to big corporations.

On the other hand, happy employees tend to be more engaged and more productive. In a 700-person experiment by the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy and the Social Market Foundation, it was discovered that happy employees exhibit an average increase in productivity of 12 percent, and as high as 20 percent. There is a direct correlation between happiness and productivity, and this is something that you can’t ignore as an employer. 

If you have an employee who has recently fallen victim to identity theft, it’s likely that he or she will be unhappy and disengaged at work. Avoiding a problem in the first place is always better than damage control.

Providing identity theft protection will also protect your company

Identity theft protection is still an uncommon benefit in the workplace, but that should not undermine its unique value. When you include it as one of the benefit options when hiring an employee, you’re sending a message that says you’re willing to take new, specific avenues to protect your employees and safeguard their future. Often, the benefits that employees value the most are the ones that help them to protect their health and well-being now and in the future, as well as that of their families. Offering identity theft protection is one way to assure them that you care about their physical and mental health, as well as their financial futures.

Furthermore, this is an affordable benefit option that could help your company avoid larger expenses. When one of your employees experience identity theft, you’ll not only be left dealing with a loss of productivity; your business may suffer more directly, as well. If an employee’s device or accounts are compromised, any company data or passwords they had access to may also be at risk. This could lead to even bigger problems when it’s your company that is exposed. 

Choose the right identity theft protection for your employees

Identity theft is a threat that’s only set to increase in coming years — and the shift towards more permanent work-from-home arrangements is only putting employees more at risk. According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of employees say that they still want to stay in a work-from-home setup, even in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote work setting almost always makes use of different kinds of online platforms, putting employees at greater risk of becoming the victim of identity theft. That’s why now is the right time for your company to safeguard your employees’ personal data by offering them the identity theft protection plan that is best suited to their needs. To make things even better, LifeLock regularly offers coupons for discount rates.

For companies who are searching the market for the right identity theft protection to for their employees, investing in LifeLock is an effective and affordable choice. LifeLock does not just combat identity theft on the spot; they are also the best in staying ahead of identity thieves and cybercriminals. LifeLock offers a number of essential services in their identity theft protection plan, including financial activity alerts, data breach notifications, annual credit reports and credit scores, fictitious identity monitoring, and court records scanning.

On top of all these features, LifeLock also extends 24/7 live member support and a million-dollar protection package. Trust LifeLock to protect your employees from identity theft, and receive up to 25 percent off in your first year!