How Employers Can Contribute to Identity Theft

If You Become the Victim of Identity Theft, Blame it on Your Employer!

Employers often unknowingly contribute to identity theft by standard practices that present a risk for their employees. It’s a sad but unfortunate reality that you might become the victim of identity theft simply because your employer is too lenient in guarding sensitive information such as the social security numbers of their employees.

Can We Institute Some Common-Sense Practices?

Some employers use social security numbers for employee ID numbers. The social security number was never intended to be used to identify people. While you can refrain from giving a car salesman your social security number, it’s hard to do that with an employer. If you don’t give your social security number to your employer, you won’t get paid! There’s little point in going to work if you will be doing it for free; after all, you likely work because you need the paycheck. If your employer refuses to get creative with devising a way to identify employees without relying on their social security numbers, you might be the unfortunate victim of identity theft.

You Let Who See What?

Another routine practice that many employers do that can seriously increase your risk of identity theft is allowing temporary employees to have access to personal records. If I were unscrupulous and wanted to steal someone’s identity, I think I would only work for temp agencies. It’s often been jokingly said that secretaries are the gatekeepers to a business organization. That might be true, but it seems like some companies have given the temp employees the golden key.

A Frustrating Situation

You would hope and expect as an employee that any of the confidential information you provide to your employer would not be widely available to just anyone. Considering some routine practices that many employers allow to occur, they might as well post your social security number on the company website for the entire world to see. This can be particularly frustrating to individuals who are diligent about safeguarding their personal information to reduce the likelihood that they will become a victim of identity theft.

If you feel your employer isn’t doing enough to protect your personal information, ask to schedule a meeting with the head of human resources. If you volunteer to head up an identity-theft awareness team so the company can implement new policies, they may be more willing to make the necessary changes.

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