If you’re reading this, chances are you were affected by the 2017 Equifax breach. And if you’re employed, that likelihood increases to around 80 percent. In total, nearly 150 million Americans had their personal data compromised.

Now, many of these victims find themselves completely unprotected.

Equifax initially offered a subscription to TrustedID Premier, a credit monitoring service. However, that offer expired on January 31 — and with it, the limited protection Equifax temporarily granted victims.

Let’s take a closer look at what the bureau’s decision means for those affected, and what this means for the businesses who employ them. 

How does Equifax’s decision impact victims?

Denied mortgages. Fraudulent loans. Stolen tax refunds.

These are just a few of the issues faced by victims of the Equifax breach. And unfortunately, the fallout may be far from over. Unlike the temporary credit monitoring Equifax offered, there is no expiration date for identity theft. Often, thieves wait years before fully exploiting stolen data.

There are also immediate issues victims need to contend with following Equifax’s move to drop complimentary monitoring. If a victim used TrustedID Premier to lock their Equifax credit report, those locks were automatically lifted when the service expired on January 31. Making matters worse, many victims don’t realize they’ll need to relock their accounts.

The truth about “credit monitoring”

In reality, the protection offered by Equifax left victims vulnerable to several forms of identity theft.

That’s because TrustedID Premier functioned primarily as a traditional credit monitoring service, with a few exceptions: It offered the Equifax Credit Report Lock, an insurance policy, and a Social Security Number Monitoring feature.

Traditional credit monitoring tools leave breach victims susceptible to risks of our digital era. While there are many reasons why these services fall short of being an identity protection benefit, here are a few possible shortcomings:

  • No robust privacy protection tools

  • Alerts that aren’t real time

  • No active search of the dark web

  • If the service is free, it may sell users’ personal data to credit card companies and other lenders

  • No monitoring of social media for signs of hijacking

  • If identity theft insurance is offered, it’s often limited

  • No alerts for non–credit based account changes

  • No notifying users of risky financial transactions

However, the biggest problem may be that traditional credit monitoring services simply alert victims that a problem exists. They do very little, if anything, to actively help users solve problems.

Why should companies protect their employees’ identities?

With Equifax offering limited protection to victims, and a sharp rise in traditional and synthetic identity theft, there’s an urgent need to act. HR professionals are well equipped to tackle these risks — especially considering the challenges their companies may face.

By offering a quality identity protection benefit, organizations can help safeguard their greatest assets: people. This isn’t the only upside. When a business offers employees identity protection, it’s simultaneously protecting the bottom line. While there are many possible financial blows caused by identity theft, two of the most prominent are potential litigation and employee disengagement.

Limiting potential litigation

With around half of all cases of identity theft originating in the workplace, it’s no wonder courts are increasingly holding companies accountable. By proactively offering employees identity protection, an organization sends a clear signal: We are committed to protecting employee privacy. This commitment also comes into play when courts decide whether a business has been reckless with employee data.

Reducing employee disengagement

Without a quality identity protection benefit, it can take hundreds of hours and more than six months for a victim to achieve full identity restoration. Employee disengagement is a significant threat to companies. According to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace report, disengaged employees may lead to:

  • 20 percent lower sales

  • 17 percent less productivity

  • 21 percent lower profitability

  • Between 24 and 59 percent higher turnover

  • 70 percent more employee safety incidents

A quality identity protection benefit offers access to a team of certified advocates to help employees quickly and thoroughly restore their identities. This allows your employees to focus on what really matters — their jobs.

If you’re looking for an identity protection benefit that’s designed specifically for employees and their employers, we hope you consider PrivacyArmor®, the most comprehensive employee identity protection benefit.