News & Resources

Office identity theft becoming major worry

May 07, 2012 Philip Burgess

The daily schedule of many members of the workforce includes traveling to their place of their employment, completing assigned duties, interacting with co-workers and leaving. Most repeat this five days a week without giving much thought to what sinister dealings could be going on behind the scenes, that is until they are approached by a debt collection agent asking for payments on a purchase they didn't make. While it may be easy to trust colleagues, it may not always be the safest thing. It is becoming increasingly more common for individuals to be duped by their co-workers or other acquaintances they frequently interact with who are seeking fast cash opportunities. Associates at the Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis law firm reported employer records are among the most often documents used to steal someone's identity. Workplaces hold a large amount of sensitive employee data whether on the computer or in storage containers. According to the source, employers often retain records including data such as Social Security numbers, direct deposit bank account information, background checks and other personal facts that would prove detrimental if compromised. "Whether electronic or in paper form, confidential information in the workplace is a hot item for theft, and the methods employed by criminals to obtain this information are constantly evolving," theft expert John Sileo told Massachusetts' Taunton Gazette. In Mississippi, Melissa Eades had her identity stolen by a former co-worker, The Clarion Ledger reported. According to the source, around three years ago, the unidentified woman was fired from her job. Eades told the source the co-worker accessed her personnel file and stole personal information. A year later, Eades began receiving bills and credit card statements from multiple lines of credit she had not opened. The goods purchased were being delivered to Jackson, though Eades lived in Pearl. According to the Ledger, Eades was forced to take measures including placing a fraud alert on her credit reports. With these tools, the source reported, she was able to fix her credit history in six to eight months. The people at Waller Lansden Dortch and Davis said employers can take measures to protect their staff against outside identity thieves trying to breach company information. They suggested making sure tangible records are protected by locks, restricting the number of workers that have access to sensitive data and considering running a background check on all employees to limit risk.