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BEDFORD, Texas – With identity theft a top concern and increased reports of security breaches in the news, human resources experts are predicting that employers’ liability may grow. States such as Michigan, California, Arizona, New York Texas and Maryland have either passed legislation or are considering identity theft protection legislation that would bar employers from using more than four digits of a social security number and from sending anything through the mail on which a social security number is visible from outside the envelope for example. In addition, many of these amendments establish penalties for violations if personal data is not properly disposed of or if employers have not reasonably limited access to the information. With the increased interest protecting against internal identity theft is not just a priority for auditors but human resources departments as well. “We’re very fortunate that we’ve not experienced any internal identity theft here,” said Fort Worth Community Credit Union Vice President of Human Resources and HR/Training and Development Council Chair Tammy Trudelle. “But there is a heightened awareness.” At her credit union Trudelle says in particular background screenings have become more stringent. “We’ve added a social security verification and we also took a closer look at who we are using to do the background screenings,” said Trudelle. “There have been occasions where the social security number has come up as being used simultaneously in different parts of the country. Sometimes it is innocent the result of a keying error for example in a social security office but we’ve found that when we start asking pointed questions the job applicant usually loses interest. We’ve even had a case where the person didn’t realize their identity had been stolen and was being used by someone in Seattle.” Trudelle adds that when looking at potential background screening firms it is important to know as much about their policies and procedures as possible. “The best efforts in the world can still be just as much luck as rolling a set of dice if you don’t screen, screen, screen,” said Trudelle. “If you are using a firm and no one has ever come back questionable then that should be a warning. You want to make sure the firm is FCRA compliant, find out how they are doing their searches is it just an internet search or do they verify everything from education, driving records and federal information to pulling their own credit reports, are they bonded etc.” Trudelle says credit unions will find as the bar is raised on screening standards recruiting the right people may become an even greater challenge. For example at Fort Worth CCU the overall number of quality applicants has been declining over the past 12-15 months. “It becomes one of those things where for every protective measure you take thieves and scam artists just as quickly come up with ways to circumvent it,” said Trudelle. Trudelle says a confidential intranet site where staffers can send anonymous emails directly to the CEO is another safeguard against workplace fraud. “It has been great for us and not only have we gotten some great suggestions passed on to us by the CEO but we were also alerted to an internal situation here,” said Trudelle. She adds that in the future they may also consider providing an employee tip hotline. [email protected]

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