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2/25/2013 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Opinion: ID Theft Takes a Toll on Drivers, Carriers

And yet, drivers can’t just hand over their lives to thieves.

Industry research has found conclusive evidence that any kind of legal issues cause workplace distraction, absenteeism and lost productivity. According to Corporate Wellness magazine, 48% of a company’s employees will experience some business or personal legal issues — including ID theft — throughout the year and will be away from their jobs at least 51 hours per year to solve them.

Even with an ordinary 9-to-5 worker, time spent away from work dealing with any legal issue ends up costing employers thousands of dollars in overtime, absenteeism, higher insurance and compensation premium claims, administrative costs and lost employee production.

In the case of truck drivers, ID theft couldn’t happen at a worse time. Driver behavior is now under a regulatory magnifying glass, thanks to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and its close scrutiny of driver behavior. The distraction potential of a driver trying to put his identity crisis to rest while still paying attention to what’s happening on the interstate is disturbing, to say the least.

Employees dealing with ID theft do not have their heads in the game when on the job. Just dealing with the credit bureaus is a herculean effort.

The core of the issue is lost productivity, either through not being on the job to negligence while doing the job. And what if the distraction is life-threatening? What if the guy driving a delivery truck through a busy city street is shouting at his banker on his cellphone and doesn’t notice the light has turned red?

ID theft is a major problem, and just handing out a pamphlet telling employees to be careful won’t help. Employers need to be supportive of what the employee is going through and make every effort to make the process as stress-free as possible both for the sake of the employee and for the company’s bottom line.

Companies need to train their human resources staff on how to deal with ID theft in a way that boosts employee morale and does everything possible to alleviate the situation. For example, many businesses now offer identity theft services as a coveted voluntary benefit. They are discovering that the nominal cost per employee for coverage — depending on company size and participation — is a small price to pay in lieu of reductions in productivity, revenue and even safety.

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