A jury recently awarded 13 Michigan employees $275,000 for the mental anguish they experienced from identity theft and
trying to straighten out their credit histories. This jury award was against the employees’ union which neglected to
regarding their duty to scrupulously guard employee personal identifiers such as Social Security and driver’s license
Employers are liable for the consequences of their failure to protect employees’ and clients’ personal data. This liability
includes hiring someone with a criminal record who has access to personal information. Identify theft goes beyond
credit card fraud, as criminals and terrorists are known to fake their identities and use their workplaces as resources for
the data they need to commit their fraudulent acts.
The crime of identity theft has been elevated to felony status. Employee and customer personal identifiers are a prime
target for identity thieves. Employers should evaluate their internal policies and procedures to ensure the protection of
confidential employee and customer information.
Many employers perform background investigations which include criminal histories and credit reports on applicants for
positions that have access to financial information or handle money. It is just as critical that employers protect
themselves against identity theft liability by conducting background investigations on employees who have access to
personal identifying information. Employers have a responsibility to perform due diligence in their hiring practices to
ensure that they maintain a safe working environment. A safe environment includes the protection of employees’
Conducting pre-employment or pre-promotion background investigations are a means for employers to perform due
diligence and deter an applicant with something to hide from applying for a position of trust and responsibility. Most
criminals and terrorists will not risk exposure by applying for positions at an organization that performs thorough
background investigations. The use of background investigations by employers provides a means to know more about
the individuals they plan to hire for positions that have access to employee personal identifiers; e.g. payroll clerks,
human resources personnel and management positions.
Commercial Investigations LLC assists employers with protecting their employees, customers and overall businesses
through their BACKGROUND INVESTIGATIONS and CONSULTING SERVICES.
DATE: July 2005 - Identity Crisis