More than 13 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year, which means every three seconds someone's identity is stolen. Identity theft is the fastest growing crime and consumer complaint in America, and benefit industry experts say concerned employees are seeking protection as an employer perk more than ever.

Clayton, Mo.-based Powers Insurance and Benefits works with employers to protect against cyber liability and help employees protect against cyber risks, as well. The firm's president JD Powers discussed with EBA some protections advisers and employees can put in place.

JD Powers

Recent data suggests employees more than ever want ID theft protection benefits. What qualities should advisers and their employer clients be looking for in a product to offer employees?

Identity restoration products for individuals offer a variety of benefits. It’s prudent for employers to encourage their employees to have ID theft protection through their homeowner’s insurance or credit card as well as utilize a monitoring company like LifeLock. This will protect the individual regardless of how and where their information was stolen.

Employers and individuals should seek a solution from their insurance and risk management firm. If they don’t seem familiar with this evolving cyber/ID theft exposure, seek advice from another insurance agency. Your agency should be able to address your identity theft exposure. It’s the cyber liability for businesses that gets tricky which is why we designed an exclusive program. Make sure your agent can teach you and your employees how to best protect themselves from cybercriminals who are consistently targeting your personal and professional reputation and financial well-being.

ID theft is a top concern for employers and their employees. What sort of products should advisers be talking to employer clients about to ease these concerns?

There are plenty of cyber liability products available in the marketplace today, but many have an application process that is so extensive and technical that it scares employers and IT professionals away. Look for programs that are easy to understand, cost-effective, and comprehensive in terms of protecting your company, employees and customers.

"The best way to deter a hacker is to identify your company’s own vulnerabilities."

Specific products to consider when researching cyber insurance include those that offer built-in advertising and public relations’ response to protect and restore reputation; indemnification for unauthorized information release; legal defense and settlement; reimbursement for credit card company assessment charges and government fines; extortion reimbursement and negotiations assistance, and; business interruption coverage.

What other steps can advisers and employers take to protect the business and their employees from a cyber breach?

Awareness is the key. The best way to deter a hacker is to identify your company’s own vulnerabilities. Only then can you develop a preventative strategy to resolve potential breaches down the road. An IT professional or vendor can help you protect your systems and confidential data, but they will be the first ones to admit that there is no way to be 100% protected unless you’re off the grid. The combination of having a preventative strategy, cyber response plan and cyber liability insurance is as good as it gets unless you wish to not use technology.

The most frightening aspect of cybercrime is that it is steadily on the rise. According to the 2015 Symantec Internet Security Report, 60% of cyber-attacks last year struck small to medium sized businesses along with 34,529 known computer security penetration incidents per day.

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