Our HR Manager's Laptop Was Stolen; Should We Offer Credit Monitoring Service?

As of 2006, 1 in 9 Americans had received a notice of security breach. That ratio is bound to rise with the continued onslaught of hacking and the theft of laptop computers now the crime du jour.  The decision whether to provide notice of security breach, now governed by law in 36 states and the District of Columbia, is relatively easy when compared to the decision whether to provide free credit monitoring service.

No law requires a business to offer credit monitoring after a security breach, so why do so many businesses seem to opt for it? Preventing loss of good will seems to be the answer.  According to a 2006 study by the Ponemon Institute, businesses suffer damages in lost customer opportunity cost equaling almost $100/lost record.  That loss far exceeds the cost of one year’s worth of credit monitoring which, depending upon the size of the breach and the type of service, can range from $15 to $50 per individual.

While employees are not customers, employee disgruntlement can result in loss of productivity and increased turnover with an associated increase in recruiting costs. Employers confronting the question whether to offer free credit monitoring should try to quantify these costs as compared to the cost of providing credit monitoring service. In making this calculation, employers should keep in mind that the percentage of notice recipients who actually exercise the right to credit monitoring can be low, ranging, according to one report from as little as 5% or less to as high as 30%.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.