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Employee Tax Liabilities – Putting Your Company at Risk?

Posted on: August 13th, 2014

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A recent WSJ article found that over 80,000 Defense Department employees owed more than $730 million in taxes to the federal government – and most had no plans to repay their debts. Even worse, the majority of these employees with tax liabilities worked in sensitive settings, raising concern that they may be ripe for selling secrets for financial gain.

Although this concerns government employees, private and public companies might also be at risk. Other companies, and even foreign governments, may attempt to find out industry secrets in technology, manufacturing, defense, pharmaceutical, and other industries. This seems like a vulnerability that all companies should consider.

Besides protecting your computer systems/servers from wrongful intrusion, you also need to protect your “people assets”.

One method is to use Background and Credit Checks to a greater extent. Typically, these are only done with new hires, but it might be prudent to use these on a random basis to uncover potential threats to your organization. This is even more important today, since work environments are not as “locked down” with data flowing to and from smartphones, laptops and tablets.

How can background and credit checks help you?

  • Verify the facts. A discrepancy in past employers, education, degrees attained, prior residences and other information might hint at potential problems. Lying about these things attests to character and usually means a higher risk for improper behavior.
  • Determine prior criminal activity. This would be very important to know for certain positions, such as a production line worker, those who work with children, or those who need to operate machinery for example. Aside from that, it might also indicate a propensity for illegal behavior while on the job.
  • Credit information. Employees with financial difficulties may be at greater risk for unauthorized behaviors such as theft, or be a greater target if they work with sensitive information.

None of these factors is an indication that the employee will do something illegal or that they are a direct threat to sell your secrets. However, using background and credit checks on a routine basis can point out potential threats to your business.

Perhaps it’s also time to revisit your security policy and procedures.

Contributing source: WSJ article

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