Holiday Temps Make The Best Identity Thieves

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

This is the absolute best time of the year to be a dishonest temporary worker. Holiday hustle and bustle overwhelms managers and supervisors and they can’t possibly see everything their employees are doing. It has been said that only 10% of employees are honest, 10% of employees will always steal and 80% will steal based on circumstances. Hiring temps during the holidays becomes the perfect storm for employee theft.

Estimates reveal that 40-50% of all business losses are due to employee theft. Employers need to first vet potential hires so as not to invite a thief into the workplace.


  • Either use a prescreening service or become a master interviewer. Watch for incongruities.
  • Resumes are often “false advertising,” sometimes including outright lies. Look for red-flags and exaggerations.
  • Appearance is telling. To be disheveled and unkempt at an interview is a reflection of one’s character.
  • Interviewees who are well-spoken and ace the interview process may have had lots and lots of jobs.
  • Use employment applications, and check and verify everything.
  • Background checks are only one small, but necessary, element of the screening process.
  • Criminal records checks are insufficient and do not detect employee theft unless prosecuted and convicted.
  • Juvenile convictions do not show on a criminal records check.
  • Drug and alcohol testing.
  • Reference checks.
  • Credit reports.
  • Physical exams.

Hire honest people.

Honest people live by the golden rule, “Do as to others as you would have them do unto you.” Honest people see stealing as demeaning. Honest people believe in karma. Honest people think of the consequences of their actions over a lifetime, not just in the moment. Hire honest people.

Perception is reality.

Assume that after an apparently honest person has been hired, there is still potential for stealing to begin. Orientation is the first place to discourage this behavior. Policies must be openly discussed. Employees are shown aspects of loss prevention and physical security in place. They are further told incidences of theft will be prosecuted under the fullest extent of the law. They are reminded that previous employees were caught and the expenses in fines and to lawyers in a criminal defense cost far more than the goods or cash that were stolen. In Singapore, Iran, Saudi Arabia, they put an average of 500 people a year to death for various nonviolent crimes. That’s perception equaling reality.

Understand the theft probability equation.

Chance of getting caught + consequences of action taken = Level of risk & probability of theft.

  • Low risk: high probability of theft
  • High risk: low probability of theft
  • A reputation for non-action breeds theft. If you fire thieves without prosecution, you will hire thieves in the future.

Increase technology to reduce threats.

ComputerWorld suggests bolstering physical security around temporary cash registers and handheld scanners. It’s easy to install a card-skimming device on a satellite register. Install additional video cameras to monitor the use of such devices.

Review log data daily. System and transaction logs can reveal a lot of information about the security of a payment system. Check them daily for red flags.

Implement “hard” firewall policies. Use a white list of known good addresses to preclude the possibility of card and payment data going anywhere outside the enterprise firewall except to your payment processor.

For your own good, protect your identity. Get a credit freeze. Go to and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft protection can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. “Disclosures”

Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing holiday scams on Foxes Mike and Juliet Show

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