Identity Theft Protection for Your Employees and Why it’s a Good Idea

Identity Theft Protection for Your Employees and Why it’s a Good Idea

During 2018 alone, nearly half a million identity theft cases were reported to the Federal Trade Commission, making it the third-most-common type of fraud.1 Identity theft, which can be defined as taking someone else’s personal information and using it for fraudulent purposes, takes two principal forms: hacking into the electronic records of banks and companies that gather personal information about their customers in the normal course of doing business; and credit card fraud.

Their Credit Cards Are at Risk

Credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft.2 Americans use credit and debit cards more than 123 billion times every year.3 During the first half of 2019, more than 15 million credit cards with card numbers issued in the US were stolen.4

Sometimes, the cards themselves go missing. More frequently, the data they contain is stolen through “skimming” (their data is captured on a small electronic device placed at gas stations, ATMs, etc.) and other indirect methods. Stolen credit cards can be used by the thief or sold on the “dark web.” Often, it’s the fact that the credit card isn’t physically missing that prevents the theft from being detected for weeks or even months, and then only if and when victims take the time to review their charges carefully.

Bank Accounts Are Being Hacked

Electronic hacks can yield credit card numbers, financial account numbers, and social security numbers, as well as other personal information that can be used to steal from existing accounts or create fraudulent accounts. Hacking was responsible for 39% of data breaches in 2018.5 We’ve all heard about the 2017 Equifax data breach, which compromised the personal data of 147 million Americans, and the 2019 Capital One data breach, which affected more than 100 million people. The majority of the more than 5,000 data hacks in 2019 were incidents of bank fraud.6

The Biggest Potential for Loss: Debit Cards

How big of a financial problem is identity theft for its victims? That depends in part on what is stolen and how. According to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), if a credit card number was skimmed or otherwise hacked, but the card itself is still in your possession, you’re not liable for any unauthorized charges. If the credit card itself was stolen you could be liable for a maximum of $50 in fraudulent charges. Today, however, most major credit card companies offer “zero liability,” so card holders are freed of responsibility for any and all fraud against them.

In the case of a hacked bank account, it’s still relatively clear cut. Generally, the bank is obligated to replenish stolen funds. That full liability, however, does not continue indefinitely, so it’s important to report fraud as quickly as possible.

It’s a very different situation with debit cards. If your card is stolen, your maximum liability is $50, providing you reported the missing card within two days. If you report it after that, but within two months’ time, you could be responsible for up to $500 in fraudulent charges. After 60 days, you might be responsible for the entire amount charged by the thief.7

The Benefits of Offering an Identity Protection Benefit

In 2017, half of all workers said they would like their employer to provide identity theft protection.8 At that point, only 24% of bosses agreed.9 But as identity theft has continued to grow, and as its costs both to employees and employers have become more apparent, many companies are embracing ID theft protection as a perk.

Having employees who know they are protected against fraudulent charges (up to a dollar amount you choose) can help reduce lost productivity. In their efforts to prevent liability for bad charges employees are frequently absent or distracted.

Offering Identity Theft Protection is attractive today thanks to a 2016 IRS decision to make employer-provided identity theft protection a tax-free benefit to all companies, not just those which had previously suffered a data breach. That means you can offer it without a tax penalty to your company or your employees. This benefit can cover employee bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards, including their employee benefit cards.

When you think about it, protection against fraudulent charges is another kind of “insurance” employers can offer to be an employer of choice in attracting and retaining talent. And don’t underestimate the good will that comes from employees grateful that you helped them out of a tough spot.

TASC includes Identity Theft Protection at no charge with TASC Universal Benefit Account.

Promote Wellness and See the Different Ways it Pays Off for Your Company

Promote Wellness and See the Different Ways it Pays Off for Your Company

It’s understandable that most businesses look to wellness programs as a way to control healthcare spending. Rising costs (along with an epidemic of lifestyle-related diseases including diabetes, heart disease and chronic pulmonary conditions) make offering healthcare to employees a challenge. Add in that in 2020, 25% of the workforce will be 55 years old or older and Gen Xers (25-44 years old) are twice as likely to be obese or diagnosed with diabetes than Boomers were at that age, and there’s a real imperative to do everything possible to keep costs down.1

The good news is that evidence suggests workplace wellness intervention can help. The average results of 22 separate studies on wellness programs and healthcare costs found that for every $1 spent on wellness, the company saved $3.27 in reduced health care expenses.2

Controlling healthcare costs isn’t the only financial reason for promoting and supporting wellness in the workplace. In fact, employees in poor health can cost companies even more money in absenteeism and presenteeism.

The hidden epidemics: absenteeism and presenteeism

Almost 18% of employees have chronic conditions generating 450 million lost workdays with $150 million in lost productivity.3 Presenteeism (when workers are on the job, but not productive) is the factor most often underestimated. Workers whose health and lifestyle related issues impair their ability to contribute can cost companies two to three times more than companies spend directly on healthcare.4

If you need another reason to make wellness a priority, consider this: it’s already a priority for current and future employees. A full 70% of employees say that employer-sponsored wellness programs are “very important” or “important.”5 The desire for wellness crosses the generational divide. Boomers and Xers rate “lose weight” as their top health goal, whereas Millennials say it’s getting more sleep and reducing stress.6 But all three groups value improved energy and productivity at work, physical activity/exercise, nutrition, and prevention of major diseases such as heart disease and cancer.7

In 2017, about half of all employers in the United States offered some type of wellness initiative.8  It’s estimated that in 2019 large corporate employers spent $3.6 million on employee wellness programs.9 Most employers (72%) who offer wellness programs offer both wellness screening and interventions to help prevent or manage health problems.10 Interventions can include fitness programs and help with weight loss and smoking cessation. Among large firms that offer health benefits, 31% provide an incentive for employees to take a health risk assessment, and 40% of organizations offer rewards and bonuses for achieving wellness benchmarks.11

How to make your wellness program a success

Your wellness program can offer gym memberships, fun runs, yoga classes, expert speakers, coaches and instructors, physical therapy and massage services, standing desks, meditation rooms, education about smoking, alcohol consumption and healthy eating, and more. There are many ways to manage the implementation or enhancement of your wellness offerings. A Fitness Tracking Account (FTA) lets you help employees track their progress to achieving their physical fitness goals. Goal attainment can be tied to rewards for the employee, which can be converted into cash or other incentives. Or expand fitness to include other healthful behaviors and benchmarks in a Wellness Tracking Account (WTA).

A 2016 study found that “a key determinant of success” in company wellness programs was support from company leadership. Leaders must “consistently express the importance of employee health and wellbeing to the organization,” both preaching wellness and supporting it with their actions.12 Attitude and commitment count: the Harvard Business Review noted that wellness programs only work in a culture where self-care is prioritized.”13

The arguments for investing in wellness in the workplace are compelling. For example, according to a Harvard study, every dollar spent on wellness saves $2.73 in lost productivity due to absenteeism.14 And more than three out of four HR professionals said they believed implementing wellness initiatives was a successful strategy to control healthcare expenses and improve the health of their employees.15

Traditional wellness benefits can be a powerful force in your company. Combined with quality-of-life benefits like flexible working hours expanded time off, and innovative benefits like credits for biking to work, they can create a workplace that’s not only healthier and more productive, but happier, too.

Everyone Wants Fast Reimbursement

Everyone Wants Fast Reimbursement

With so many Americans living paycheck to paycheck, getting reimbursed for expenses faster can make employees happier and more engaged with a benefits program. It’s a frightening fact that many Americans are chronically short of money. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck.1 And it’s not a situation limited to low-income workers. Of workers who make at least $100,000 a year, one in ten also lives paycheck to paycheck.2 Perhaps even more frightening is that 57% of American have less than $1000 available to them for an unexpected need or an emergency.3

With money so tight, unplanned expenses are extremely stressful. And they crop up every day, not just during a pandemic. In 2019, one in three homeowners were faced with an emergency home repair at an average cost of $1206.Car repairs are another big-ticket item. When you take in to account that the average car in the United States is about twelve years old, and that more that 81% of the disabled cars AAA tows are ten years old or older, it’s easy to imagine how many of us face an unexpected auto repair every week.5

Unplanned healthcare and dependent care expenses are also facts of life. Often there are out-of-pocket expenditures for copays, out-of-network urgent care or emergency care, last-minute sick childcare, etc. Employees in your company’s benefits program might have HSA, HRA or FSA dollars accrued to help take the sting out of these expenses. But with money so tight from week to week, many aren’t able to “float” out-of-pocket money while waiting for their benefits administrator to reimburse them.

And reimbursement time depends on several factors. The slowest reimbursement is by check at ten (or more) business days. ACH (bank direct deposit) reimbursements are faster but can still take about 3 business days after requests are made because the funds have to go from the administrator through the Federal Reserve system and then to the employee’s financial institution.

This lag time is an important consideration when employers are selecting a third-party administrator (TPA) for their benefits program. The benefits that are going to feel the most like benefits to your employees are the ones that deliver as promised and cause them the least amount of stress and inconvenience. In other words, when it comes to benefits reimbursement, faster is better.

If you’d like to optimize the turnaround time for reimbursement, consider a partner that offers a faster alternative to the average three-day turnaround.  TASC, for example, offers the fastest reimbursement in the market with MyCash, which allows funds to go to a participant’s benefits card almost immediately, typically within a day, after the request is received and processed. The money sent to the employee’s MyCash account can be accessed by using the benefits card as a conventional debit card. In other words, with the MyCash feature, your employees can use their benefit card both for covered benefit-related expenses and for whatever immediate need they have, including groceries, gasoline, new soccer cleats for the kids or to pay for that unexpected visit from the plumber. By helping them get their money faster, you’ll have happier employees and a more successful benefits program.

Supporting Employees Caring for a Growing Number of Adult Dependents

Supporting Employees Caring for a Growing Number of Adult Dependents

According to AARP, about 6.2 million Millennials care for a parent, in-law or grandparent.1 One reason for multi-generation families is the rising cost of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. With many elders unable to afford those options, that means staying in their homes with help or moving in with their working children. This bears out in the number of in-home health care workers increasing 150 percent in the last decade.2

Even with that growth, there is a strain on the supply of paid caregivers making it difficult for workers to find care for parents and older relatives. The cost doesn’t help either.  The average annual cost of adult day care was $18,000 in 2018.3 In 2019, the average cost of adult home care was $21 an hour.4 With one third of working Millennial caregivers earning less than $30,000 a year, that’s more than 27% of their income paying for adult dependent care.5

Under the best of circumstances, securing professional care during working hours puts a personal and financial strain on employees. Then add the fact that they may have young children to care for too. If there’s an unexpected disruption in the arrangements they’ve made due to illness or sudden closures, the stress magnifies. Many back-up care options—calling on family or friends, drop-in daycare centers, babysitting co-ops, even taking the child to work for the day—aren’t available, possible or practical with older dependents who need assistance during the workday. The care that is available comes at a premium. Often, then, the choice for young workers is between staying home with the dependent and perhaps missing a day (or more) of work or paying more than they can afford for an interim caregiver or facility.

Even if your company doesn’t formalize a relationship with a back-up care provider, you can still offer assistance to employees facing added expenses for unanticipated adult daycare needs.

A Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account (BCRA) can be offered for both childcare and adult care. It allows reimbursement for expenses incurred because of an unexpected disruption in normal daycare arrangements. When employees have a qualifying event, they request to be reimbursed up to a maximum amount you determine. This employer-funded account is taxable income to the employee and reportable on the employee’s W2. At the end of the plan year, any money left in the account is returned to you, the employer, as forfeiture.

Every day, about 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old.6 With more and more of them looking to younger family members for care and/or housing, adult daycare will only increase in importance in the coming years. Offering a reimbursement account can help recruit talented younger people who know that sooner or later they will find themselves needing back-up care for their parents, grandparents and other adult dependents. It also gives your employees the peace of mind that they have some money in reserve, just in case. That can lead to less absenteeism, and people who are happier and more focused.

TASC offers a Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account (BCRA) as one of more than 40 benefit offerings that can be configured into custom plans that meet employee needs – where they are in life.

The Renewed Importance of Workplace Giving as a Benefit during COVID-19

The Renewed Importance of Workplace Giving as a Benefit during COVID-19

Americans are generous. Although the overhaul of the federal tax code in 2017 effectively eliminated charitable deductions for many taxpayers and resulted in a slight decrease in charitable donations, we still donated $292 billion as individuals in 2018.1

The COVID-19 pandemic might usher in even greater interest in charitable giving. A March 2020 survey found that 25% of donors’ plan to increase the amount of money they give to non-profit organizations.2 That commitment to helping others spans workforce generations, but is particularly strong among Millennials, 46% of whom say they plan to boost their charitable giving.3


Actually, Millennials were leaders in charitable giving even before the pandemic. Prior to this year, more than 80% of Millennials already contributed to charitable causes.4 While Boomers and Xers give more money individually—because, on average, they tend to earn more—Millennials outpace them for participation in charitable giving despite the heavy student debt they carry as a generation.5


Why are Millennials committed to charitable giving? It appears their idealism plays a role along with coming of age in a culture where music, video and information are routinely “shared.” It’s possible that “giving” is simply more natural for Millennials than for older generations. Whatever the reason, they bring a strong belief in bettering society to every aspect of their lives, including their jobs. Since Millennials make up a majority of the workforce today and will represent 45% of all workers by the end of 2024, it’s essential to grasp just how serious they are about charitable giving and how it factors into recruiting and retention.6


According to one study, 76% of Millennials evaluate a company’s social and environmental commitments in deciding whether to accept a position, and 75% would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.7 One way to appeal to them is committing to a strong workplace giving initiative – a convenient way for socially conscious persons to do their part. It also pays dividends for charities, since with companies taking the lead, fundraising can be more efficient and effective. Simply put, the fewer resources charities need to spend getting money, the more money they have to put it where it can do the most good.


Today, about $5 billion comes from individuals who participate in giving programs sponsored and administered by employers.8 There’s no question the potential of workplace giving is largely untapped. Adding a “matching gifts” bonus to your company’s giving program can help set you apart from other employers and generate more funds for the causes you support. (Also, one in three employee donors say they would give more money if they knew their employer would match their contribution.9) The most important thing, however, is making giving part of your corporate brand. Millennials care—and they want to work for employers who share that value.

In appealing to Millennials, you’ll also be appealing to your other employees. Seventy-one percent of all employees believe it’s imperative or very important that their work culture is supportive of giving and volunteering.10 By branding your business as a “giver,” you’ll be helping to recruit and retain not only Millennials, but Xers and Boomers as well.


Consider a managed workplace giving account, which allows employees to give what they want, when they want, to a potentially wide array of charities. Employees fund their contributions through payroll deductions. The contributions are post-tax but can be claimed if the employee itemizes. You can add a managed workplace giving account to your current program or implement it as a single, versatile tool for all your organization’s charitable giving.


TASC offers several types of Giving Accounts to satisfy cross generational interest in charitable giving, and in doing so, elevate companies to an employer of choice status which aides in recruiting and retention.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

Now more than ever, a Health Savings Account (HSA) is a valuable tool to help with health and financial concerns.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have provided employees covered under High-Deductible Health Insurance Plans (HDHPs) with a convenient way to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses including deductibles, copays, and coinsurance for things like routine doctor, dentist and vision appointments, specialty care, and prescriptions. In recent years, as healthcare costs continue to rise, there has been an increased interest in HSAs. Of the estimated 25 million HSAs in place at the end of 2018, 71% had been opened since 2015.1

The triple tax benefit of the HSA is one reason for the account’s popularity. Typically, employees fund an HSA through pretax payroll deductions. Account holders earn interest on their balances tax-free and can make tax-free withdrawals for qualified purchases. (Meanwhile, employers also save on payroll taxes.) The account has other advantages as well. Unlike a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), there is no end-of-year, use-it-or-lose-it provision. The account can grow from year to year tax-free with no limit to how much can be rolled over. The HSA belongs to the employee and is portable. In fact, one of its most valuable benefits is that it can be used in retirement to pay for Medicare premiums and other health-related expenses.

Over the years, the rules around Health Savings Accounts have changed to meet evolving healthcare needs. In 2019, the IRS broadened its list of qualifying HSA expenses to include services and items useful in the prevention of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, osteoporosis, and other health conditions.

Now, HSAs have changed again to meet the unique needs of the current pandemic. In March 2020, the IRS announced that testing and treatment of COVID-19 could be covered by a HDHP without eliminating the plan’s status as a High-Deductible plan. (They were given “flexibility…to provide health benefits for testing and treatment of COVID-19 without application of a deductible or cost sharing.”2) Qualifying expenditures include thermometers and vaporizers, telehealth, professional counseling and treatment for depression or anxiety related to the pandemic, massage or acupuncture, and alcohol or drug dependency programs. The passage of the CARES Act in March, removed the requirement that prescriptions are necessary to use HSA dollars for the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) medications (retroactive to January 1, 2020).3

Since layoffs have been an unfortunate reality of the economic fallout from the pandemic, it’s important to note that unemployed persons can use HSA funds to pay health care premiums on COBRA coverage or an independent policy. It’s always important to use the income you have as wisely as possible. This may help people avoid drawing out of other retirement funds and exhausting their savings if they were to be laid off.

Finally, the extension in the federal income tax filing deadline brought about by the pandemic also means an extension of the deadline for 2019 HSA contributions until July 15. So, it might benefit some employees to make retroactive contributions to their accounts since those funds can be rolled over if not used and it’s all tax free. Employees can fund the account up to the 2019 maximum of $3,500 for individuals and $7,000 for families, with an additional $1000 allowance for persons 55 and older. This year’s maximum has increased to $3,550 for individuals and $7,100 for families.

Make Remote Working “Work” for Your company and Employees

Make Remote Working “Work” for Your company and Employees

The number of telecommuters has increased suddenly and dramatically due to efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s too soon to know whether these temporary measures will change the balance of onsite and remote workers on a permanent basis. It seems likely, however, that a successful remote working experience now will open the door to more demand for the ability to work from home after the health crisis is over.

Before 2005, telecommuting—also known as remote working, mobile working, and working from home—was a rarity. In the fifteen years since, it has increased by 173%, including a 44% increase in the last 5 years alone.1 By the end of 2018, more than 26 million people (16% of the U.S. workforce) were working remotely at least some days.2 And with 50% of all workers now in jobs that can be done remotely, many companies have an opportunity to more fully implement remote work.3

Increasingly, the question isn’t whether to allow employees to work remotely, but rather how to make remote working “work” for both the company and employees. The key is understanding the psychology of remote working and its challenges. The American Psychological Association and others have looked into the subject and offer valuable insights.

Simply allowing telecommuting isn’t enough to ensure its success. According to psychologist Kristen Shockley, companies “also need to shift their culture and norms to support the new arrangement.”There are things to watch for and guard against. And to encourage.

In some cases, the biggest adjustment isn’t by the remote employee, but by his or her manager. Evaluating a remote employee can be a challenge for a traditional manager who depends on regular check-ins to gauge an employee’s engagement and effort. As Jeanne Wilson of the College of William & Mary notes, “In a remote situation, managers must rely more heavily on results. That’s a hard transition for a lot of people to make.”5

It’s important not to unintentionally exclude remote workers. Aetna, which has supported telecommuting for many years, has taken a proactive approach by collaborating with Cornell University psychologists over potential problems such as employee isolation.6 But there are basic best practices you can institute without outside consultants. Be sure to invite remote workers to team events and company-wide events. Since it’s more difficult for telecommuters to socialize with colleagues (a key to building a sense of team), some companies create dedicated virtual meeting places, where the talk can veer away from business towards sports, entertainment and other “water cooler” topics.

Remember that telecommuting employees sometimes have trouble creating a boundary between their work and home lives. Studies show that often they keep working when on-site employees have gone offline for the day. The result can be the exhaustion and burnout many companies try to prevent by offering remote working options in the first place. Be mindful of the long-term effects of unintentionally overworking these employees.7

Think about the composition and structure of your teams, and the frequency of remote work. Research shows that teams composed of members all situated in different locations tend to work together better than teams of mixed on-site and off-site members.8 Also, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that relationships among colleagues sometimes suffered if they worked remotely three or more days a week.9 Those findings notwithstanding, there are things you can do to build unity within your mixed onsite and offsite teams, even if you have employees working remote all week, every week. Look into strategies that use communication to build “perceived proximity,” a sense of closeness among team members.”10 Other suggestions include formalizing the “goals, roles, and communications methods” of a group with remote members, and having a shared leadership instead of the more traditional top-down structure.11

You might have to fine tune your company’s telecommuting practices and policies, but the effort will likely be worth it. According to Cornell University psychologist Bradford Bell, “the research has generally shown that for most outcomes, remote work leads to small but tangible benefits,” including greater employee satisfaction and performance levels that equal or slightly exceed those of on-site workers.12 Advantages of letting employees work from home include the ability to hire the best candidate even if that person is located in another city, state or region, and work-life balance improvements that make for more satisfied employees. For example, one study found that a company lost 50% fewer employees when it allowed them to work from home.13 Telecommuting can help you recruit and retain employees and stay competitive with other organizations.  If a significant number of employees work off-site, an employer can realize savings in overhead—including payroll. According to one study, 34% of U.S. workers said they were willing to take a pay cut of up to 5% in exchange for the opportunity to work remotely.14 By one projection, even half-time telecommuting arrangements would save businesses an average of $11,000 per telecommuter, per year.15

A Home Office Account provides a convenient way for employers to quickly reimburse employees for their eligible home office expenses and help ease their financial burden. If administered in accordance with IRS regulations, the funds in a Home Office Account are not subject to payroll taxes and they do not count as taxable income to the employee.  At the beginning of a plan year you determine eligible employee purchases and the amount of your company’s contribution.  At the end of the plan year, employees forfeit any money left unspent in their account. In order to maintain its tax-favored status, an expense must meet two criteria: have a business connection; and be substantiated or accounted for within a reasonable time period. Any excess reimbursements must be returned within a limited period.

Offering a Home Office Account can help make remote work viable for your employees. It also positions you as a leader in the growing remote work movement. Use it to recruit the best people and keep great people engaged and productive. There’s a good chance you’ll even save money.

TASC is here to support our customers and provide benefits to assist those in need of creating and maintaining a home office/remote workplace through our tax-advantaged Home Office Account. We have other benefit account offerings tailored to help your employees with unexpected expenses that incur during times of need or in response to a changing workplace. View benefits here –

Benefit Accounts to Support Employees During the Pandemic

Benefit Accounts to Support Employees During the Pandemic

In these unprecedented times, many employers look for ways to support their employees. This includes not only ways to keep them on their payroll, but also offer solutions to medical, crises and giving expenses. TASC pioneered the UBA (Universal Benefit Account) platform which opens up many possibilities to create custom plans, depending on the needs of your employees. This platform elevates the ease of adapting the benefits solutions each and every day, but especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the responsiveness and adaptability count the most. Below you will be able to find a few of the solutions we have developed and implemented directly into the platform to facilitate fast execution of the needs of your company and your employees.

Emergency Expense Reimbursement Account

With an Emergency Expense Reimbursement Account, employers can help cover unforeseen costs for their employees during an emergency or difficult circumstance. Eligible items for reimbursement include medical expenses and dependent care costs for qualifying dependents.
Emergency Loan Account

Emergency Loan Account

You can offer emergency funds to your employees who might need financial assistance for unexpected expenses during a difficult time with an Emergency Loan Account. This interest-free loan account allows you to give employees immediate access to borrowed funds to minimize financial stress in times of need.

Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account

Back-Up Care Reimbursement Account offers employees peace of mind when they face unexpected dependent care challenges. Employers can fund this account to help employees secure and pay for temporary care for their dependents, young and old, when regular care falls through.

Home Office Account

Do you have employees working remotely on a temporary or permanent basis? The Home Office Account can be added to your benefit plans to reimburse your employees for the cost of qualified office equipment and supplies necessary to sufficiently equip their home office or workstation.
For more than 40 years, TASC has been a leader, innovator, and partner of employers committed to ensuring the health, wealth and well-being of our customers, employees and community. TASCResponds website is intended to share our expertise with the business community.