Digital and Legal Protection Help Protect Low Wage Earners

by YJ Lee

We’ve all heard the phrases, “When it rains, it pours" and "bad things always happen in 3's". Just think how easily this scenario of events could unfold for anyone: You leave your phone at a restaurant (1), which leads to someone hacking in and stealing your credit card and personal information (2), to which you have to pay unexpected lawyer fees to fix (3). This happenstance can cause plan members lots of added financial stress and time away from work to rectify what should be a simply misplaced phone. According to Salary Finance, “American businesses are losing $500 billion per year due to employees’ personal financial stress." To employers and their plan members, voluntary benefits are an essential way to provide value, relief, and protection from bad situations spiraling out of control which can impact the bottom line and save time, money, and resources. Depending on the demographics of the member group, offering voluntary benefits to your plan members can have an impact ranging from saving time and money from a minor inconvenience to preventing an economic death spiral for the working poor. This is especially true in two areas—digital/identity protection and legal protection. 

Protecting your phone in the digital age means protecting your livelihood
Ring… ring… ring… now let’s compound those rings into waiting periods for when a phone breaks. Repairing or replacing a cell phone takes time: filing the claim, shipping the phone, waiting for the repair/replacement, shipping back the phone. Without a phone, even for a few hours or days, it can feel isolating and create communication barriers between friends, family, coworkers, clients and more. However, Amanda Foley with 3P Risk Services explains, "Instead of making our members wait, we issue a cash card so that the device user can immediately repair or replace the phone at a convenient shop located near them." Furthermore, claims are made virtually and instantly with the option to utilize a virtual claims assistant. The days being away from the digital world where we work, consume information and maintain our relationships no longer need to be on hold for more than a day.

While a couple hundred or a thousand dollar cell phone cost is considered a minor or moderate inconvenience to some, a repair or replacement cell phone can have dire consequences for the working poor. The unexpected expense of a cell phone repair or replacement can mean skimping on groceries, missed/unpaid bills, disconnected utilities, and taking on another job. Financial stress has a large impact on work productivity and mental health. According to SHRM, 80% of employees’ financial stress impact their job performance which can involve increased stress, inability to focus, and absenteeism and tardiness. Furthermore, high levels of stress can coincide with anxiety, depression, and physiological symptoms which can lead to further medication. The impact of a cell phone repair/replacement is a downpour due to financial burdens and mental health issues. 

On the flip side of protecting the physical asset, identity protection is also critical and included in 3P Risk Services’ digital protection plan. Foley shares, "Identity protection covers identity theft and recovery services for the entire household. This is a crucial offering for many families living paycheck to paycheck."  Identity theft is commonly believed to impact those with higher incomes; however, according to a study by Greene conducted at Duke University School of Law, identity thieves disregard income level because they do not intend to pay back lenders. Furthermore, the identity thieves target the working poor to steal public benefits and take advantage of the fact that the working poor are “less likely to report these crimes to law enforcement due to distrust or lack of legal support”—not to mention that legal fees are costly. While clearing up an identity theft from a credit report can serve as an inconvenience for employees with more resources, the working poor suffer graver consequences. The low-income workers can face “job loss, harassing debt collection, loss of health care or other benefits, and wage garnishment” which, in return, lead to an economic death spiral, driving the working poor further down into poverty. Employers can play a critical role in preventing an economic turmoil for their working-class employees and diverting the poverty cycle.

To protect oneself in the digital age means to protect the physical asset, the cell phone, along with the digital identity. For example, with 3P Risk Services, existing phones are covered at ease without a diagnostic test and automatic enrollment. Whether it’s a crack in the phone screen, water damage, lost or stolen phone, and more, 3P Risk Services cover the damages immediately with a cash card. The identity protection with 3P Risk Services protect members, including the employee and their family, for expenses up to $25,000. "We also create an easy user experience with an identity theft helpline which includes a live representative, and provide unlimited case management and restoration services that tracks detailed records and contacts the national credit bureaus," shares Foley. The digital protection plan protects, saves, and values the employees’ identity and circumvents the downpour. Hence, offering a voluntary benefit such as phone coverage and identity theft can have a potentially life altering and tremendous financial impact on employees, and ultimately the employer.

Legal benefits go hand in hand with digital benefits
Identity theft often incurs legal fees, especially as it pertains to credit fraud and filing a criminal report. Navigating the legal system and receiving trustworthy legal advice are stressful and more accessible for those who have the means. But for the working poor, identity theft and the law systematically coincide to make the situation worse. For instance, the working poor are hit harder both on an identity theft and legal standpoint due to federal legislation overlooking fraud alerts on credit reports to low-income victims and due to the general lack of knowledge of their legal rights. Moreover, the legal system is costly. To solve for both digital and legal complications and incidences, 3P Risk Services also offers discount legal services. "Our Concierge Legal Benefits offers 24/7 access to an In-Network Attorney which includes both local and state-wide attorneys that have specialization and a minimum of seven years of experience," according to Foley. Foley also shares that "80% of the calls we receive for discount legal stem from credit and restructuring personal debt. Other reasons might include wrecks, and parking tickets." Employees, their spouses, and any dependents under the age of 21 are all covered. To simplify the legal process, 3P Risk Services also provides an account manager to work with the member to find the right attorney and act as a liaison to represent the members’ best interest. There are no hidden fees, no time limits, and no exceptions – the case must get resolved. 3P Risk Services provide a legal discount of 25%.

When it rains, it pours
For the middle-upper class family with a home, a thunderstorm might serve as a minor inconvenience due to the sound of pounding rain and thunder. Conversely, for the family with an apartment with a leaking ceiling -  thunderstorm can create molding and sanitary problems, and the feeling of rain drops and thunder are felt on such a personal level – the disturbance can affect the employee from showing up to work and performing. When voluntary benefits are offered like those from 3P Risk Services, employers and their employees are covered with a roof of services ranging from phone, identity, and legal benefits. And, this is a welcome shelter for many of the low wage earners struggling to make and keep ends meet day after day.

The Granite List is proud to feature 3P Risk Services as a benefits solution on our site.

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