Many consumers fear identity theft yet still engage in risky behavior

Many consumers fear identity theft yet still engage in risky behavior
Experian’s ProtectMyID® exposes a disconnect between what people know about identity theft risks and what they actually are doing to protect themselves

Costa Mesa, Calif., Oct. 21, 2013 — A new online survey by Harris Interactive, conducted for Experian's ProtectMyID®, reveals consumers are still at high risk for identity theft, failing to practice even simple safeguards. The survey, fielded to coincide with National Protect Your Identity Week, shows the vast majority of U.S adults (93 percent) recognize identity theft is a growing problem. Yet, 61 percent feel it would not be very difficult for a person to steal their identity and 67 percent are concerned that identity theft will affect them in the future.

The national study surveyed more than 2,000 consumers on their perceptions and activities related to identity theft. While 89 percent of online U.S. adults say they take steps to secure their digital information, more than half (55 percent) don’t always check to see if a Website is secure before shopping online, and more than three out of five adults who have online accounts (63 percent) don’t use a unique password for each of their online accounts.

“This survey clearly shows that, while people are more aware and concerned about identity theft, they are not doing what they should to stay protected, especially when it comes to online activities,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian’s ProtectMyID. “Consumers clearly don’t want to become victims, yet they continue to put themselves in danger.”

The results also reveal that 92 percent of U.S. adults believe people should be more concerned about identity theft. In addition, 33 percent don’t feel confident they are doing enough to protect their identities.

Additional key findings from the survey

Digital devices under-protected — U.S. adults own and use a variety of devices, but more than two in five of those who own a smartphone (43 percent) report they rarely or never use a password to unlock their smartphone. Additionally, 47 percent of adults who own a tablet indicate they rarely or never use a password to unlock their tablets.

Risky shopping — Ninety-one percent of U.S. adults shop online; however, many don’t safeguard their credit card information. The survey shows that 57 percent of online shoppers don’t always go to sites directly (by typing the name in their web browser), but instead click on links. This action increases the risk of going to a fraudulent site designed to capture the visitor’s personal information.

Social networking is too social — Among U.S. adults who have a social network profile such as Facebook and Twitter, slightly more than one in three (36 percent) manage their privacy settings on an ongoing basis. Many may be exposing themselves to fraud by allowing certain information to be public, such as educational background (60 percent), date of birth (44 percent), and email address (36 percent).

Real-world scenarios create simple dangers — Twenty-three percent of adults admit they set their purses, bags or jackets containing wallets under the table or behind them on a chair at a restaurant.

Social Security cards can put sensitive information into the wrong hands — Forty-six percent of adults write their Social Security number on job applications, medical forms, etc., and 29 percent say they carry their Social Security card (or a copy of it) in their wallet or purse.

About the survey
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Experian from Oct. 3–7, 2013, among 2,041 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample; therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact

Ann Noder
Pitch PR
1 480 263 1557

Becky Frost
Experian Consumer Services
1 949 202 7296

About Experian’s ProtectMyID
ProtectMyID is a leading, full-service provider of identity theft detection, protection and resolution. ProtectMyID offers comprehensive identity theft protection features supported by experienced identity theft resolution professionals who deliver personal attention that customers can rely on.® is a Website owned by, Inc., an Experian company. For more information about how ProtectMyID helps consumers protect themselves against identity theft, please visit

About Experian
Experian® is a leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients around the world. The Group helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended March 31, 2013, was US$4.7 billion. Experian employs approximately 17,000 people in 40 countries and has its corporate headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, with operational headquarters in Nottingham, UK; California, US; and São Paulo, Brazil.

For more information, visit

Experian and the Experian marks used herein are service marks or registered trademarks of Experian Information Solutions, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.