15% of Americans Robbed of Identity; 85% Expect It

by , May 30, 2004, 12:00 AM
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15% of Americans Robbed of Identity; 85% Expect It

According to a survey of 500 Americans, conducted online by InsightExpress, 15% of Americans have been a victim of identity theft with one-third having had a friend or family member victimized. An overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) are concerned that identity theft could happen to them, while almost three out of five (59%) are actively taking measures to protect themselves.

Americans say the online purchasing environment carries the greatest risk of identity theft (37%) followed by telephone purchases (34%) and in-person purchases (10%). Americans' anxiety over identity theft doesn't stop with credit card purchases, as they cite ways they feel they could be victimized:

Ways Americans Think Identity Theft Could Happen to Them

Percent of Americans Agreeing Stolen wallet 86%
Accessing a credit card number on the Internet 65%
Identifying information on Internet sources 64%
Stolen mail from an unlocked mailbox 64%
Dumpster diving in trash bins for un-shredded documents 58%
Fraudulently accessing credit reports 56%
Obtaining your name and Social Security Number from personnel or customer files in the workplace 54%
Shoulder surfing at ATM to capture PIN numbers 46%

Citing both financial implications and the general nuisance factor as the key pain points, Americans actively trying to prevent identity theft are taking the following steps:

Steps Taken by Americans Actively Trying to Prevent Identity Theft

Percent Actively Trying Avoid giving my social security number out 87%
Shred or destroy bank and/or credit card information 83%
Shred or destroy any credit card or other direct mail offers 81%
Create passwords containing numbers and letters 61%
Avoid buying or making donations via the phone 58%
Only purchase goods online from a reputable Website 56%
Install a computer firewall at home 52%
Read the privacy statements and/or bank liability clauses 50%
Check my credit report more frequently 38%
Only use one credit card for purchases 31%
Avoid shopping online 31%
Avoid using my debit/check-cashing card for purchases 20%
Subscribe to an identity theft protection program 11%

In terms of liability:

  • 48% of consumers expect that they would be at least partly responsible for charges made on their credit card should they become a victim.
  • 58% say the person who stole the card is responsible, followed by the
  • 33% think the institution who issues the card is responsible
  • 29% say the institution that approves the credit card charge is liable
  • 26% think the merchants are responsible

You can find out more here.

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