Identity Theft Changes How People Use The Internet
Online consumers are expressing growing worries about identity theft, The Conference Board reports. More than 13 % of all Internet users say they or a member of their household has already been a victim of identity theft.”
The Consumer Internet Barometer is produced by The Conference Board and TNS NFO, a division of TNS, the world’s largest custom research company, and covers 10,000 households.”
Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board’s Consumer Research Center: “Misplaced or stolen data from major financial service institutions such as Citigroup, Bank of America and Wachovia, and the admitted mishandling of data by the credit card processing company CardSystems Solutions, have increased consumers’ concerns about online security. Consumers have taken steps to be more cautious, which is a good thing. The downside is the negative impact to online retailers that may slow the growth of e-commerce.”
Growing security concerns have caused Internet users to alter their online behavior. Consumers are most wary of online financial transactions, followed by making online purchases. More than half of online consumers say their level of concern has grown over the past year and many have changed the way they use the Internet. Latest survey data show that more people are buying less online.
Nearly 70 % of online users have installed additional security software on their PCs, 54 % now “opt-out” of special offers, and 41 % are purchasing less online. Some 27 % say they have read online privacy statements and 21 % are using multiple email addresses.
The majority of online consumers, 54 %, say they are more concerned today about the security of their personal information on the Internet than a year ago. Some 42 % say their level of concern has not changed; but only 4 % say they are less concerned today. Nearly two-thirds of Internet users age 55 and over claim they are more apprehensive, while only 40 % of consumers under age 35 are more concerned today.
“Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in the nation, according to the Federal Trade Commission,” says David Stark, TNS’ North American Privacy Officer. “Behind phishing attacks and malicious spyware are criminals whose goal is to get people’s names, credit card numbers and account information for fraudulent purposes.”
Conducting financial transactions and purchasing products are online activities that produce the most apprehension among Internet users. Close to three out of every five Internet users claim they are extremely concerned about the security of their information when conducting financial transactions online. Nearly half are just as concerned when purchasing products over the Internet. However, when communicating online or using search engines, less than 30 % of online consumers expressed a heightened level of concern.
The younger the online consumer, the less apprehensive they tend to be, regardless of the online activity. Among Internet users under age 35, only 49 % are extremely concerned about the security of their information when conducting financial transactions online. That figure soars to 63 % among consumers age 55 and older.
“Younger consumers tend to be among the early adopters of technology and the Internet is no exception,” adds Stark. “This group is familiar and comfortable with the Web, and many feel that they know how to protect themselves online. Additionally, consumers who are 55 and older have accumulated more wealth than their younger counterparts. There is a lot more money at stake for this group if their personal information ever got into the hands of cyber criminals.”
The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 households. A unique sample is surveyed each quarter. Return rates average 70%, which ensures highly representative data. Data is weighted as well to reflect the latest U.S. household demographic information. The latest survey was conducted during the second quarter of 2005.