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Americans Have Stepped Up Their Fight Against ID Theft, CompareCards Finds

One year ago, Equifax announced its massive data breach, which exposed the personal information of…

  • September 27, 2018

One year ago, Equifax announced its massive data breach, which exposed the personal information of some 148 million Americans and brought financial information security into question.

According to the latest survey from CompareCards by online marketplace LendingTree, 91 percent of consumers said they took some sort of action to protect themselves from identity theft.

Equifax publicly announced the data breach on September 7, 2017. As the one-year anniversary of that announcement neared, commissioned Qualtrics to ask 1,037 Americans with a credit card or debit card if they had taken any of 10 actions aimed at detecting, preventing or protecting themselves from identity theft.

More than 9 out of 10 respondents said they had done at least one, and the average respondent had done three.

The most common actions taken were:

  • 65 percent started looking at online bank and credit card statements more often in the past year
  • 51 percent looked at their credit score
  • 50 percent set up alerts to be notified when charges appear on their credit card
  • 37 percent reviewed their credit report

“People have clearly been spurred to action, and that’s great news,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analysts for CompareCards. “Whether they’re reacting to the Equifax breach or any of the other myriad data breaches we’ve seen recently, Americans are taking concrete steps to protect themselves and their money.”

More than 8 in 10 Americans (81 percent) said they are being more diligent about looking for signs of identity theft than they were a year ago.  Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) said they always check their credit card and bank statements every month to make sure that the charges are accurate.

Older and more educated Americans are generally more likely to say they do so.

Despite all the actions being taken against fraud, it’s also clear that the next big breach might not be as impactful. More than half of Americans (52 percent) say they’re less bothered by data breaches now because they assume their information is already out there.

Other key findings include:

  • 40 percent of Americans said they had fraudulent charges on an account in the past year. The wealthier and more educated you are, the more likely you are to have said you were a victim. (The same percentage said they were notified their information had been exposed in a breach.)
  • 30 percent have ever frozen or locked their credit, and half of these respondents said those freezes or locks are still active today. The most common reasons for not locking or freezing credit:
  • They didn’t know they could (29 percent)
  • They aren’t that concerned with fraud (28 percent)
  • They didn’t know how to do it (22 percent)
  • Nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) said they were notified that their personal information had been exposed on the “dark web.” Republicans, men and the wealthy are the most likely to have said this happened to them.
  • Fifty percent of Americans changed their PIN on their ATM card in the past year, but 1 in 4 Americans say they’ve never done it.
  • Meanwhile 30 percent of Americans said they have changed their passwords on their bank or credit card issuer’s website in the past year.

This is good to hear, since data thieves are becoming bolder, and more capable, all the time. Consumers need to protect themselves.

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