Americans Worried About Identity Theft, Unlikely to Protect Themselves: Survey

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Despite rising concern about identity theft, most Americans aren't taking basic steps to make it harder for their information to be stolen, according to a survey conducted by Experian in August 2017.

The survey found consumers are increasingly anxious that their online accounts and surfing might make them vulnerable to identity theft. Nearly three in four consumers (73%) said they are very or somewhat concerned their email, financial accounts or social media info could be hacked, up from 69% in a similar survey Experian conducted in 2015. Notably, the latest survey was conducted prior to revelations of the Equifax breach, which exposed the financial records of over 144 million people. (See: Here's What You Should Do After a Data Breach)

That's also nudged more consumers to take additional precautions in protecting their personal information online. The percent of respondents upping their security practices rose five percentage points between 2015 and 2017 to 53%.

Plenty Miss out on Basic Protection Steps

Nearly 80% of survey respondents are concerned about using a public WiFi network. Yet, when using mobile devices, barely half of respondents said they take the precaution of using password protected WiFi network, and even fewer make an extra effort to protect their account passwords.

Protecting Identity Taking Precious Time

As if life isn't already overbooked, watching over our online accounts is one more chore that eats up a significant chunk of time for many Americans.

Smart Device Pros Still Outweigh the Cons

Eyes are wide open that personal information is not likely very safe on the web.

Despite the potential risks, only 1 in 5 respondents said the security risks of using smart devices is not worth the benefits, though it bears repeating this survey was conducted before the Equifax data breach.

Frequent Use of Work Computer for Personal Surfing Declines

The majority of workers report they are knowledgeable about their workplace cybersecurity policy, but while 76% said they were knowledgeable in 2015, that declined to 68% in this year's survey. Knowledge doesn't always translate to best practices. Nearly one in five workers younger than 35 has been reprimanded for a cybersecurity misstep, compared to 1% of workers at least 55 years old.

In this year's survey, fewer Americans copped to using their work computer for personal reasons, though more than four in 10 admit they do some personal surfing on a daily basis.

In the Dark About the Dark Web

Barely one in four survey respondents has a solid understanding of the dark web, a hidden, but large and often dangerous section of the Internet. That said, millennials are more up to speed; nearly half report they are familiar with the dark web, compared to less than 30% of respondents between the age of 35-54. Just 12% of respondents at least 55 years old reported they are familiar with the dark web.

There was a big jump in consumer concern that their personal information could be available in this portion of the Internet.

Survey Methodology
The data points referenced in this report come from a survey commissioned by, Inc., an Experian company, produced by Edelman Intelligence and conducted as an online survey of n=1000 adults nationwide that took place August 17-23, 2017.