News & Resources

Identity theft a major concern of Americans

Jan 07, 2014 Dave King

With the recent breach at Target and the significant damage to consumer credit scores that can be caused by the crime, identity theft is one of the biggest worries of American consumers. In fact, a recent poll by the Beneson Strategy Group found that people are more concerned about ID theft than privacy.

The theft of personal information is a worry of 75 percent of consumers, compared to 54 percent who are concerned about their browsing history being tracked for targeted advertising.

"By wide margins this survey clearly shows that ID theft has touched the majority of consumers in some way, and that hacking is more worrisome to consumers than tracking, and that voters want the government to more aggressively go after cybercriminals," said Ed Black, CCIA President and CEO. "Safeguarding users online must become a higher priority for companies and also for the regulators and policymakers charged with protecting consumers."

There are some steps consumers can take to reduce the risk of this crime, but short term lenders and other financial institutions can also prevent it from happening by installing strong ID verification procedures. It may also be a good idea for employees to provide borrowers with a few steps that can be taken to avoid identity theft, such as:

- Shred all important documents: Online banking and shopping aren't the only things that cause identity theft risk. People who don't properly dispose of important documents could also become victims. For this reason, it is recommended to purchase a shredder, according to LearnVest. This device can help ensure that bank account or credit card numbers aren't stolen from the trash.

- Monitor accounts: One of the biggest mistakes consumers make is failing to monitor their bank and credit accounts. If someone becomes a victim of identity theft this can help people find clues. For example, a strange charge on credit card statements could be a major sign of this type of crime. It is also important for people to review credit reports to see if any accounts have been opened in their name.

- Use a credit card: Online shopping has become popular in the past decade, and people who do it frequently should use a credit card as opposed to a debit card. Credit providers often have much better consumer protections, so account holders likely won't be held responsible for fraudulent charges.