Despite almost half of U.S. consumers (49 percent) believing their security habits make them vulnerable to information fraud or identity theft, 51 percent admit to reusing passwords/PINs across multiple accounts, such as email, computer login, phone passcode, and bank accounts.
That is according to Shred-it’s recent Consumer Fraud Awareness Survey, which exposes consumer concerns, habits, and knowledge of information security and fraud.
Consumers are not only putting their digital security at risk, but their habits toward physical information security also make them vulnerable to fraud or identity theft.
While nearly 2 in 10 consumers (17 percent) are concerned they could fall victim to a physical security breach, nearly 3 in 10 consumers (27 percent) admit they do not shred paper or physical documents containing sensitive information before throwing them away.
Although consumers may be inadvertently putting their own information security at risk, the study also found they don’t trust companies to keep their personal information safe.
Forty-three percent of consumers believe the personal information they share with brands and companies today could be vulnerable to a security breach. With that, 40 percent say they would stop doing business with a brand or company if they previously suffered a security breach.
Additional findings from the survey include:
Consumers are unsure how to determine if they were victims of fraud and do not understand how to report and remediate fraud/identity theft.
• More than one-third of consumers (39 percent) have been a victim of fraud or identity theft.
• Nearly 3 in 10 consumers (27 percent) admit they do not know how to find out if they’ve become a victim of fraud or identity theft.
• When asked how they found out they were a victim of fraud, 33 percent found out by monitoring their own accounts for suspicious activity, 29 percent were alerted by a business about a security breach of their information, and 24 percent discovered it by accident.
• If they became a victim of fraud, 1 in 5 consumers (20 percent) admit they would not know how to report and remediate it.
Consumers believe they can identify fraudulent emails or calls.
• While the majority of consumers (72 percent) think they could determine if an email or phone call they receive is part of a fraudulent scam, 16 percent of consumers say they could not and another 12 percent of consumers don’t know.
• Baby boomers (66 percent) are the least likely to believe they could determine if an email or phone call they receive is part of a fraudulent scam or not, compared to Gen Z’s (72 percent) and millennials (74 percent).
Consumers store paper documents containing sensitive information, such as W2 and 1099 forms and Social Security cards, in risky ways.
• Nearly 30 percent of consumers store paper documents containing sensitive, personal information in a box, desk drawer, or unlocked cabinet at home or work.
• More than 1 in 5 consumers (22 percent) admit to not storing or keeping paper documents containing sensitive information.
• When it comes to tax documents, such was W2 and 1099 forms, consumers aren’t storing the documents for the recommended period of time before disposing of them. While 31 percent of consumers keep tax documents for more than seven years before disposing of them, 26 percent keep them for one to three years, 21 percent keep them for four to seven years, and 13 percent keep them for less than one year.
Baby boomers have some of the safest information-security habits, despite stereotypes suggesting otherwise.
• Baby boomers (47 percent) are the least likely to reuse passwords/PINs across multiple accounts, such as email, computer login, phone passcode, and bank accounts, compared to millennials (55 percent) and Gen Z’s (61 percent).
• Baby boomers (26 percent) are the least likely to store paper documents containing sensitive, personal information in an unlocked cabinet at home or work, compared to millennials (33 percent) and Gen Z’s (31 percent).
• Baby boomers (80 percent) are more likely to shred paper or physical documents containing sensitive information before throwing them away, compared to millennials (67 percent) and Gen Z’s (69 percent).
• More than 9 in 10 baby boomers (91 percent) closely monitor their financial account activity — such as bank statements, credit reports, and credit card statements — each week, compared to millennials (85 percent) and Gen Z’s (86 percent).
For more information about Shred-it’s Consumer Fraud Awareness Survey and to download the complete findings, visit shredit.com/ifaw.