Around one in ten Brits has switched banks or retailers over concerns about the way their privacy and identities were protected, according to a survey from Unisys.
The poll of 970 UK adults, part of the bi-annual global Unisys Security Index, reveals that cyber-security is the public's chief concern, with 85% of respondents worried, and over 50% "seriously concerned", about bank card fraud and identity theft.
In total, three quarters of British people say they will not shop or bank with providers they cannot trust to safeguard their personal information. In fact, UK consumers are more concerned about ID theft and bank card fraud than meeting their financial commitments, of which only 22% are seriously concerned.
Unisys says that with around 10% of people showing "disloyalty" and switching their banks or retailers over security and privacy concerns, "conditions are ripe" for the increased competition emerging in the financial services sector, which is traditionally associated with low attrition rates.
Benjamin Williamson, senior economist, Centre for Economics and Business Research, says: "This is bad news for a lot of companies, in particular retailers and the financial services industry which have traditionally relied on customer loyalty to maintain a steady and healthy customer base. The economic meltdown has effectively unseated the status quo. In our own research, we've seen that consumers are challenging their suppliers, over IT and customer service. But the jury's out as to whether they're addressing these challenges and if not, what the outcome will be."
However, the research reveals that Brits may not always hold themselves to the high standards of protection they expect from online bankers and retailers. While around two thirds of consumers regularly limit access to their personal information on social media sites and shred financial and medical records, they are not taking other basic steps to protect their identity.
For instance, 65% fail to regularly use or update passwords for mobile devices and 54% admit that they do not regularly adopt or update 'hard to guess' passwords. Furthermore, 39% admit to rarely thinking about privacy and protection when shopping or banking online and more than one Brit in six confess to putting convenience before privacy concerns from transacting online.
Neil Fisher, VP, global security solutions, Unisys, says: "While the Internet age has transformed society for the better, it's also introduced a whole new set of risks. While I'm encouraged that people are waking up to these risks we still have too much of a hit and miss approach to our online security, which will only serve as an invitation to criminals and even terrorists to take our money and steal our identities. If we really want to protect ourselves, we have to take responsibility for our own actions."