Fifth of Americans hit by account hackers

Fifth of Americans hit by account hackers

Around 21% of US adults have had their bank account details stolen by online thieves, according to research published by European smart card vendor Gemalto.

The survey of 1000 US adults conducted by TNS Sofres for Gemalto found that consumers are wary of security measures implemented by banks and e-commerce firms.

Over half of respondents (57%) say they are afraid that account passwords will be stolen when they banking via the Internet. Over a third (38%) also say they don't trust online payments.

The biggest concern for respondents is identity theft, with three quarters worried about having their ID stolen. Bank account hijacking is also high on the list of concerns, with 44% fearful. The same amount are worried about using their credit card to pay for purchases made online.

The research reveals widespread concern about digital security, with only 22% of those questioned feeling 'very good' about the safety of digital technology.

However, the survey does offer incentives for retailers to improve protection, with 40% of Americans saying they would make more purchases via the Internet if online security was reinforced. Just under half (49%) say they would visit new merchant sites. However 87% of Americans saying being at a "well known" Web site is "reassuring" when paying online.

The survey reveal 42% of respondents believed friends and family are the most reliable source for security advice, followed by digital security vendors (27%). Banks fared poorly with just 7.6% of respondents considering them the most reliable source of security information.

Around a third of respondents (27%) say they would "consider" using a personal portable security device to help secure Internet payments and online accounts.

Gemalto says the research shows that banks and other e-commerce providers "have a long way to go to build consumer trust in the online channel".

It is unsurprising that so many Americans are concerned about online security, considering 8.3 million - around four per cent of the US population - fell victim to identity theft in 2005, according to a report released by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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