US shoppers fear credit card data theft - survey

Source: BitArmor Systems

A new survey of more than 400 consumers reveals that more than three of every four shoppers are concerned about companies losing their credit card information to hackers and other criminals this holiday season.

In a further sign of consumer unease, two- thirds of those responding to the survey say they will use their credit cards to pay for less than 25 percent of their holiday gift purchases.

The survey was conducted over the "Black Friday" shopping weekend by BitArmor Systems, the leader in data control software that helps corporate executives protect and manage sensitive data throughout their organizations. BitArmor conducted the survey along with news departments from WHAS-TV (Louisville), WTVF-TV (Nashville), WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh) and WBMA-TV (Birmingham).

The issue of identity theft also proved to be of strong concern: more than 40 percent of those responding said either they or someone they know has had their identity stolen. Almost 80 percent, meanwhile, said they were likely to stop shopping at a store where retailers are not taking adequate measure to protect their personal data, with 68 percent saying they are "extremely" likely to take their business elsewhere. (Two percent said they would continue shopping at the same store.)

The survey's results come in the aftermath of a CBS News "60 Minutes" report, which says that the theft of more than 94 million credit card numbers and customer records from the TJX retail chain, could have been prevented. The report says TJX, the parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshall's, was using "obsolete" data encryption to protect their customers' information; it cites an internal company e-mail that said, "It must be a risk we are willing to take for the sake of saving money."

"This should serve as a huge wakeup call to any company that works with sensitive payment card data; their customers are seeing what's going on, and they don't like it," said Mike Concordia, BitArmor's president. "Shoppers are increasingly concerned about what's happening to their data. It's reflected in fewer people using their credit cards, and it's reflected in them saying they'll shop at other stores if they don't feel their personal information is being adequately protected."

Survey respondents also said, by an overwhelming margin, that they are in favor of a national law which would require companies to publicly report any data breach that affects their customers. By a margin of greater than 11 to one, they said they would prefer comprehensive national legislation to existing state laws. The survey also found that 75 percent would tell their friends about companies that don't protect their data; only five percent said they are not concerned about the issue.

The survey was designed to restrict multiple responses from people; people who took the survey on their computer were automatically locked out if they tried to take it again.

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