Bankrate (Nasdaq: RATE) today released the findings of a national poll which found that 8 out of 10 Americans are concerned about their identity being stolen.
Furthermore, over one-third (34%) of Americans know someone who has been a victim of identity theft. The poll is included in this month's segment of Bankrate's Financial Literacy Series: Protect your identity. To view Bankrate's Financial Literacy 2008 - Guide to Building Personal Wealth, go to bankrate.com/financialliteracy.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were approximately 800,000 consumer complaints filed in 2007. Of those complaints, 32 percent involved identity theft. The total dollar amount in reported fraud losses was over $1.2 billion.
"Identity theft is a growing concern among Americans, but there are steps consumers can take to protect themselves," said Julie Bandy, editor in chief at Bankrate.com. "Bankrate's guide prepares consumers with the advice they need to keep their assets safe and protect their identity," Bandy added.
Other key findings of the poll include:
- Of the 77 percent of respondents that have Internet service, 36 percent avoid Internet shopping.
- Eight out of 10 Americans express worry about having their identity stolen.
- One-third of Americans (34 percent) know someone who has been a victim of identity theft. In the Northeast, it's closer to one in four (28 percent) while in the West almost one in two people (44 percent) know an ID theft victim.
- Respondents who reported themselves as concerned about identity theft were more likely to shred documents, (82%), versus those who are not concerned (52%). Notably, people who are uneasy about identity theft were much more likely to keep tabs on their credit reports. Fifty-three percent of concerned folks do it versus 30 percent of the unconcerned variety.
- Women (83 percent) were significantly more likely to destroy sensitive information than men (69 percent).
- Only two out of 10 Americans (19 percent) have used the new credit freeze services to protect their credit.
- The Internet tops the list of ID theft anxiety-instigators, with 45 percent of people fearing online fraud the most, while 25 percent rank leaks from businesses as their primary concern.
- Out of those who answered the survey, 77 percent have Internet access. Of those with Internet, 36 percent say they try to protect themselves from fraud by not shopping on the Internet. Nearly half, 48 percent, avoid online banking.
The national random-digit-dialed phone study of 1,006 adults 18 or older was conducted for Bankrate by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. The surveys were conducted from April 4, 2008 through April 6, 2008. The sample was weighted by demographic factors including age, gender, race, education and census region to ensure reliable and accurate representation of adults in U.S. households. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points.