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Consumers more aware after data breaches

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Retail data breaches have consumers more aware of the need to protect their identity during the busy holiday shopping season, according to a new survey from Experian.

In fact, more than 70 percent of respondents shopping in stores said they plan to stay aware of their surroundings when shopping. Consumers also expect retailers to keep their information safe: 79 percent would like to hear from retailers as to how those retailers plan to protect personal and credit card information – before the holiday shopping starts.

However, the survey demonstrates that consumers could do a little more to protect their own information. For example, of those planning to shop online, nearly 40 percent still don't check to see if the site is secure. In-store, only 41 percent of respondents cover the PIN pad at registers when entering that information, leaving them exposed to "shoulder surfers."

"Many of this season's holiday shoppers received retail data breach notifications during the past few years and they feel that their identities are at risk more than ever before, whether shopping online or in-store," said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education for Experian's ProtectMyID. "However, consumers should understand that it's not just about retailers keeping their information secure; often an identity thief only needs a shopper's momentary lapse in focus to walk away with an unintended 'holiday gift' of personal information."

More survey results:

Shoppers' game plan

  • Ninety-five percent of survey respondents anticipate shopping at a physical store, while 86 percent believe they will shop online via a computer and 41 percent will make purchases online via a mobile device. (However, 30 percent of consumers believe their identities are more at risk when shopping online.)
  • Forty percent of surveyed consumers plan to shop with cash more often due to the recent retail data breaches.

Retail breach victims* take action

  • Retail breach victims plan to step up safety measures with in-store shopping. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of in-store shoppers said they would not leave a purse or a wallet in an unattended car while shopping, 75 percent plan to carry a closed wallet or purse while shopping and fifty percent plan to use a credit card or cash instead of a debit card.
  • Retail breach victims also demonstrate greater awareness and caution when shopping online, with 67 percent checking to see if a site is secure before making purchases and 61 percent logging out of personal accounts after shopping.

Tips to protect your identity while holiday shopping

  • Minimize wallet contents – Unnecessary items, like extra credit cards or a checkbook, can raise identity theft risks in the event that the wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Keep it covered – Protect your PIN when paying with a debit card by using your free hand or your body to obscure the keypad from the view of others around you.
  • Connect with caution – Do Internet shopping from a secure connection. It is easier for identity thieves to steal information over public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Stay secure – Shop only on websites that protect customer information; look for an "s" after "http" in the web address (https://) and the image of a secured padlock.
  • Be informed – Review credit reports and bank and credit card statements during and after the holidays to watch for potentially fraudulent transactions.  
  • Have a partner – Consider enrolling in an identity protection membership, such as Experian's ProtectMyID.

* Survey respondents who acknowledged having received a breach notification.

Survey methodology
The online survey was conducted by Edelman Berland on behalf of Experian from Oct. 29, 2014, through Nov. 3, 2014, among 1,005 adults ages 18 and older residing in the United States. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.


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