Recent data breaches like the ones at Panera Bread and Saks Fifth Avenue highlight the continued threat to Americans’ personally identifiable information. like credit card numbers, addresses and phone numbers. According to a recent Harris Poll survey conducted on behalf of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA), 48% of all U.S. adults believe it is at least somewhat likely that identity theft will cause them some financial loss this year.
More than 80% of those surveyed also said they are somewhat concerned about the ability of businesses to safeguard their financial and personal information, with half of those saying they either extremely or very concerned.
Data security breaches cost U.S. consumers $19.4 billion last year, and four in five of those surveyed said they’ve changed their behavior based on the threat of breaches that affect credit and debit card processing systems.
Gregory Anton, chair of AICPA’s national financial literacy commission, said:
Protecting your information is an ongoing process that requires you to be vigilant, identify where you can improve and take action to firm up your safeguards. This means regularly monitoring your credit card and bank statement and periodically checking your credit report for anything that looks out of the ordinary.
That may seem obvious, buy 35% of those in the Harris survey had never checked their credit reports, while two-thirds of those who had found errors on the reports that needed to be corrected.
In addition to worries about leaked personal information, 60% of those surveyed had either themselves or an immediate family member been a victim of a fraud scheme. Just over a third had received a call or email from someone impersonating the IRS, and nearly 30% had an existing credit card number stolen.
More survey results and the survey methodology are available at the AICPA website.