Over 260 million people have been victims of data breaches and increased risk of identity theft since the Target revelations, yet nearly 80% have done nothing to protect their privacy or to guard their financial accounts from fraud, according to a new quarterly survey by Denver-based idRADAR Inc.
"There is a national data breach epidemic, and consumers shockingly show very few signs of concern. Most are taking no measures to protect themselves," says Tom Feige, CEO of idRADAR.
The poll results, based on 313 responses, showed that most people don't even take the time to change their passwords. Less than 10% adopt new passwords monthly and about 58% said they would only do it when forced to by a website or vendor.
Roughly 93% of the adults surveyed think that after a breach, they would want the company involved with the breach to offer them free credit monitoring.
Further, 70% of consumers say they still use their debit cards, despite the warnings by retailers of the increased risk of debit over credit cards.
"Clearly, consumers do not want to take responsibility for protecting themselves before or after a serious breach. They want someone else to worry about it," says Feige.
Fifty-four percent don't believe current credit card and identity theft monitoring services on the market are worth the money.
"Most people want to rely on the government to protect them," he says. "And they don't seem to care if their personal privacy rights are threatened."
According to the survey, 55% are more concerned about the threat of data breaches than about the government monitoring their private phone conversations or their email.
But government regulations on cyber-security are a hodge-podge of safeguards and are inconsistent from state to state, Feige says.
There is a lack of knowledge about the issue of cyber security, according to the survey. Over half of the people surveyed admitted they had not even heard of the recently well-publicized "Heartbleed" internet security flaw.
"People are not paying enough attention to this critical problem, and their lack of knowledge on the entire subject is frankly very alarming," says Feige. "Obviously there is a great need for education on this issue, and consumers must pressure Congress to act to enact safeguard regulations."