Most Americans—77%—fret about financial information and social security numbers being stolen or compromised, according to new research by MasterCard.
This fear runs so deep that consumers are less concerned about having their e-mail hacked (62%) or their home robbed (59%). Most shocking of all: 55% would rather have nude photos of themselves leaked online than have their financial information stolen.
Willing, but careless
MasterCard’s survey found that Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their personal information. About half—48%—believe they are most responsible for protecting their own financial information from being stolen or compromised.
There’s a critical gap between this attitude and behavior, however. MasterCard says respondents fail to recognize everyday habits that could put their data at high risk:
• Cobwebs around passwords. 92% of Americans polled feel they take precautions to protect their financial information—yet roughly half (46%) rarely or never change passwords for online financial accounts.
• “Type in the usual.” 44% use the same password for multiple online accounts. And more than a third (39%) have checked their financial data online on public networks.
Consumers told researchers that they are ready to embrace new ways to pay. With the U.S. liability shift associated with chip cards coming in mid-October, Americans want to feel empowered with new payment options:
• Most consumers (69%) use chip cards, or plan to begin soon.
• More than half (56%) currently use mobile digital payments via an app or website, or plan to try it soon.
Not willing to go it alone
“Today’s digital lifestyle means consumer concerns for online safety and security trumps physical security as a close second,” says Robert Siciliano, an independent identity theft and personal security expert quoted in MasterCard materials. “It’s great that consumers have heightened awareness, but while they may understand personal responsibility they still want to feel protected by the institutions who are also responsible for protecting their data.”
Additional survey findings:
• Americans believe there are more secure ways to pay today than ever before.
A majority (83%) of consumers are excited about new secure technologies helping protect their financial information and 77% feel there are more secure ways to pay than ever before.
Most people (88%) also trust that their payment network is arming them with secure technologies to protect them from fraud, and a majority (77%) feel that new technologies in the payment sector are having an overall positive impact on personal security.
• New payment technologies are becoming part of Americans’ everyday vernacular.
While some technologies are still growing in popularity, consumers already have some awareness of these new ways to pay. Three-quarters of Americans have heard of biometric payments and a majority (82%) have heard of contactless or tap-and-go payments.
• Millennials have the most confidence in a secure future ahead.
While the survey does not show big swings in behavior and technology adoption by generation, millennial Americans (45%) are least likely to believe that the risk of their financial information being stolen or compromised is going to increase in the next three years, compared to 58% of Gen-Xers and 61% of baby boomers.
“People of all generations want to take ownership of their financial information, they’re becoming more security conscious, and they’re actively embracing new technologies and services that will help keep them safe,” says Carolyn Balfany, senior vice-president of U.S. Product Delivery-EMV, MasterCard. “Our survey reveals there’s a sharp contrast between what people say or think they are doing to protect their information and what they actually do, but that’s understandable—we’re human.”