The folks at EZShield, and ID theft protection and restoration company, recently published a must-read press release. It certainly underscores the need for a locking mailbox for comprehensive identity theft protection, so it peaked our interest!
In summary: EZShield poll reveals that Americans need to increase vigilance about ID theft, while they overestimate impact of social networks on productivity. After a decade of mounting public discussion of the dangers of identity theft, a new poll shows that Americans have a broad awareness of the issue. However, some misunderstandings about the sources and impact of the threat remain.
For your convenience, we are including the press release, originally published here, below:
New Survey: Americans Aware of ID Theft, Underestimate Impact on Productivity
Palo Alto, CA (Dec 16, 2009) – After a decade of mounting public discussion of the dangers of identity theft, a new poll shows that Americans have a broad awareness of the issue. However, some misunderstandings about the sources and impact of the threat remain.
A Zogby poll commissioned by the identity theft protection and restoration service EZShield has revealed that 34 percent of Americans believe identity theft is most likely to occur online. The reality is that merely a tenth occurs on the Web, according to research firm Javelin Group. Many consumers may not fully appreciate the offline risk areas – for example, mail theft – and have not taken measures to protect themselves.
“At a time of year when packages are sitting on doorsteps and a mere address label or transaction record are enough to enable identity theft, consumers need to increase their vigilance and take action to protect themselves,” said John Herr, CEO, EZShield.
In terms of sources of ID theft, the survey also found that:
- 34 percent think identity theft most likely results from personal information being stolen from government agencies, medical offices or other businesses
- 14 percent of respondents believe it comes from stolen mail or trash
- 6 percent believe it occurs shopping at brick-and-mortar stores or in restaurants
Concerning productivity, responses showed that:
- Only 2 percent considered identity theft the biggest drain on workday productivity
- 42 percent thought social networks are the biggest drain on workday productivity
- 25 percent thought commuting in traffic is the biggest drain on workplace productivity
- 10 percent named other online activities like shopping and fantasy sports as productivity drains
In actuality, offline theft accounts for 90 percent of identity theft. Americans thus appear to be overestimating the threat of identity theft online while seriously underestimating the dangers in other areas.
On average, it takes an individual 330 hours – or the equivalent of eight work weeks – over the course of 4-6 months to repair the damage, according to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center. Most of those hours need to occur during the workday, when victims can contact banks, credit bureaus, and other relevant offices.
“When you aggregate the published research data, we’re looking at more than 3 billion hours lost to identity theft in the US every year,” added John Herr. “The bottom line is that there are still major misperceptions out there about identity theft. We’re working to dispel those misperceptions, and to help people preserve both their privacy and productivity in the face of these still very real threats.”
In light of the misperceptions revealed by the survey, EZShield strongly urges consumers to take protective action to protect their identities both online and off through some simple steps:
- Shred bank, credit card, and other statements with printed account numbers
- Get a locking mailbox
- Create unique online passwords, change them regularly and don’t keep them on post-its or paper out in the open
- Refuse to use your social security number, date of birth, or other such data as a password when dealing with call centers and businesses
- Enroll with a comprehensive identity protection and restoration service such as EZShield that monitors for both online and offline breaches and helps victims restore their identity and avoid hundreds of hours of hassle if a breach should occur
About the Survey
Zogby International was commissioned by EZShield to conduct an online survey of 3,779 adults. A sampling of Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate from November 20, 2009 to November 23, 2009. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population. The margin of error is +/- 1.6 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
EZShield pioneered identity theft protection nearly a decade ago and today uses its experience and expertise to anticipate all forms of identity-related fraud, providing affordable and simple products and services that help shield your complete identity, on all fronts, all the time. EZShield provides protection services that extend well beyond credit monitoring to address the entire spectrum of identity fraud sources including online hacking, mail fraud, credit cards, checks, public records, memberships and several others. For more information, please visit http://www.ezshield.com.
Take home message from this news:
Americans overestimate the amount of identity theft that occurs online. In actuality, only 10% of identity theft occurs online, while 90% occurs offline.
The majority of identity theft occurs via “low-tech” methods such as stolen wallets, stolen mail, and stolen trash. Learn more here.