Americans Worry About Identity Theft, but Majority Don’t Do Much About it

From Generation Z to Baby Boomers, national survey reveals most adults are not investing to help protect their identity and have hundreds more online accounts than they realize.

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NORTHBROOK, Ill., August 10, 2021 – Americans rank identity as the third most important item to insure (behind cars and homes), but four out of five don’t pay a provider to protect their personal information, according to a new Allstate study.

“The vulnerability of personal information to theft and fraud continues to rise as cybercriminals become more sophisticated,” said Emily Snell, president of Allstate Identity Protection. “Unfortunately, many adults underestimate the risks before it’s too late. Identity protection services provide an essential layer of security, notifying consumers when their information may be at risk and helping repair the damage if it is compromised.”

Many have a false sense of confidence in the security of their information.

The national survey explored where adults stand on the security of their personal information and how prepared they are to reduce the risk of identity theft, which could include paying a provider to monitor credit, financial transactions, government records, and the dark web.

Although most adults (60%) say they feel in control of who has access to their personal information, there is a stark disconnect between perception and reality. From Generation Z (86%) to Baby Boomers (81%), most respondents believe that fewer than 25 companies have access to their personal information. In reality, the number is far greater: users have an average of 350 online accounts, according to Allstate Identity Protection.

Anyone could be at risk.

As Americans began sharing more of their personal data and information online during the pandemic, Allstate Identity Protection found unemployment fraud spiked more than 17,000% year-over-year and tax fraud grew 258% in 2020. False assumptions about security and inadequate precautions can put personal information at risk. Nearly every generation is susceptible:

  • A total of 60% of adults have been locked out of their accounts that have been taken over by someone. Generation Z often falls victim to this the most (74%), followed by Generation X (59%), Baby Boomers (59%) and Millennials (57%).
  • Nearly half of adults (49%) have had unauthorized charges on their bank or credit card accounts, with the violations highest among Generation Z (62%) followed by Baby Boomers (50%), Generation X (48%) and Millennials (46%).
  • A total of 70% of adults say their employer experienced a data breach, compromising their personal information, such as a W-2, bank routing number or bank account number. This rises dramatically the longer a person is in the workplace: Generation Z (48%), Millennials (62%), Generation X (66%), and Baby Boomers (98%).

What can consumers do?

Consumers trust companies like Allstate to protect them from new and evolving risks. In fact, according to a separate survey from Morning Consult, consumers ranked security and protection of their personal data highest in net importance (87%) for financial services to ensure their trust.

To protect accounts, privacy and identity:

  • When possible, use two-factor authentication.
  • If an email seems suspicious, do not respond or click on any links.
  • Make sure the recovery information associated with personal accounts, like a phone number, is up to date.
  • Make sure software is up to date with the latest version, especially those including security patches.
  • Place a fraud alert on credit reports or even consider freezing credit.
  • Consider paying a provider to help protect personal information and finances.

Among adults without an identity protection plan, nearly half are interested in such services, especially Millennials (54%). Allstate is advocating for a life well protected with Allstate Identity Protection: a service that helps protects people from identity fraud, while giving them more control over the private information they share through online accounts.

“People give away their personal information so freely, yet they aren’t willing to pay to protect it due to a false sense of security. They believe other financial institutions, such as their bank, protect them from fraud for free,” continued Snell. “But that can just be the tip of the iceberg: consumers have hundreds of financial and online accounts beyond their bank and services like identity restoration and replacing stolen funds may not be provided.”

Key features of Allstate Identity Protection:

  • Detects a wide range of fraud signals through identity, credit and financial monitoring and sends rapid alerts.
  • Shows consumers their online accounts and alerts them if their information has been compromised.
  • Keeps consumers in sync with overall identity health with monthly emails and dark web and social media monitoring.
  • Provides 24/7 customer support, best-in-class identity restoration and up to $1 million in reimbursement for Premier customers.
  • Offers a tax refund advance for customers who experience tax fraud to ease the financial disruption while they’re going through the resolution process – a unique feature to Allstate Identity Protection.

About the survey

This poll was conducted Dec. 16-18, 2020, among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data was weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points. The survey was conducted by Morning Consult.