"One issue in asking 'concern' questions is that individuals' awareness of a problem can differ radically from their actions to mitigate it," says Chris Hoofnagle, a nationally recognized expert in information privacy law and senior fellow with the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.
|How concerned are you about having your identity stolen?|
|How concerned are you about having your identity stolen?||Total||Know an identity theft victim||Don't know a victim|
|Not very/not at all concerned||19%||12%||24%|
|Not very concerned||12%||7%||15%|
|Not at all concerned||7%||5%||9%|
Of those answering the poll, 40 percent identified themselves as being very concerned about identity theft, and 41 percent as somewhat concerned. The number goes up for people who know a victim -- 46 percent are very concerned versus 36 percent for those who do not personally know a crime victim.
"If you asked people if they were concerned about lead in products, they'd probably say yes, but what can they do about it?" Hoofnagle says. "Not buy products from China? Purchase a lead tester and measure everything in their home?
"The takeaway is to consider the level of concern, but pay more attention to what people are doing and what they'll consider doing," he says.
What are people doing?
In this case, concern about identity theft leads to actions designed to thwart it. Respondents who reported themselves as concerned were more likely to shred documents, 82 percent, than their happy-go-lucky compatriots, 52 percent. Notably, people who are uneasy about identity theft were much more likely to keep tabs on their credit reports. Fifty-three percent of concerned folks do it versus 30 percent of the unconcerned variety.