Consumers take steps to thwart ID thieves
"Concern drives behavior," says Hoofnagle. "That is a good sign because it shows that people feel as though they have some agency in fighting the crime."
What have you done to protect yourself against identity theft?
|For each item, please indicate whether this is something you have done to protect yourself against identity theft.||Total "yes" responses||Men||Women||Those with Internet access||Concerned with having identity stolen||Not concerned with having identity stolen|
|You regularly shred unnecessary documents containing sensitive information||76%||69%||83%||79%||82%||52%|
|You only use secure mailboxes such as an official USPS mailbox, P.O. Box or home mailbox you can lock||61%||59%||62%||60%||63%||51%|
|You avoid online banking||54%||58%||51%||48%||54%||55%|
|You check your credit reports regularly||49%||43%||54%||51%||53%||30%|
|You refuse to shop online||43%||41%||44%||36%||42%||47%|
|You requested a credit freeze on your credit files||19%||18%||21%||21%||23%||6%|
|You only pay your bills online||16%||16%||15%||19%||16%||13%|
|You haven't made any changes in your behavior to avoid identity theft||32%||35%||29%||33%||35%||19%|
Taken altogether, the results indicate that shredding unnecessary documents containing sensitive information is the most popular privacy protection step that Americans take. Seventy-six percent of Americans shred their papers.
"This is good news/bad news, anytime people take a step to protect themselves. But on the other hand, shredders are so overblown because basically no one wants to go through your trash," says James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin Strategy and Research. "They don't need to; they can go in the mail or on a desktop, anything that's not disgusting and is neatly organized."
Women (83 percent) were significantly more likely to destroy sensitive information than men (69 percent).
That difference can be explained by the fact that typically women act as household accountants. "Women tend to be the bill payers of the household and as such, are probably more aware of the need to shred documents since they are the ones managing the documents," says Litan.