Naked pictures or financial info? Users would rather thieves stole the former

Every day it seems information security is ruling the headlines, Americans are (perhaps understandably) feeling insecure about the security of their financial information. In fact, according to a new survey from MasterCard, 77 percent are anxious about their financial information and social security numbers being stolen or compromised and this fear runs so deep that consumers are less concerned about having their e-mail hacked (62 percent) or their home robbed (59 percent).

But perhaps most shocking is that 55 percent would rather have naked pictures of themselves leaked online than have their financial information stolen.

While the good news is that Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their financial information, few may recognize the everyday habits that could be putting them at high risk.

  • Ninety-two percent of Americans feel they take precautions to protect their financial information, yet roughly half (46 percent) rarely or never change password or online financial accounts.
  • 44 percent use the same password for multiple online accounts, and more than a third (39 percent) have checked their financial data online on public networks.

However, consumers are ready to embrace new ways to pay. With the U.S. liability shift less than three months away, Americans want to feel empowered with new payment options.

  • A majority of consumers (69 percent) use chip cards or plan to use them soon.
  • In addition, more than half (56 percent) currently use mobile digital payments via an app or website or plan to try it soon.

“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,” said Carolyn Balfany, SVP of U.S. Product Delivery – EMV, MasterCard. “In today’s digital age, we need the strong combination of what we all can do ourselves to keep our information as safe as possible and what we are doing at MasterCard to bring the latest innovations in safety and security to our cardholders.”

Additional findings include:

  • Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their personal information. About half (48 percent) of consumers believe they are most responsible for protecting their own financial information from being stolen or comprised.
  • Americans believe there are more secure ways to pay today than ever before. A majority (83 percent) of consumers are excited about new secure technologies helping protect their financial information and 77 percent feel there are more secure ways to pay than ever before. Most people (88 percent) also trust that their payment network is arming them with secure technologies to protect them from fraud, and a majority (77 percent) 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 percent) have heard of contactless or tap-and-go payments.
  • The Millennial generation has 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 percent) 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 percent of Gen-Xers and 61 percent of Baby Boomers.
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