Cardholders still dropping the ball when it comes to basic ID theft prevention

Four in 10 people with a credit or debit card have provided their full Social Security number in an online form in the past month, according to a new report from CompareCards, as Americans continue to wrestle with how best to combat identity theft two years after the Equifax data breach.

basic ID theft prevention

For the second straight year, CompareCards marked the anniversary of the announcement of that breach by asking Americans with a credit card or debit card their perceptions and feelings about breaches as well as what they had done in the past year to protect themselves from identity theft.

CompareCards asked about 10 actions that can help detect, prevent or protect yourself from identity theft and found that 95% of Americans said they had done at least one of them, but way too few people had done many of them. We also found that one of the most important bits of data about any American is being given out more often online than most would have guessed.

Key findings

  • 40% of cardholders have provided their full Social Security number in an online form in the past month. However, 95% of cardholders are at least somewhat hesitant to provide personal identifiable information online in case of a data breach.
  • 91% think data breaches are becoming more common.
  • 95% of cardholders said they took some sort of action last year to protect themselves from identity theft, and 44% said they’re much more diligent about looking for signs of ID theft, a 3% rise from 2018.
  • However, many credit cardholders are still dropping the ball when it comes to basic steps in ID theft prevention such as reviewing credit card statements, regularly checking credit scores, reviewing credit reports and changing passwords.
  • 42% of cardholders said they will claim damages from the Equifax data breach settlement. That includes about 1 in 4 who will claim monetary damages, and another 16% who will claim the free credit monitoring service. 37% of respondents said they were not affected by the breach.
  • About 1 in 5 affected by the Equifax breach will not claim damages. The main reason stated is that it’s too much of a hassle (26%) and/or they don’t trust Equifax with their personal information (25%). Twenty-two percent simply don’t think the compensation is worth the effort.

“To many Americans, data breaches just aren’t that surprising anymore, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to let your guard down,” said Matt Schulz, Chief Industry Analyst and CompareCards.

“Being jaded about the insecurity of our financial information only makes the bad guys’ job easier. Consumers can take simple steps to protect themselves against identity theft and fraud like being careful about where and when you provide your full Social Security number, monitoring credit scores and regularly checking credit reports for any unauthorized activity.”

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Cardholders still dropping the ball when it comes to basic ID theft prevention