J.D. Power and Associates report: Online commentary points to higher risk of identity theft for younger consumersMortgagePress.comJ.D. Power and Associates, identity theft, Generation Y, Identity Theft Report
Younger consumersthose included in Generation Ytend to be at
higher risk for identity theft, but are less concerned with the
threat than are consumers in the Generation X and Baby Boomer
demographics, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Identity
The inaugural report, conducted by the J.D. Power and Associates
Web Intelligence Division, analyzes Internet postings from 70
million blogs and discussion boards that occurred between February
2008 and January 2009. The report is designed to provide executives
in the financial services, credit protection, banking and insurance
industries with ongoing measures of consumer attitudes regarding
perceived risks and other issues pertaining to identity theft, and
how these attitudes are influencing consumers shopping and buying
Online conversations about identity theft indicate that 83
percent of posters in the Baby Boomer generation (those between the
ages of 45 and 63) say they have a high level of concern about
identity theft, compared with 79 percent of those in Generation X
(ages 31 to 44) and only 47 percent of those in Generation Y (ages
19 to 30). Highly concerned online postersthose who proactively
protect their identitycomprise 72 percent of posters discussing
identity theft, while 24 percent say they are moderately concerned
and 4 percent report a low level of concern.
"The differences in levels of concern regarding identity theft
among the different generations can be partially attributed to
their differing levels of technological awareness," said Carter
Truong, senior manager in the J.D. Power and Associates Web
Intelligence Division. "Younger consumers tend to be more
tech-savvy than older consumers, which gives them several benefits
in protecting against identity theft. For example, their personal
computers tend to be better protected and theyre more likely to
recognizeand avoidphishing scams than are older generations.
However, younger people also tend to have more of a presence
online, leaving them open to more chances for identity theft."
The report also finds that women are more polarized in their
level of concern than are men. Seventy-eight percent of women
report being highly concerned about identity theft, and 6 percent
say they have low levels of concern, compared with 67 percent of
men with high levels of concern and 3 percent with low levels of
"Women tend to discuss identity theft in a more reactive state,
meaning that many online conversations were triggered by having
already fallen victim," said Truong. "However, more men than women
fall into the moderately concerned category and discuss identity
theft in their Web postings on a more proactive level. Men seem to
be more aware of how to prevent identity theft, but this awareness
often gives them a false sense of security. They know the risks of
identity theft but don't show much sign of changing their behaviors
to prevent it."
Online commentary indicates that, while people say they are
aware of identity theft issues on social networking sites such as
Myspace and Facebook, a majority do not take security into
consideration when creating their profiles. More often, people
report changing their profiles to avoid embarrassmentfor example,
to keep a boss from seeing a particular picture.
"While social networking sites can be a hot spot for identity
theft, people see these sites as a way to express themselves, and
limiting or changing their profiles makes them feel like they're
censoring their identity," said Truong. "While communicating
online, people are unwilling to sacrifice this self-expression as a
way to prevent identity theft."
The report suggests the following tips to help consumers prevent
Be aware of what people can see online. Ensure social networking
pages dont contain more information than you feel comfortable with
someone easily accessing, and utilize any available privacy
settings provided by the site. Protect your information. Minimize
putting sensitive information at risk by buying and using a paper
shredder, and not using a wallet or purse as a place to store
Be careful with mobile devices. As cell phones, MP3 players and
gaming devices become increasingly multi-functional, consumers need
to ensure that their devices are equipped with security functions
to protect sensitive informationwhich is especially important with
smartphones, where consumers are increasingly conducting mobile
banking and browsing the Internet.
Know your own finances. Consumers should request their credit
reports regularly from an authorized organization, and frequently
check bank and credit card transactions for fraudulent charges.
Requesting your credit report regularly for this purpose does not
adversely affect your FICO score, according to the Fair Isaac
Don't be afraid to ask for help. For those who don't have the
time or knowledge to thoroughly protect themselves from identity
theft, companies such as LifeLock, Equifax and Debix can monitor
consumers' financial activity for a minimal monthly fee.
For more information, visit www.JDPower.com.