More Than One-Tenth of US Consumers Fell Victim to Identity Theft in the Past Year

According to a new report, 11 percent of consumers living in the U.S. fell victims to identity theft over the past year.

By comparison, more than four-fifths (81 percent) of consumers said their identities were safe, while 8 percent admitted they didn’t know.

The results of the survey suggest a need for users to adopt basic security best practices, such as avoiding public Wi-Fi, investing in antivirus software and exercising caution when confronted with suspicious content online.

Consumer Carelessness Leads to Identity Theft

For the study, titled “The Cyber Hygiene Index: Measuring the Riskiest States,” security firm Webroot commissioned the Ponemon Institute to survey 4,290 U.S. consumers about their level of digital security readiness. Their responses revealed that consumers aren’t doing all they can to strengthen their digital security.

For instance, a quarter of respondents said that a confirmed identity theft incident had minimal to no impact on their level of caution when accessing the web and sharing personal data. Reflecting this fact, 14 percent of respondents didn’t change their behavior following the event. However, 54 percent of consumers did change their passwords and 37 percent enrolled with a credit monitoring provider (37 percent) after an identity theft incident.

Despite this, the survey revealed that 54 percent of consumers don’t use identity protection services. This is problematic given that 21 percent of respondents reported suffering more than 10 malware infections and 23 percent said they received more than 20 phishing emails over a 12-month period.

The Insecure States of America

The authors of the report used consumers’ responses and their places of residence to build a list of the riskiest states in the U.S. Florida earned the top spot, followed by Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico and Illinois. By comparison, the report ranked New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Utah, Rhode Island and Minnesota as the least risky states.

David Dufour, vice president of engineering and cybersecurity at Webroot, said the list of risky states points to deficiencies concerning how Americans approach their digital security overall.

“Regardless of the region, the riskiest states index shows that many people in the U.S. are jeopardizing their safety with inadequate cybersecurity practices,” Dufour said. “To help fight widespread threats like ransomware and phishing attacks, internet users should run a security solution on their personal devices and make sure that all security and other software applications are up to date.”

David Bisson

Contributing Editor

David Bisson is an infosec news junkie and security journalist. He works as Contributing Editor for Graham Cluley...