With companies reporting data breaches seemingly every week, more people are becoming victims of identity theft, according to a survey of more than 1,850 Americans sponsored by Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.
The survey found that 20 percent of respondents have been a victim of identity fraud or theft. Ninety-five percent of respondents said they are concerned that someone might fraudulently impersonate them to ruin their credit standing and put them in debt, a statistic that rose almost 20 percent from 2000.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported that their or a family member’s credit card was fraudulently used to charge purchases, up from 19 percent in 2000. Twenty-seven percent reported that they or a family member experienced the theft of a purse or wallet, while 8 percent experienced fraudulent checks written on their or a family member’s checking account.
Consumers Want Accountability
Eighty-seven percent of respondents think that companies that fail to adequately protect the confidential information they have on customers and others should be required by law to pay to restore consumers’ credit ratings. Sixty-five percent of those surveyed would like to see these companies fined, and 63 percent want these companies charged with a crime.
Giving Away Your Identity
Seventy-eight percent of respondents would give their Social Security number to a credit card company when applying for an account. Fifty-four percent of people surveyed would give their Social Security number to an auto dealer when establishing credit, 37 percent to a phone company when establishing service, and 53 percent to a college or other educational institution.
Sixty-four percent of respondents have disclosed confidential information online or by telephone in the past six months. “People need to be more protective of their personal information, particularly with whom and how they share it, whether online, over the phone or in person,” said Dan McCabe, vice president of Chubb & Son and marketing manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. Regarding pre-approved credit card solicitations, 28 percent of people surveyed throw them away without shredding them or tearing them up.
A Quick Fix? Or a Long, Costly Process?
Twenty-eight percent of people surveyed believe it would take more than a year to regain their identity and clear their credit. Forty percent of respondents think it would cost $1,000 or more to regain their identity and clear their credit.
“The survey demonstrates not only the increased threat of identity theft but also the increased concern felt by consumers.” said McCabe.
Impulse Research of Los Angeles conducted the survey in May 2005 for Chubb. The survey provided a more extensive look at the identity theft problem than a survey Chubb sponsored in 2000.
Chubb provides free identity theft coverage to its homeowners insurance customers in nearly all 50 states, as well as in Washington, D.C. The coverage reimburses customers for a variety of identity fraud expenses, up to a maximum of $25,000 for each occurrence, subject to a $500 deductible.
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