PREVENTING ID THEFT
While there were multiple security errors committed, one in particular stood out because of its frequency – reusing the same password online. At least 8 in 10 people who are online have recycled a password by using it for more than one application or website. In fact, 22% of those surveyed said that they use the same password every time.
Even in the face of this, and other, security lapses, the poll found out that most people are very worried about ID theft. Almost half of those surveyed felt that falling prey to ID theft would be worse than discovering that their homes had been burgled.
Along with reusing passwords, the survey found four additional bad data security behaviors common among American adults:
Getting online at a public location
Even though the “free wi-fi” signs that abound these days may seem like a good deal, they’re not. Almost half (48 percent) of U.S. adults have used a public Wi-Fi network in the past year, and 67 percent of Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 22) used a public network to get online. Very few public wi-fi networks are able to offer encryption security in instances where everybody uses the same password and hotspot, which is generally how public wi-fi works. You will always be leaving yourself open to ID theft when using them.
Storing sensitive info on a device
Almost half of those surveyed have saved their passwords on their computers or phones and more than one in three have saved their payment info on their devices. It makes losing that device akin to losing your wallet. If you’re one of those users who use the same password in multiple locations, then you’re even more vulnerable to ID theft.
There are a few additional security lapses that don’t originate in the digital world, but still bear mentioning:
Leave some cards at home
One form of ID theft that is still common is the theft of Social Security numbers. They are still required for a variety of transactions. One in three Americans always carry their Social Security card on them.
Tossing mail without shredding it
Direct mail is not dead. In fact, in the last few years it has gained in popularity as our email boxes become more and more jammed with spam. Often times the pieces of highly targeted “junk” mail will contain some kind of personal information. And of course, credit card statements, medical forms and other sensitive documents also come through the US mail. More than one in four of those surveyed have thrown out mail that contained personal information without shredding it first.
ID theft happens every day. Although some forms of large-scale ID theft are beyond our control, keeping yourself safe only takes a bit of effort and common sense.