CHICAGO (6/27/14)--Roughly 80% of U.S. adults worry they will fall victim to identity theft, but most don't grasp what exactly puts them at risk, a TransUnion survey released Thursday has found.
While identity theft has ramped up in recent months--more than 13 million Americans were victimized last year--the majority of U.S. adults don't take steps to safeguard their information.
"From the time we're born, everyone in the world has their own identity, and the risk of having it stolen can come at any moment during your life and even after death," said TransUnion Vice President Julie Springer. "With a new victim falling prey to identity theft every two seconds, it's more important than ever to take protective measures."
The survey also found that more than half of adults don't know they can be victimized in stores, online and through social media.
While 60% believe shopping with card information online puts them at risk, only 34% of consumers believe using a credit or debit card at a retail store leaves them vulnerable.
This despite the fact that data breaches at retail stores have affected millions of people in recent months, including breaches at Target, Michaels and P.F. Chang's.
The Credit Union National Association, which continues to urge federal lawmakers to address data security relative to merchants, discovered that credit unions incurred $30.6 million in costs directly related to the Target breach.
Finally, the survey found that one-quarter of adults believe posting on social media sites poses the least risk of identity theft.
"(But) identity theft is happening everywhere, especially on social media where people are posting even more personal information and reusing the same passwords," Springer said. "Simple changes like adjusting privacy settings and strengthening your password can help ward off cyber thieves."