Survey: NJ Residents Worried About Identity Theft
Have you been a victim of identity theft? If not, do you know someone who has been?
Forty-eight percent of New Jersey residents said they or someone they know has been a victim of identity theft, according to a survey released on Nov. 12 by Experian's ProtectMyID.
In addition, 68 percent admitted they are concerned about identity theft, but not everyone is doing all they can to protect themselves.
"Only about a-third, 36 percent, password protect their smartphone or tablet and only 46 percent of New Jersey residents who responded to the survey said that they shred cancelled checks," said Becky Frost, senior manager of consumer education for Experian's ProtectMyID.
Almost half of respondents don't use different passwords for each online account or website, and just 41 percent know which statements or bills to expect every month so that they can be better able to notice if one may be missing.
Data breaches have been in the news a lot lately and the survey revealed a large percentage of New Jersey residents have been affected. Forty-four precent said they or someone they know has been imnpacted by a data breach.
"With the data breaches, people's behaviors have changed," Frost explained. "Thirty-two percent do use cash now. They prefer it when possible and 18 percent do not shop at stores that have had a data breach."
New Jerseyans are taking some important steps to protect their identities. Six in 10 use passwords and PIN numbers that are difficult to guess. In addition, 60 percent have checked their credit report at least once to see if their identity may have been stolen.
According to Experian's ProtectMyID website, people can take the following steps to protect themselves from identity theft:
- Don't access secure websites, such as online banking, from shared computers or in public.
- Change passwords regularly.
- Use the privacy settings on social networking sites to ensure you're only sharing information with those you trust.
- Only provide your Social Security number when necessary, such as for employment, tax forms or bank records.
- Be careful opening files, links, emails, etc. from unknown sources or from a friend's account that may have been hacked.
- Check the security of online stores before you purchase.
- When sharing personal information with certain professionals, such as tax preparers or mortgage lenders, be sure to choose companies you trust.
- Shred all sensitive information before throwing in the trash.
The survey was conducted from Sept. 17-22, 2014, among 370 adults ages 18 and older living in New Jersey. Since the survey was not based on a probability sample a margin of error could not be calculated.