40% of consumers hold online service providers responsible for protecting their online identity
Research findings published today by Experian Consumer Services reveals that 36% of Britons today believe that online identity fraud or information theft is unavoidable in the future. The study also reveals the opportunity for online service providers to take more accountability in this area with 40% of survey respondents believing that responsibility should lie with their service provider.
Conducted amongst 2,249 adults across the UK, the results highlight consumer attitudes towards online identity fraud and the role online service providers play (in the following sectors: Mobile, Banking, Insurance, Gaming, Internet Service providers).
Despite over a third of consumers expressing significant concerns about the risk of identity theft, the results suggest that many still do not implement well established best practice online security measures, such as using different passwords for online accounts. Two-fifths of respondents (40%) believe that online service providers should be responsible for protecting consumers’ online identity with just under a half (47%) believing it is their personal responsibility. The research also showed that victims of Internet crime are slightly more likely to allocate accountability to service providers than non-victims (43% compared to 39%).
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In the case of protecting and recovering data following the loss of a mobile device specifically, opinions about who should protect and recover their information are more fragmented. Just under a fifth (19%) of respondents currently believe accountability should lie with the mobile network provider, followed by their ISP (17%), companies holding their personal data (14%) and insurance companies (13%). 30% of consumers believe that none of the service providers would fulfil this role.
Consumers also associate varying levels of perceived harm from identity theft depending on the different online platforms they are using. For example, information misuse following online banking is perceived to have the greatest personal impact at 87%, followed by the risk of an e-mail account being hacked and messages sent out to their network (80%). General Internet use has a perceived risk of 76%.
Gamers believe they face the lowest perceived risks (54%) should a personal avatar or online identity be taken over by fraudsters, in-spite of the significant amount of personal information shared in creating such characters and online profiles.
During qualitative anonymous interviews, when online service providers were asked what was being done to minimise risks surrounding identity theft for their customers, most discussed authentication, encryption, storage and some proactive technologies, with an emphasis on transaction security and log-in protections. Very few highlighted processes or technologies to assist customers that are victims of identity fraud or information misuse
Peter Turner, Managing Director with Experian Consumer Services UK&I, commented: “The truth is that both consumers and online service providers have a role to play in protecting personal information shared online as a lapse by either party will result in an increased risk of online identity theft or fraud. Some online service providers are already rising to the challenge and providing services to help protect their customers. However all online service providers should be asking themselves what their role is in helping to protect consumers from identity theft.
“Taking a proactive approach to the protection of customers’ online identities, enhances customer relationships and builds trust in brands, which is extremely valuable to brand managers. Customers want to know that the processes and support exist, should they ever need to call on them”, continued Peter Turner.
Below is a summary of the key research findings for each sector:
- 86% of respondents believe the consequences of identity theft when banking online could be significant. Interestingly, a smaller proportion (65%) are concerned about the misuse or theft of their personal information as a result of using online banking platforms
- While the vast majority of survey respondents (89%) logged out of online banking once they had finished on the site, 17% accessed online banking from a shared computer every month, and one in ten had done so from an open Wi-Fi hotspot, which is of a significantly higher risk than a private network.
Internet Service Providers
- Consumers feel more secure when using their ISP to access the Internet, over other methods. 47% of respondents were at least “fairly concerned” about the misuse or theft of personal information when using their ISP. This figure rises to 61% when they are connecting in other ways, such as through public Wi-Fi.
- ISPs are the second highest ranking industry expected to protect and recover personal information in the event of a lost mobile device.
- Between a quarter and a third of mobile Internet users are showing signs of negligence in accessing websites or sharing information online. For example, on average every month 32% of mobile Internet users connect to a wireless network that requires no password, and 27% download an application without checking the safety of the developer. These risks represent a significant challenge for service providers.
- From the study, 69% of mobile users consider that the act of online identity theft or misuse of personal information when using a mobile phone would carry some significance for them.
- In the survey, less than a third of online gamers recognise a risk in buying or storing data on games, and only 15% are very concerned about data risk when buying or accessing online games, while another 15% are totally unconcerned
- A fifth (20%) access online gaming accounts from public computers, 27% from a shared computer, and 33% from a mobile device, raising the risk of insecure Wi-Fi connections in public places. One quarter (24%) access gaming accounts from insecure public hotspots. Despite these risky log-ins, 22% admit to never logging out of their accounts manually at all.
- 25% of respondents stated they had insurance for a mobile phone, but only 10% have claimed insurance for tablet devices
- Device insurance is still something that only a small percentage of users hold, with mandatory insurance, such as home and car, being far more prevalent. This type of insurance is still significant when considering the level of Internet users that protect against identity theft. Mintel (2012) estimates that only 6% of people have taken steps to protect their ID, the same as those that take out personal insurance against accidents in the workplace.
For the full Experian Consumer Identity Risk 2013 research report, please [email protected]