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Research from Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert, reveals that 60% of consumers think that fewer than three security steps, including passwords, card readers or letters from a memorable word, are insufficient to assure their bank account is secure and not accessible by other people.

The online survey, conducted by YouGov, found just over a fifth of the British population (21%) have previously had either their social media or email account hacked. After discovering their account had been compromised the majority of these people (81%) responded by changing their password, while 20% chose to completely close the account; of these, the results show that younger generations are more inclined to do this, with 39% of people aged 18 to 24 closing their account versus 18% of 35 to 44 year olds and 12% of over 55s.

When asked about what personal information would concern them most if stolen and used for fraud, bank details topped the list (81%), followed by debit or credit card pin number (72%), passport (60%), and driver’s licence (46%). Personal photographs were of least concern with only 27% of people worrying about these being stolen by fraudsters. In the event of suspected fraudulent activity, 32% of consumers would prefer their financial provider to alert them with a phone call compared to 21% via email and 20% via text message.

John Marsden, Head of ID and Fraud at Equifax, said: “Multi-layer authentication is common practice among financial providers. However many consumers are unaware of the invisible layers that also form part of the verification process when they’re accessing their bank accounts. As account hacking remains an issue, it’s no surprise that loss of financial details is a top concern for consumers, who increasingly demand higher security to protect their money.

“While there is a need for financial providers to reassure consumers of the precautions being taken to defend against fraudsters, it is also clear that the addition of more visible layers of security can play a vital part in assuring consumers that their finances are secure.”