Identity Theft Articles

Consumers do little to protect their identity online

Consumers do little to protect their identity online.

Identity theft is a growing problem across the country, and many consumers are finding themselves victimized as a result of not taking the proper precautions.

According to a new study by the Ponemon Institute, the growing number of identity theft crimes could have been avoided if only the victim had been more vigilant. While more than 80 percent of those polled said they were concerned about identity theft, more than half said they have made no effort to protect themselves from it.

The survey also found that 65 percent of social media site users do not put their security settings high enough, more than 90 percent do not review a site's privacy policy before signing up, and about 40 percent of users put their home address on their profile pages.

Shockingly, the study found that those consumers who have been the victims of identity theft are just as likely to have low privacy standards as those who have not.

“I was surprised that those who had experienced identity theft in the past weren’t taking stronger measures to protect their identity. No matter who you are, if you want to increase social networking safety, you must take the necessary steps to protect your information, said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

Close to 90 percent of respondents said that they did not think they were at risk for identity theft as a result the information on social networking sites, and only 40 percent said their social media "friends" are people they know and trust.

A recent report in the Modesto (California) Bee said that there is no way for a consumer to know whether or not their identity is safe online. Many social media websites, most notably Facebook, have a demonstrated history of poor privacy management for its users. This, says the newspaper, is because social media companies are allowed to police themselves when it comes to privacy policies. As a result, information about users who do not make their privacy settings high can "leak" out to third parties the user doesn't know, and that can potentially lead to a number of major vulnerability problems.

The report said social media sites count on these vulnerabilities to make money, which is why these sites will always be free to users. The people paying to let others use the site are "advertisers and aggregators" who use the information for profit.