Most People Don’t Protect Their Digital Identities
(AARP) – Many Americans fail to take even the most basic steps to protect their digital identity, from monitoring their banking accounts online to varying their passwords to setting up a security freeze on their credit reports, according to a new AARP survey.
The survey found that fewer than half (43 percent) of adults over age 18 have online access to all of their bank accounts. Older adults are even less likely to be plugged in, with only 37 percent of those age 50 to 64 and 33 percent of those 65 and older having access.
More adults (57 percent) are likely to have online access to all their credit card accounts, but again older adults lag behind. About 70 percent of those age 18 to 49 have set up online credit card access, compared to 52 percent of adults age 50 to 64 and 37 percent of adults over age 65.
In addition, even though almost half (47 percent) of the adults surveyed say they have spotted bogus charges on their credit or debit cards, only 14 percent have requested a security freeze on their credit data. A freeze restricts access to a consumer’s credit report, making it more difficult for criminals to open fraudulent accounts in his or her name.
“Our survey results indicate that a lot of people may feel overwhelmed, and have just given up,” says AARP’s lead fraud researcher and the report’s coauthor, Doug Shadel. “Two-thirds of those surveyed said that given the number of data breaches that have occurred, they think it is inevitable that criminals will be able to exploit their credit at some point. But we are emphasizing that there are powerful things you can do to make sure that stolen data can’t be used against you.”
One area where older adults are more vigilant than younger adults is in the use of passwords. Security experts advise using unique passwords for each individual account, but the survey reveals that this is not a typical practice.
About 36 percent of adults age 65 and older have used the same password for more than one online account, as have 42 percent of those age 50 to 64. But some 55 percent of adults age 18 to 49 have replicated passwords on different accounts.
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