Written by Deric LambdinOur goal, here at Best Company, is to provide you with honest, reliable information you need to find companies you can trust.
Welcome to the BestCompany.com data center! Our team is constantly researching and collecting data about the identity theft market. We wanted to take the opportunity to share our findings with you. In our data center you'll find charts, resources and analyses explaining identity theft consumers, agencies and trends.
We've made it our mission to find the honest and trusted. Our research plays a vital role in our efforts to better understand identity theft companies and consumers. Our data is raw and real. It exposes the bad and brings the good to light.
Whether you're an identity theft company looking for trends or an identity theft consumer looking for more knowledge, you've come to the right place!
How Americans Experience Online Threats
This survey suggests an interesting trend among consumers who regularly use the Internet. Nearly 25 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 reported having either their email addresses or social media accounts had been hacked or taken over without their permission. Additionally, about 15 percent of respondents age 25 to 34 also reported their personal information (e.g. Social Security Number, etc.) had been stolen while they were using the Internet. Meanwhile, older respondents either do not experience or are not aware of the same online threats as their younger counterparts. The survey also broke across gender lines, with women reporting much higher rates of online stalking, harassment, or bullying than men.
One possible explanation behind the discrepancies between age groups is the simple fact that younger and middle-aged consumers tend to use the Internet more than their older counterparts; however, another explanation is that more experienced consumers tend to be more careful about what personal information is dispensed online. In other words, while this survey may simply reveal that those who use the Internet more frequently are at higher risk for online threats, it also suggests that older respondents are exercising more caution whenever they log on.
What Consumers Think About ID Theft
We found that age plays a big role in what people think about the affect of identity theft. People who were at least 55 years old think identity theft is a growing problem in the United States, while young adults from 18-24 years old claim that they don't follow identity theft news/topics.
It was also interesting to find that women are more aware of concerned about identity theft than men are across most age groups, which leads us to believe that women are more likely to be purchasing identity theft protection services for themselves and family members. One of the last major findings showed that people who made more than $100,000/year overwhelmingly believe that identity theft is a problem, but it's getting better.
Where to Purchase Identity Protection
We found importance of lawyers on staff varied by region. The West is laden with lawyers which left us perplexed as to why respondents from the West marked lawyers as unimportant. We were, however, not as surprised to see the East and South regions indicating lawyers to be very important. We believe individuals who don't find lawyers necessary don't care who an agency employs as long as its credit repair is effective. Those who marked lawyers as very important have a more prudent approach to credit repair services.
- Many consumers are misled in what their bank, credit card or insurance company can do for them in regards to protecting their identity. In reality, these organizations are limited in their resources in the identity industry.
- The real truth is that only specialized identity theft companies can thoroughly protect and resolve identity theft.
- Consumers should go directly to these companies, where it would be easily worth the monthly cost.
How Americans Respond to Data Breaches
Data breaches frequently occur and most result in serious consequences. We found that approximately 75 percent of consumers would not take immediate action to news a data breach. Half of those people would completely ignore it and the other half would wait to see if they actually needed to worry about it. On the other hand, about 21 percent of the surveyors would sign up with some form of protection, including identity theft protection, to take precaution of data breach repercussions.
- News of data breaches are good warning signs for consumers to be on high alert or be proactive in protecting their identity and financial accounts
- The increase of data breaches shows the sophistication of technology that is allowing hackers to easily steal personal and financial information at their will
Frequency of All Types of ID Theft
Our data shows that the majority of people have not experienced any type of identity theft. We focused on the other 30 percent that had experienced some type of fraud. We took the same ratio and applied it to the current American population and found that approximately 95 million people in the United States would fall victim to at least one type of identity theft.
The "Other" category can include other identity scams such as as criminal identity theft, voter fraud, stolen email or social media login and passwords, employment theft, family fraud, and more.
When Consumers Start to Consider ID Protection
There are a lot of reasons why people should seriously consider identity theft protection. One is that identity fraud is occurring more frequently nowadays than ever before. People are going months before even finding out that they have been victimized and are regretting not doing anything about it beforehand. In our survey, we found that almost half of the surveyors would consider purchasing identity theft protection the most if they had already had their personal information stolen in one form or another. About 30 percent of the people said they would purchase if there were warning signs to possibly being victimized.
- Identity protection companies are mostly set up to protect your identity before it happens, and second to restore your identity after victimization
- If you're not planning on having a protection system in place, make sure you have all your bases covered as far as protecting yourself from vulnerable attacks
Most Important Component of an ID Theft Service
We found that consumers are wanting quality identity protection and prevention features (41.6 percent) when it comes to an identity theft service. The protection and prevention was considered more important than price, identity recovery and assistance and insurance amount and quality.
The BIDTC Review Team has used this particular survey to help influence the criteria they use to rank all identity theft protection companies in the industry. Since the people view protection features and price as the most important, the Review Team weighs those two factors as the most important in a company's Overall Score. All other components are taken into consideration when creating the rest of the How We Rank criteria for BestCompany.com.
What Consumers are Willing to Pay vs. What Companies are Charging
There is quite a big discrepancy between what people are willing to pay for a high-quality identity theft service versus what the companies in the industry are actually charging. Our survey found that a majority of people are not willing to pay more than $9 per month. It's interesting to find that the industry average price for identity protection is nearly $18 a month. Companies need to lower their prices so more people can get protected from the increasing risk of identity fraud.
- The most affordable identity protection companies in the industry include LifeLock and ID TheftSmart
- The most expensive identity protection companies in the industry include LegalShield and Check Credit Guard
- The BIDTC Research Team projects that lowering prices across the identity theft industry will lead to more revenue for companies
What Americans Are Currently Doing to Protect Their ID
This survey shows that approximately 45 percent of people do nothing to protect their identity. All other responses in the survey include some type of protection, whether it is minor or major. The proactive responses in this survey (response letters B, C, D and E) total to be approximately 54 percent which shows that the majority of Americans (by a small gap) are doing something that helps to protect their identity.
One of the data insights show that the proactive responses had a majority demographic of people who make an income of more than $75,000 a year.
- Any form of protection is better than no protection at all
- Protection through an identity theft protection company is the most reliable
- Consumers who do nothing about their identity are less vulnerable to fraud than someone who takes one small measure of protection like checking bank statements
Where Consumers Think Their Information is Most Vulnerable
Even though the BIDTC Research Team doesn't have any definite research validating or invalidating what consumers believe their information is most vulnerable, they thought it was just as important to see what they thought. All response options are common weaknesses that can result in identity victimization.
- Women had a noticeable higher response rate for "physical documents" than men, and men had a higher response rate for "information in company databases" than women
- People who made more than $100,000 each year had an overwhelming response for "information online" and "information in company databases"