Mintel Report Finds Identity Theft Fears Have Risen

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Mintel Report Finds Identity Theft Fears Have Risen

CHICAGO -- As the nation becomes more wired, a recently released Mintel research report finds Americans have growing concerns over identify theft and online security issues.

In a recent consumer survey, a Mintel report found that two-thirds of adults (65 percent) are more concerned about online security now than they were five years ago. Of those polled, 28 percent said they were "significantly" concerned.

"Identity theft and online security are hot issues in the media, making them top-of-mind for consumers," Susan Menke, senior analyst at Mintel, said in a released report. "More people now realize the harmful effects of identity theft, so they're growing increasingly wary of doing business online or responding to unsolicited e-mails."

Despite risks and fears, Mintel found that 71 percent of adults polled had at least one financial services account. "Though people express fear about identity theft, we still see them active on the Internet for managing personal business accounts and sharing information," Menke said in a released statement. "Online account management is fast, easy and convenient, making it indispensible for many people."

There is a silver lining as identify theft has declined in recent years. According to the U.S. Justice Department, the number of American identity theft victims fell 12 percent from 2003 to 2006 (from 10.1 million to 8.9 million). Additionally, in 2006 only 8.3 percent of identity theft cases were the result of online behavior such as computer viruses, hackers or phishing. The majority of actual identity thefts, reports the Justice Department, resulted from simple theft such as a stolen checkbook or a dishonest friend.

"The actual risk of having your identity stolen online is not as high as many people think," Menke said in a released statement. "Financial services companies are trying to reassure consumers of this fact, but our research suggests their marketing messages aren't sticking. Companies need to find innovative new ways to convince Americans that their identities are secure online and when using e-mail."