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Consumers Overestimate The Dangers Of Online Identity Theft, Study Says

More than one-third of users think ID theft is most likely to happen online, but only 10 percent of the losses happen on the Web, researchers say

The Grinch didn't work online -- and most identity thieves don't, either.

That's the conclusion of a new study published today by the research firm Zogby. The survey results suggest that most consumers overestimate the likelihood of being "owned" online, yet underestimate the possibility of being ripped off in more traditional methods.

Thirty-four percent of consumers believe ID theft is most likely to occur online, yet a recent study by Javelin Research indicates only 10 percent of such crimes occur over the Web. Most ID theft occurs through more traditional, physical thefts, according to the report, which was commissioned by identity restoration service EZShield.

"At a time of year when packages are sitting on doorsteps and a mere address label or transaction record is enough to enable identity theft, consumers need to increase their vigilance and take action to protect themselves," says John Herr, CEO of EZShield.

The study found 34 percent of users think ID theft most likely results from personal information being stolen from government agencies, medical offices, or other businesses. Only 14 percent of respondents believe such thefts can come from stolen mail or trash.

Only 6 percent of consumers believe ID theft occurs while shopping at brick-and-mortar stores or in restaurants, the study says.

EZShield advises consumers to shred credit cards, get locking mailboxes, and refuse to give out Social Security or other personal data when dealing with retailers during the shopping season.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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