Identity Theft

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

One-third of American shoppers plan to do all or most of their holiday shopping online this year while more than two-thirds of these online holiday shoppers are concerned about identity theft, according to a survey commissioned by leading proactive identity theft protection service provider LifeLock.

The survey from LifeLock found that 80 percent of Americans plan to at least do some holiday shopping online this year, with 43 percent saying they would mostly rely on mobile devices to make purchases. Identity theft was a concern for 71 percent of online holiday shoppers versus 56 percent of non-online holiday shoppers.

The survey revealed that many Americans ranked protecting their identities ahead of partaking in holiday traditions with 49 percent saying they would give up receiving presents this holiday season if it meant that their identity would not be stolen. Here are five suggestions to help prevent identity theft:

  1. Keep a low profile – Online holiday shoppers should be careful giving out personal information to receive promotions and offers and not save credit card information on retailer websites. Be sure emails sent with promotional links do not point back to an altered link which could signal a phishing scam designed to fool online holiday shoppers into entering personal information.
  2. Look for websites with the green padlock – Online holiday shoppers would like to be able to do all of their shopping with familiar brands they trust. When visiting any website, online holiday shoppers should look for two signs that help indicate that the site is secure: an icon of a locked green padlock on the left side of the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and “https” in the website address.
  3. Pay with a credit card or online/mobile payment – Credit cards provide more protection for online holiday shoppers with fraud activity since they are not held responsible for unauthorized credit card purchases but an identity thief with a stolen debit card could wipe out an entire bank balance until an investigation is completed. Also, use online or mobile payment services.
  4. Do not use free or paid public Wi-Fi – Online holiday shoppers should use their cellular network instead of WiFi since identity thieves could be lurking on a public or unsecured Wi-Fi network no matter how trusted the source. A more secure option for online holiday shoppers is to use their phone’s cellular network either on the device itself or as a hot spot for their laptop.
  5. Watch accounts closely – During the high-volume shopping holiday shopping season, online holiday shoppers should do a weekly recap of purchases and check bank and credit card statements for unfamiliar charges or activity. Also, set up text and email alerts to keep track of transactions and make it a habit to update account passwords with unique ones.

The survey also found that 50 percent of Americans said getting their identity stolen would ruin their holidays most, twice as much as the 22 percent who said not being able to share the holidays with family and friends and the 17 percent who said not being able to afford presents for family and friends.

“In general, the more you do and share online, the more your risk increases to be a victim of identity theft,” Paige Hanson, LifeLock’s chief of identity education, stated in a press release about the survey. “But there are some simple things you can do to help protect yourself whether shopping online or in stores.”

The ‘What is identity theft?’ page on the LifeLock website defines identity theft as “when thieves steal your personal information in order to take over or open new accounts, file fake tax returns, rent or buy properties, or do other criminal things in your name.” Even children can be vulnerable to identity theft.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of LifeLock from October 20-24, 2016, among 2,001 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Earlier in November 2018, ESR News reported that some Americans are more “likely to be exposed to and affected by identity theft and fraud” depending on the state where they lived, according to a comparison of 50 states across three key dimensions of identity theft, fraud, and policy.

WalletHub – a personal finance website – evaluated identity theft, fraud, and policy in each state. The top ten states most vulnerable to identity theft and fraud were Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia (D.C.), New York, West Virginia, Michigan, and North Dakota.

In February 2018, the 2018 Identity Fraud Study released by research-based advisory firm Javelin Strategy & Research revealed the number of identity fraud victims increased by eight percent to 16.7 million U.S. consumers in 2017, a record high since the company began tracking identity fraud in 2003.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, “identity theft” is the unauthorized access to personal information which can occur through data breaches while “identity fraud” is the unauthorized use of someone’s personal information for illicit financial gain such as using a stole payment card account.

More Information about Identity Theft from ESR

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) is a global background check firm that is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and undergoes annual SOC 2® audits to protect consumer information. To learn more about identity theft, visit

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

© 2018 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.


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