Avoiding identity theft isn't easy, but you can't pin it all on the company or bank.

Identity theft is probably your fault

Ever heard of the computer error ID:10T?

It’s an old IT joke for a user who causes his own tech problems. Spelled out, it looks like the word IDIOT — but  it almost sounds like the word IDENTITY, too.

Two separate polls out last month, from data analytics company Feedzai and online security company HyTrust, show most consumers blame identity theft on companies. Others blame banks or the federal government, but very few look in the mirror. Feedzai polled over 2,000 American adults, of whom just 5 percent think it’s their own responsibility to protect personal data.

HyTrust hit up a similar number of people, and more than 72 percent said organizations don’t care about keeping their private data secure. Really? People don’t think companies want to stay in business?

Maybe Target and Neiman Marcus could have done more to prevent data breaches, but it doesn’t seem like most consumers are especially worried about it. Feedzai threw a list of annoying experiences at respondents and asked which was worst, and less than half (43 percent) said identity theft was. Here’s what the rest of the consumers find more aggravating than identity theft…

  • Losing a cell phone (20 percent)
  • Getting the flu (20 percent)
  • Rush hour traffic (14 percent)
  • Going to the DMV (13 percent)
  • Jury duty (12 percent)
  • Tax returns (11 percent)

And a third report from marketing research company Communispace shows consumers aren’t exactly doing their part to protect themselves.

“70 percent said they would voluntarily share personal data with a company in exchange for a 5 percent discount,” Communispace found. Almost the same number of people saying companies don’t care about data security. They’re eager to hand data over to companies they don’t trust just to offset sales tax on a single purchase.

On the other hand, 30 percent told Communispace they’d pay 5 percent extra “if they could be guaranteed that none of their information would be captured.” And Feedzai found 28 percent of people aware of recent data breaches have stopped shopping at breached retailers. And 40 percent are using cash for purchases more often.

Some people clearly do care, but they’re the minority. If you want to join them, check out the advice in our stories Top 10 scams of 2014 and how to avoid them and Was your credit card number stolen at Target? Here’s what to do.

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