Cyber attacks cost them more than $19 billion last year, research says.

About 143 million U.S. adults were duped by a hack in 2017, and most are confident it’s going to happen again this year.

Almost half (45 percent) of Americans expect identity theft to cost them financially this year, says a study from the American Institute of CPAs.

“Protecting your information is an ongoing process that requires you to be vigilant, identify where you can improve and take action to firm up your safeguards,” says chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission Gregory Anton. “This means regularly monitoring your credit card and bank statement and periodically checking your credit report for anything that looks out of the ordinary.”

Public concern

Just last month, cyber criminals stole the data of 5 million customers from two high-end fashion stores: Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, Aljazeera reported. And that’s just one recent major hack that caught attention this year.

Because of the high frequency of hacks, most Americans keep a skeptical eye on how companies deal with identity theft.

Eight in 10 (81 percent) Americans say they’re concerned about businesses’ ability to protect their personal information. And 40 percent are “extremely concerned.” So Americans are taking their own precautions to protect their identity…

  • 56 percent: Monitor credit and debit card accounts for fraud
  • 43 percent: Use cash and checks more frequently
  • 40 percent: Shop at local stores over national retailers
  • 26 percent: Reduce online and social media presence
  • 20 percent: Signed up for identity theft detection

“While it’s positive that Americans are taking steps to mitigate the risk from cyber breaches, each time there is a new breach in the headlines there is the risk that the public becomes numb,” Anton says. “Identity theft may seem like it’s inevitable … it doesn’t have to be.”

And Americans have plenty to be concerned over the lack of cybersecurity in American businesses, at least when you look at the numbers.

No trust for business

First of all, almost half (44 percent) of businesses were victim to account takeover identity theft last year, says a study from cybersecurity company Agari. This is where a cyber thief gets your personal information, then steals from your bank and credit card accounts.

So, it’s no wonder so many Americans don’t trust companies. Next, keeping consumers’ data private is important to Americans, says a study from IBM. Seventy-eight percent agree. While only 20 percent trust companies do that.

So much that 75 percent won’t by products from companies they don’t trust with their data. Seventy-three percent think businesses focus on profits over addressing costumer’ security needs. And the same amount think it’s important for companies to quickly take action on a breach. Finally, 60 percent of Americans say they’re more concerned with cybersecurity than a potential war.

Unfortunately for them, cyber breaches happen far more frequently than war.

Consumers can’t catch a break

One-third of Americans have been notified that their data was breached during their lifetime, says a study from insurance and inspection company Hartford Steam Boiler. And 23 percent say their personal information was breached in a bank.

Frighteningly, 38 percent of the Americans, who have experienced a breach, don’t know how it happened.

How Americans find out about fraud…

  • 38 percent: Found out when they applied for a credit card
  • 37 percent: Were notified of breach by service
  • 20 percent: Saw it in a credit report
  • 4 percent: Were notified by police

Despite high identity theft rates, Vice President and lawyer for HSB Timothy Zeilman is hopeful for combating identity theft in the future. He cites the increasing number of states requiring cyber breach notifications by law.

“Data breaches continue to expose millions of Americans to identity theft and fraud,” Zeilman says. “On the positive side, 48 states now require that affected individuals be notified.”

And that’s a big improvement from nearly 15 years ago. As of 2004, only California required notification of identity theft by law.

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

Associate editor

Pye is the associate editor of Debt.com.

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Article last modified on May 2, 2018 Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Identity Theft: Americans Know They’re Going to Pay This Year - AMP.