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They fear having their Social Security or bank account info stolen the most.

2 minute read

Can you be afraid of something you can prevent? According to national credit score company FICO, many in the U.S. fear something they can avoid: fraud.

Out of the 1,000 people surveyed, 44 percent were afraid of someone trying to steal their identity, as well as bank fraud. That percentage is double the combined numbers of people who fear terror attacks (18 percent) and the potential death of a loved one (22 percent).

“The loss of your personal information or money from your account cuts deep, it is a violation, and people now know it’s much more likely to happen to them,” FICO VP Bob Shiflet says.

As much as they fear it, Americans aren’t taking the necessary steps to protect themselves from identity theft.

Leaving the door open

Only half of all Americans think their poor credit or low income will prevent their identity from being stolen, says credit bureau Experian.

In terms of protecting themselves, only 16 percent said they would pay for a fraud monitoring service outside of their bank or credit provider. On top of that, 60 percent don’t lock their mailbox, 21 percent don’t shred any personal documents when throwing them out, and over half leave personal objects like their purses or laptops in their car for extended periods of time.

That lack of protection is aiding cyber thieves in stealing personal information. In 2016, 980 million total breaches were counted by the Identity Theft Resource Center, a record-setting number that affected 35 million people.

Nearly half of all Americans have been a victim of fraud according to electronic payment company ACI Worldwide, but are too lazy to protect themselves.

What we fear losing

Those who fear identity theft and bank fraud aren’t just worried about losing everything. They fear losing some things more than others, including…

  • Social Security number (86 percent)
  • Bank account information (76 percent)
  • Credit card information (56 percent)
  • Bio-metric data (17 percent) and medical records (15 percent)

In general, those questioned prioritize money over medical records, even though medical records are also often used for identity theft.

Avoiding theft

If you want to avoid having to cancel your credit cards after your identity has been stolen, there are some steps you can take.

Reporting an incident of fraud or ID theft to your provider is one of the most important steps you can take when you are attacked. Whether it’s your bank or credit provider, getting help quickly can make the situation much easier on yourself.

Those who did report their problems to their bank were usually happy (78 percent) with how it was handled.

Besides communicating more with your bank, don’t leave objects that hold financial or personal info in your car or in the open and make sure to shred financial or personal documents you no longer need.

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About the Author

Ryan Lynch

Ryan Lynch

Ryan Lynch is a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He was the two-time editor in chief of the student-run newspaper.

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