Consumer confidence eroded by identity theft

21 Nov 2007

Some 70pc of adults say that fears of identity theft are changing their online behaviour and this could impact future e-commerce revenues, research reveals.

According to a survey by Computer Associates (CA), almost two thirds of consumers surveyed by independent research consultancy YouGov of 2,000 adults in the UK believe businesses should take more responsibility for protecting their personal details online.

Some 84pc of respondents indicate that their trust in an organisation’s ability to protect their personal details dictated who they interacted with the most online.

Banks are trusted the most at 60pc, followed by credit card companies at 40pc, the Government at 25pc, online retailers at 19pc and ISPs a lowly 8pc.

“This survey clearly shows that online identity theft remains a major concern for consumers,” said Simon Perry, vice-president of security strategy at CA. “This is not surprising considering that more than 170,000 cases of identity theft have been reported in the past 18 months.”

Perry said consumers still need to be convinced that rigorous steps are being taken to ensure their data is protected and that security is at the top of the agenda.

“The onus is clearly on organisations offering online services to improve the way they manage their customers’ personal details or risk damage to their reputation and loss of business.”

The survey also examined the level of demand among consumers for a new generation of federated online services.

“This is something that the banks, telcos, credit card companies and the Government are either providing to some extent today or are looking to introduce to the mainstream in the near future. The results showed that there is a strong level of appetite, with four in 10 stating they are a good idea.”

However, for these potential revenue streams to be realised, Perry said consumer confidence in online security must increase from its current level.

“To further combat online identity theft, an area that needs urgent attention is breach notification laws. In the US, consumers are notified as soon as there has been a data breach relating to their personal details.

“This places an additional mandated obligation for organisations to not only do everything in their power to minimise online fraud, but also to demonstrate transparency in their execution of their efforts. This requirement currently doesn’t exist in Ireland or the UK,” Perry concluded.

By John Kennedy