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Protect Your Personal Information This Holiday Season

Locked WalletJP Morgan. Home Depot. Goodwill. And, yes, the IRS. Those are just four of the 636 data breaches that occurred through the first 10 months of 2014, a 30% increase over the same time period last year, according to the Identity Theft Research Center. Is it any wonder consumers are experiencing breach fatigue?

That’s what a new study of more than 1,200 consumers conducted by Morpace on behalf of LifeLock reveals. Consumers are very worried about their personal information being pilfered and used for identity fraud – two-thirds describe data breach as a serious life disruption, and half think it would be one of the worst things that could happen to them. But data breach is now so common that the overall attitude of many seems to be one of helplessness, with about half of consumers agreeing that they don’t know how to prevent data breach or what to do if it happens to them.

It is also likely why few consumers plan to alter their behavior in an effort to avoid data breach. Just over one-in-three shoppers say they’ve changed their shopping habits in the past year in an effort to steer clear of data breaches, and less than one-in-ten are avoiding specific retailers.  Further, for the upcoming holiday season, over 80% of consumers say they’ll be shopping at least as much or more than last year’s holiday season, both online and in-store.

Just as surprising, the research found that among people who are shifting their shopping behavior, the driving factor has more to do with a desire to save money than with protecting their personal information. One of the reasons consumers cited for an increase in online shopping was obtaining better deals — not necessarily protecting their personal information. 

Whether you were the victim of a recent breach or not, however, one thing is certain. If forecasts hold for this holiday season, you’ll be shopping more this year than you did last year – and you’ll be doing more of that shopping online. The National Retail Federation projects that consumers will spend 9% more on gifts in 2014 than in 2013. And according to Forrester Research, online retail sales are expected to grow from $263 billion in 2013 to $414 billion in 2018 – a whopping 57% increase over a five year period.[1] Much of that growth is coming at the expense of brick-and-mortar stores.

Unfortunately, consumers – who, the LifeLock research shows, believe that card issuers and retailers need to do more to secure their information – aren’t doing much to protect themselves. That’s too bad. Because with a few simple moves you can actually make yourself significantly safer. Here’s what you need to do:

[1] US eCommerce Forecast, 2013 To 2018, Forrester Research, Inc., May 12, 2014

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