Password inertia leaving UK consumers at risk of fraud, research reveals

PasswordsLess than half (49%) of consumers regularly change their passwords as a way to prevent fraud, according to research from Callcredit Information Group.  Yet, the majority (66%) perceive the risk of identity theft and online fraud as one of their biggest concerns around sharing personal information online.

The research*, commissioned by Callcredit Information Group as part of the Unlocking the potential of personal data report, also found that only two-thirds of consumers (65%) have a highly-secure password. That is, a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

However, the findings suggest that consumers are not widely employing other simple fraud prevention techniques. Of the 3,000 UK-based consumers surveyed, only just over half (51%) have downloaded anti-malware security software and just over a third (38%) set browser privacy settings. When shopping online, well under half, just 41%, check the authenticity of an organisation before purchase.

John Cannon, Fraud & ID Director, Callcredit Information Group, commented: “Despite a significant rise in online fraud, and concern around sharing personal information, consumers don’t appear to be adequately protecting themselves against cyber-crime. Simple techniques, such as regularly changing passwords, aren’t being implemented by a significant proportion of consumers.

“Our research suggests that there is a real need for consumer education about anti-fraud techniques. It is crucial that businesses not only monitor for fraud, but educate consumers about existing risks and fraud prevention tactics. Organisations could, for example, encourage customers to regularly check their credit report to help spot unusual activity. This is especially important given that customers’ digital identities increasingly form part of the checks that organisations perform.”

The research does show there are some steps that consumers are taking to protect themselves against fraud, with the most popular tactics being:

  • Changing social media privacy settings (34%)
  • Downloading an ad blocker (33%)  
  • Deliberately sharing fake details with organisations (18%)

In addition to the above, other simple steps consumers can take to keep themselves and their identity and personal information safe online are:  

  • Never use a password more than once. If a cyber-criminal were to get hold of the password for one account they may try to access others  
  • Check to see if the website you’re using is encrypted. Does it have a small padlock in the address bar, for example?  
  • Check your credit report, with services such as Noddle, regularly to make sure there are no new searches or lines of credit you don’t recognise  
  • If a website uses two-factor authentication, make use of it. It strengthens your login security and requires two stages to confirm your identity

*Unlocking the potential of personal data is the first research project commissioned by Callcredit Information Group, working with London-based research agency, Loudhouse. 3,000 UK consumers completed an online survey about sharing personal information in July 2016.