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Source: Inside ID

Posted on November 9, 2004

      American consumers continue to surrender too much personal information over the phone or the Internet, leaving themselves vulnerable to identity theft, according to the 2004 Identity Management Survey.

      The survey, commissioned by EDS and the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, found consumers are not practicing all security precautions despite repeated warnings from the government, financial institutions, and press coverage.

      More than 70 percent of consumers will share information, such as their name, address, postal code, phone number, account number, or give the answer to a security question to an unsolicited call or e-mail.

      "While consumers have learned not to divulge information such as their Social Security number and debit card number over the phone or on the Web, our survey indicates that they are still naive and share significant amounts of information from the contents of their wallet - putting them at greater risk for identity theft and phishing," said Peter Reid, portfolio strategist for EDS Security and Privacy Services.

      According to the survey, many respondents find common procedures for enhancing security and protecting personal information to be an inconvenience. Sixty-one percent do not want to be forced to change passwords; 57 percent do not want their accounts locked down after three failed attempts to provide identification verification information. Two-thirds believe it is worse to be denied access due to a systems glitch than it is to be given access without proving their identity.

      Given the dissatisfaction with the common methods of identity verification, the survey also examined consumer interest in innovative methods, such as biometrics and a single secure and private identification credential. The results suggest that a majority of consumers are open to alternative methods of identification management solutions.

      More than 69 percent of the respondents are open to the idea of using biometrics for identity management. Only 12 percent said no to biometrics, while 19 percent are unsure. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents who are willing to accept biometric identification methods are in favor of this technology because it is convenient and does not require them to remember passwords. As for preferred methods of biometric identification, 85 percent of respondents chose fingerprints and 84 percent chose voice recognition.

      According to the survey, 77 percent of consumers expect organizations to have strong identification safeguards in place. The top five organizations that consumers expect to have the strongest identification and authentication safeguards are law enforcement (94 percent), credit card companies (94 percent), hospitals and clinics (91 percent), banks (89 percent), and airlines (84 percent).

      The Ponemon Institute administered the large scale, Web-based national study between Sept. 7 and Sept. 30, 2004. The survey was sent to more than 7,300 individuals, 18 years of age and older, with a response rate of 1,197. The overall survey results will be released in a white paper called "Privacy and Identity Management Survey," during the IAPP Conference on Oct. 29 in New Orleans.

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