Many Utahns not taking steps to prevent ID theft, report shows

SALT LAKE CITY — A new online survey shows that a slight majority of Utahns are potentially at risk from the continuing threat of identity theft.

The survey conducted for Experian’s ProtectMyID showed that 52 percent of Utah residents either have been a victim of identity theft or know someone who has been affected by the crime. Even so, people fail to take even simple steps to protect themselves, with 56 percent reporting that they do not check credit reports regularly as a means to identify fraudulent activity.

The statewide study surveyed 1,055 consumers about their knowledge and behaviors related to identity theft. The survey indicated that Utahns take some steps to keep their personal information safe, but additional efforts could be made, specifically regarding technology and online activities.

Survey results indicate that only half of respondents use passwords to protect their smartphones or tablets, with 17 percent admitting that they allow strangers to join their social media circles.

“Many people don’t think about identity theft until it happens, and this survey shows that Utahns could take more steps to protect their identities,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president of marketing for Experian’s ProtectMyID. “Simple things, such as checking your credit report for signs of fraud or changing passwords regularly, can go a long way in the fight against identity theft.”

The survey also found that 83 percent of those surveyed avoid sharing their Social Security numbers unless required by law, while 77 percent of those surveyed check their account statements as soon as they arrive to check for activity that isn’t theirs. The report also showed that 76 percent of those surveyed said they kept antivirus and anti-malware programs up to date on all of their computers.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of those surveyed do not use different passwords for each of their online accounts, with 48 percent stating that they do not shred cancelled checks, and 58 percent stating they have not reviewed their credit reports to watch for signs of identity theft in more than six months.

Some respondents admitted to being unaware of some dangers, including 62 percent who have not heard of medical identity theft, with 31 percent of those familiar with medical identity theft stating that they were not aware it could affect their credit score.

Among the various tips to safeguard your identity, the report warned users to change their passwords on a regular basis, avoid sharing personally identifying information — like your birthday — on social networks, shred financial documents before disposing of them and review credit reports regularly to monitor signs of fraud.


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