String lights hanging on a line shows fear of data breaches during holiday shopping season

Consumers Mostly Afraid of Data Breaches During the Holiday Shopping Season and More Aware of Identity Protection Services

The fourth annual Holiday Shopping ID Theft Survey revealed some of the major risks holiday shoppers face as we approach the festive season. The survey was conducted by Generali Global Assistance, and analyzed consumer sentiments on retail data breaches and online shopping by polling adult Americans consisting of 501 men and 502 women demographically representative of the U.S. population.

Key findings of the fourth annual Holiday Shopping ID Theft survey

The survey found that 30% of Americans who avoided online shopping because of potential data breaches became substantially comfortable with the practice this year.

About three-quarters (74%) of those avoiding online shopping for fear of data breaches said that the COVID-19-induced lockdown forced them to use their credit card more often.

An almost similar number (73%) of the same category indicated that they became more comfortable with the idea since the pandemic began.

Similarly, most shoppers (86%) plan to do holiday shopping online, a 21% increase from last year.

Shopping data breaches are the biggest concern for most shoppers

While online shopping became the new normal, most shoppers were concerned about potential data breaches during the holiday shopping season. Two-thirds (66%) of the respondents said they were concerned about financial or personal information being compromised due to a shopping-related data breach.

The study also found that data breaches affected customers’ trust, with 78% of shoppers saying they are wary of transacting with a retailer who experienced a data breach.

Identity theft remains the most significant data security risk for American shoppers

Another 61% of the respondents indicated that online merchants or credit card providers’ data breaches were the most significant threat to their identity. The number was a 14% increase from last year.

Overall, 43% of Americans named identity theft as the greatest threat this year. More than a quarter (28%) mentioned identity theft as the greatest threat to their personal information, with COVID-19 related employment scams (20%) and health scams (17%) mentioned as the most significant identity theft risks.

Break-ins/pickpocket (15%), tax scams (13%), and puppy scams (7%) were also considered as substantial threats to personal information.

The study also found that most shoppers (64%) would feel safer if a seller used identity protection services to protect their personal information. This number was an increase from 61% in 2018 and 55% a year before. The results show that more shoppers were becoming increasingly aware of identity theft protection.

Shoppers trust big box stores with personal data

Every two in five Americans (40%) trust big box stores with their data this holiday shopping season, with 36% considering e-retailers as the most trustworthy. However, only 22% of consumers trust local small businesses with personal data.

Paige Schaffer, Generali Global Assistance CEO and Global Identity and Cyber Protection Services lead, says that the pandemic spurred an evolution in consumer shopping behavior, forcing 30% of Americans afraid of online shopping to take their transactions exclusively online.

“While consumers’ growing apathy around breaches continued, our survey also showed that more of them understand the need for identity and digital protection,” Schaffer said.

According to the survey, 86% of consumers plan to do #holidayshopping online but are more concerned about retail #databreaches during the upcoming festive season. #cybersecurity #respectdataClick to Tweet

She added that ensuring the safety of consumers’ personal information and providing assistance after data breaches would “improve customer loyalty among all retailers from the big box superstore to the local mom and pop shop.”