41 million U.S. adults have had their identities stolen, according to a new Bankrate.com (NYSE: RATE) report, and another 49 million know someone who has been affected.
Many people are putting themselves in harm's way by engaging in risky behaviors. For example:
42% of Americans do not regularly check their credit reports.
36% conduct banking and other sensitive business on unsecured WiFi networks that do not require a password.
28% say their online account passwords are all or mostly the same. 18-25 year-olds are the worst offenders: about half of them use the same password all or most of the time.
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"About two in five Americans have either been an identity theft victim or know someone who has," said Bankrate.com analyst Mike Cetera. "This is a widespread problem and many people aren't doing enough to protect themselves."
The recently announced Yahoo hack, which included 500 million accounts, is the latest major data breach to affect consumers. Other prominent examples from the past few years include Target and Home Depot.
At myBankrate.com, consumers can stay on top of their credit with free monthly reports and scores. Identity theft protection is available for a nominal fee.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 316 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from September 15-18, 2016. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.