Despite recent reports showing increases in identity theft, consumers’ knowledge on identity theft is not keeping pace with the crime. According to the new 2013 LifeLock Tax Fraud Survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of LifeLock in February, among 2,090 U.S. adults age 18 and older, less than one quarter (24 percent) of taxpayers selected the top 2 points of concern on a 5 point scale about identity theft when filing their returns. Additionally, 70 percent of Americans think it is possible for a fraudster to use their name and Social Security Number (SSN) to file a return before they do, blocking the actual taxpayer’s refund from the IRS. Yet despite this concern, 38% of those who have previous years’ returns saved on their computer do not have password protection for these files.
In February 2013 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released their annual “
Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book
” that looked at consumer complaints from January 1 through December 21, 2012. Identity theft was the number one complaint category in the Consumer Sentinel Network, and of those more than 369,000 complaints, Government Documents and Benefits fraud accounted for 46% of all complaints. As noted by the FTC, identity theft related to Government Documents and Benefits includes Tax or Wage Related Fraud, accounting for 43% of the complaints.
“As a company that sees identity theft threats 24/7, we are concerned about the large disconnect between this growing threat and consumer education. This is really playing into the hands of identity thieves,” said LifeLock President Hilary Schneider.
The survey examined Americans’ identity fraud concerns and tax return filing behavior for tax season.
The 2013 LifeLock Tax Fraud Survey highlights include:
- No Password = No Protection – Nearly three in ten (29 percent) Americans keep copies of previous years’ tax returns on their computer, but 38 percent of this group do not protect their returns with a password. This makes these returns more vulnerable to criminals through peer-to-peer file sharing programs or lost devices.
- College Graduates at Great Risk – Those who are college graduates or have higher education (45 percent) are more likely than those with some college education or less (22 percent) to store copies of previous years’ tax returns on a computer, but 44 percent of this group still did not have the return password-protected.
- North Versus South – Americans in the Southern states (27 percent) are more likely to have selected the top 2 points on a 5 point scale of concern about identity theft when filing compared to their Northeastern counterparts (18 percent).
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of LifeLock from February 4
, 2013 among 2,090 adults ages 18 and older. When a population number was included, it was extrapolated from the number of Americans 18 and older in the most recent U.S. Census data. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Scott Love of Schwartz MSL at
About Harris Interactive
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the Harris Poll®
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(NYSE:LOCK), is a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and identity risk assessment and fraud protection services for enterprises. Since 2005, LifeLock has been relentlessly protecting identities by providing consumers with the tools and confidence they need to help protect themselves from identity theft and manage their credit. In October 2012, Javelin Strategy & Research named LifeLock Ultimate™ a “Best in Class Overall” identity theft protection solution and also named it “Best in Detection”. In March 2012, LifeLock further demonstrated its commitment to combating identity fraud with the purchase of
ID Analytics, Inc.
, a leader in enterprise identity risk management that provides visibility into identity risk and credit worthiness. ID Analytics, Inc. currently operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of LifeLock, Inc.