mastercardMore than one in three Americans (77 percent) feel insecure about the online security of the personal financial information and the possibility that sensitive data – social security numbers specifically – will be stolen or compromised, according to results of a new survey from MasterCard.

Americans’ concerns and what they say is at odds with what they actually do to protect their online financial and sensitive personal information, MasterCard found, however, according to MasterCard’s “Emotion of Safety & Security Survey.”

American Views on Financial Data Security
A majority of Americans are worried their email will be hacked or their home robbed, but to a lesser extent. More than six in ten (62 percent) of survey respondents said they were anxious about their email being hacked. Six in 10 (59 percent) said they were worried about their home being robbed. More than half (55 percent) said they would rather naked pictures of themselves be posted online than have their financial information stolen.

The actions Americans take to protect their online financial and sensitive personal data belie their worries, according to MasterCard’s survey results. While more than 9 in 10 (92 percent) said they take precautions to protect their financial information nearly half (46 percent) rarely or never change the passwords for online financial accounts.

Furthermore, more than 4 in 10 (44 percent) use the same password for multiple accounts while 4 in 10 (39 percent) have accessed their financial data online via public networks susceptible to hackers.

MasterCard also found Americans are looking forward to using new, more secure electronic payments methods, including chip-based credit and debit cards, as well as mobile payments technology.

With the U.S. being the last major market in which swipe-and-sign electronic payment cards are used, roughly half the world’s credit card fraud occurs in that country. Yet Americans hold only about 25 percent of the world’s credit/debit cards.

That’s due to change this year as banks and credit card issuers, including MasterCard, replace sign-and-swipe magnetic stripe credit and debit cards with chip-based ones. The so-called “liability shift” will enhance the security of Americans’ sensitive financial data, MasterCard and other industry participants say.

“Our survey reveals there’s a sharp contrast between what people say or think they are doing to protect their information and what they actually do, but that’s understandable – we’re human,” Carolyn Balfany, SVP of U.S. Product Delivery – EMV, MasterCard, was quoted in a press release.

Chip Cards to the Rescue?
According to MasterCard’s survey results 7 in 10 consumers use chip cards or intend to use them soon. More than half (56 percent) use mobile digital payments via an app or website or plan to do so soon.

  • Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their personal information. About half (48 percent) of consumers believe they are most responsible for protecting their own financial information from being stolen or comprised.
  • Americans believe there are more secure ways to pay today than ever before. A majority (83 percent) of consumers are excited about new secure technologies helping protect their financial information and 77 percent feel there are more secure ways to pay than ever before. Most people (88 percent) also trust that their payment network is arming them with secure technologies to protect them from fraud, and a majority (77 percent) feel that new technologies in the payment sector are having an overall positive impact on personal security.
  • New payment technologies are becoming part of Americans’ everyday vernacular. While some technologies are still growing in popularity, consumers already have some awareness of these new ways to pay. Three-quarters of Americans have heard of biometric payments and a majority (82 percent) have heard of contactless or tap-and-go payments.
  • The Millennial generation has the most confidence in a secure future ahead. While the survey does not show big swings in behavior and technology adoption by generation, Millennial Americans (45 percent) are least likely to believe that the risk of their financial information being stolen or compromised is going to increase in the next three years, compared to 58 percent of Gen-Xers and 61 percent of Baby Boomers.

“This survey really gets to the heart of consumers’ emotions around safety and security – and what we’ve uncovered is that while many Americans may be concerned, they’re also incredible resilient and optimistic about change ahead,” Balfany continued. “People of all generations want to take ownership of their financial information, they’re becoming more security conscious, and they’re actively embracing new technologies and services that will help keep them safe.”

Commented identity theft and personal security expert Robert Siciliano. “Today’s digital lifestyle means consumer concerns for online safety and security trumps physical security as a close second. It’s great that consumers have heightened awareness, but while they may understand personal responsibility they still want to feel protected by the institutions who are also responsible for protecting their data.”