Online Shoppers Greatly Fear Identity Theft, Loss of Privacy

Nov 23, 2005 10:09 PM  By

We’re well into the second decade of the Web, and e-commerce is flourishing. Nevertheless, it carries some very real risks, including widespread identity theft and other scams. Consumers are therefore a lot more careful about their online behavior these days, reports a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International for Consumer Reports WebWatch.

The study, which polled 1,501 adult Internet users in the United States, found that nine out of ten respondents have made changes to their behavior because of fear of identity theft. In the group that made changes, 53% have stopped giving out personal information over the Internet; 30% have reduced their overall use of the Internet; and 25% have stopped buying things online. Among those respondents who continue to shop online, 29% have cut back on how often they buy products.

Worry about identity theft is rampant among online consumers. Eighty percent of Internet users are somewhat concerned that their personal information can be stolen, and 45% are highly concerned. Fifty-four percent of those who shop online report they have become more likely to read a site’s privacy policy or user agreement before making a purchase. Eight percent of online shoppers have started using just a single credit card for all the items they buy online.

Of course, some sites have managed to build trust among shoppers despite the odds. The majority of Internet users are at least somewhat trusting of both online stores and online auctions. Seventy-seven percent of online users place a lot (38%) or a moderate amount (39%) of trust in sites where products can be bought; six out of ten Internet users say they trust online auction sites a lot (24%) or somewhat (37%).

For more survey results and information, call 914-378-2600 or visit http://www.ConsumerWebWatch.org.