LifeLock (http://www.lifelock.com), provider of proactive identity theft protection services for consumers and fraud and risk solutions for enterprises. has announced newly commissioned research conducted by Forrester Consulting about consumer attitudes, behaviors, and exposures related to identity theft.
The February 2014 survey revealed that individuals who experience life milestones related to "new beginnings," including getting married, becoming new parents, buying a home or entering the dating scene, are more likely than the average population to become victims of identity theft.
"Life milestones in this day and age are often accompanied by significant sharing of personal data. Whether you’re getting married or buying a new home, you’re filling out many different forms both digitally and on paper – and you may have very little control over where your highly personal information goes," says Hilary Schneider, president of LifeLock. "Our research shows that people can take a few simple steps during these moments of time that may help reduce the risk of identity theft."
Of the life events studied, newlyweds experienced the highest rate of identity fraud and are eight times more likely than the average population to experience identity theft. New parents also face a heightened risk of identity theft at more than five times the average. Both new homeowners and the newly single are almost three times as likely.
The research found that several factors of modern life are driving up the risk of identity theft. First, the proliferation of devices that generate and collect data put people at greater risk because they generate and store more personal information than users realize. Another factor driving risk is the increasing use of online services that collect user data without appropriate levels of governance and security. Additionally, an increase in risky behaviors, including using auto-logins and using the same password for multiple websites, in exchange for convenience is also putting people at risk.
"At the end of the day, the answer to how we respond to this research is not to stop living our digital lives, but to be aware that life’s milestones include a lot of social sharing of personal data and to take simple, but crucial steps to protect our identities," says Jean Chatzky, personal finance expert and LifeLock educational advisor. Key recommendations for people living through these unique periods of time include the following:
° For newlyweds: Getting married is a good reason to revisit a healthcare plan, especially if one partner has better coverage than the other. Newlyweds are 64% more likely to use online healthcare management services, a behavior associated with greater risk of identity theft. Additionally, those who have experienced identity theft within the newlywed group are almost three times as likely to have experienced medical-related fraud.
° For new parents: Paying medical bills, filling out insurance information and securing a birth certificate are all part of having a new baby. All of this personal information getting routed through the system puts new parents at greater risk of identity theft. New parents are almost three times more likely to have health insurance information breached. Many doctor’s offices ask for a Social Security number but don’t really need to use it, so new parents should refrain from sharing this sensitive information if at all possible.
° For new homeowners: From small updates and cleaning to major repairs, updating a new home can bring many new strangers in the house. New homeowners are 2.8 times more likely to bring unattended strangers home. New homeowners should make sure to securely store personal information.
° For the newly single: Socializing with new people is part of entering the dating scene. It also means sharing personal details. Newly single adults are more likely to participate in risky behavior like using public Wi-Fi and are more connected than the average adult online population, and this increases risk.