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Fear of Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud Worry Consumers During the 2005 Holiday Season, According to IBM Survey


Consumers Desire Protection From Advanced Technologies to Keep Personal Information Secure

SOMERS, NY -- Nov 16, 2005 -- Shoppers are concerned that their personal information is at risk of being stolen when they hit the stores -- physically or virtually -- this holiday season, according to an IBM survey of consumers. As a result, these shoppers say they plan to shop differently, more conservatively and possibly even spend less.

According to the survey of 1,000 American consumers, one out of every seven Americans (14%) has had their personal and/or credit card information stolen, with one in ten victims experiencing theft during a holiday season. Of those victimized, nearly 20 percent of those victims say they plan to shop less online this holiday season.

Of those American consumers who plan to shop for the holidays, almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents say they are concerned for the safety of their personal and/or credit and debit card information during the busy holiday shopping season. Nearly half (49%) of those concerned believe their personal information is in jeopardy, while another 46 percent worry about their credit card information being stolen. More than one third (39%) are concerned about having their debit card information stolen.

When asked what would help alleviate their fears, nearly half of all consumers (49%) said that biometric technology (a fingerprint ID system) would be helpful. Two in five respondents (40%) also cited more sophisticated encryption technology and a “dynamic signature pad” (40%) that would protect their signature from forgery as something that would calm their fears about credit card fraud. One third (32%) believe a device that scans the iris of your eye and matches it to data stored on your card is a good solution to avoid credit card fraud or identity theft.

“Consumers buy from retailers they trust and those retailers who are making security a priority will have a competitive advantage,” said Joseph L. Gagnon, Global Retail Leader, IBM. “Advanced technologies, from sophisticated encryption to bio-metric technologies, are being developed by researchers to help retailers increase security and build that all-important trust with shoppers.”

In fact, two thirds (66%) of cardholders are more concerned about credit card fraud and identity theft than they were just one year ago. Half of those respondents worry most about using their credit cards to make purchases online (50%) and over the phone (49%).

Cardholders who fear their personal information is at risk while shopping could spend less this year on holiday purchases, according to the survey findings. Roughly one-third of cardholders said they could spend less on their debit/credit cards while shopping online (32%) or through a catalog (31%), and 29 percent of cardholders said they could spend less in retail stores this year.

The survey also asked shoppers who they believe is responsible for protecting credit and/or debit card information. More than one-quarter of consumers (27%) believe the responsibility falls on the shoulders of credit card companies while fifteen percent (15%) hold retailers accountable. Yet, over one quarter (26%) of respondents also believe individuals are also responsible for protecting their own information.

Additional Survey Findings:

* 91% of Americans believe that the stealing of credit card information is considered identity theft.
* Half of all cardholders who are concerned about having their identity or credit card information stolen say they are most worried about paying via credit card online (50%) and over the phone (49%) when making holiday purchases.
* While more than one-quarter of Americans (29%) plan to purchase gifts online this holiday season, three-quarters (75%) of these online shoppers say they do not plan to increase security on their personal computers.
* Mass merchandisers and department stores continue to lead Americans’ shopping destinations for holiday gift buying. In 2005, consumers plan to shop most frequently in Mass Merchandisers (56%) and Department stores (55%).
* Roughly one-third (36%) of those who have had past experience with credit card fraud or identity theft say that it has affected the way they plan to shop online this holiday season. Nearly 20 percent of those who have been victims say they would shop less online this holiday season while nearly 10 percent of victims say they would shop less at retail stores.

Methodology: Opinion Research Corporation conducted this survey on behalf of IBM. A total of 1000 telephone interviews were conducted with American adults age 18 and older. The questionnaire consisted of sixteen closed-ended questions, not including screeners or demographics.

About IBM
IBM, the world’s largest information technology company, is the leader in providing the Retail Industry with a full range of e-business solutions, including: point-of-sale systems, automated self-checkout systems, other hardware and software technology, consulting focused on business transformation, IT strategy and planning, store operations improvement, and supply chain optimization, and with services, such as outsourcing, managed operations, systems integration, and application development and design. IBM has a list of retail customers in 100 countries worldwide that reads like a “Who’s Who” of retailing. For more information on IBM Retail Solutions, please visit


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