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Three-quarters of Americans concerned about identity theft during holiday shopping season

Generali Global Assistance releases survey findings on holiday shopping patterns, and the underlying threats to consumer identities and financial well-being.

BETHESDA, MD. – A vast majority of Americans say their willingness to do business with a retailer during this holiday shopping season would be impacted if the retailer experienced a data breach in the past, according to a consumer survey conducted by Generali Global Assistance, a leader in the assistance industry since its founding in 1963, part of the multinational Generali Group, and the developer of a proprietary and innovative identity and digital protection platform. 

The survey found that while the vast majority of Americans (91%) plan to do holiday shopping this season, most are skeptical that businesses are doing all that they can to protect their personal information. Forty percent of consumers say businesses are not doing all they can, while 38% are unsure if businesses are doing enough to safeguard their information. Those who plan to shop for the holidays expressed concern about their financial or personal information being compromised due to a data breach, with 75% indicating that they are either very or somewhat concerned about such a breach. 

Just over half of shoppers (57%) believe a data breach of an online merchant will pose the greatest identity theft threat this holiday season, while 22% consider a data breach of a brick-and-mortar point-of-sale system to be the most acute risk.  Data breaches weigh much more heavily on holiday shoppers' minds than being pickpocketed or robbed (11%), or having their car broken into (10%) when it comes to identity theft. A sign of their growing concerns, 84% of Americans say their willingness to do business with a retailer would be impacted if the retailer has experienced a data breach in the past.

Paige Schaffer, President and COO of Generali Global Assistance's Identity and Digital Protection Services Global Unit, commented on today's news, "Consumers are clearly more concerned than ever about identity theft and related issues as we enter the 2017 holiday season. With data breaches at major organizations occurring so frequently and impacting literally millions of people in the U.S. alone, consumer confidence in the ability of businesses to protect their data has been shaken. This is why identity protection is so essential in this day-in-age. For many consumers, stress is at a year-round high during the holiday season. Offering identity protection is an effective way for businesses to help restore trust in their commitment to protecting customer data, as well as provide more peace-of-mind to consumers so they can focus what matters most to them this holiday season."

According to the survey, over half of all Americans (55%) would have more confidence that businesses are actively working to protect their data, and reduce their risk of identity theft or fraud, if these businesses were to offer identity protection services, whether for free or at a cost. Similarly, retail businesses that currently offer identity protection services, or that plan to do so in the future, instill greater confidence in 56% of Americans. Despite concerns over data breaches, the most popular form of payment for holiday purchases this year will be credit cards, followed closely by cash (49%) and debit cards (41%). Only 8% of shoppers will pay with a check and just 3% will utilize mobile payments.

With respect to more general holiday shopping trends, the survey found that 40% of Americans plan to spend more than $500 this season. Seventy-five percent of holiday shoppers plan to do their shopping online, with 62% planning to shop via computer and 30% planning to shop via a mobile device. This same proportion of shoppers (75%) plan to visit a brick-and-mortar store. Whether they are brick-and-mortar or online stores, most holiday shoppers (63%) plan to shop at 1-5 stores, with another 28% saying they will shop at 6-10 stores.

Ms. Schaffer concluded, "Offering identity protection services to consumers not only significantly increases confidence in retailers, but more importantly ensures that shoppers' identities and financial well-being are protected. With that in mind, identity protection should be at the top of everyone's wish list, and can provide consumers with peace of mind so that they can enjoy a celebratory holiday season."

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