HONG KONG, June 22, 2017 – More than two-fifths (41 percent) of Hong Kongers have either personally been a victim of identity theft or know someone who has, according to a new TransUnion® (NYSE: TRU) survey.
And while fewer than half of Hong Kongers have had a personal or second-hand experience with identity theft, a majority (62 percent) report they are worried about it. The concern is particularly prevalent among younger respondents, ages 18-34, 69 percent of whom expressed concern, compared to 63 percent and 54 percent for the older age groups of 35-54 and 55+ respectively.
Although Hong Kongers are aware of the risk of identity theft, data suggests they may not have a clear understanding of its long term impact, as most are focused primarily on immediate financial losses rather than the potential negative effects on their credit score.
When considering possible identity theft outcomes presented to them, immediate financial loss tops the list with 82 percent of people concerned about it, followed by replacing personal items such as HKID card and wallet (72 percent). Conversely, less than half of respondents (49 percent) were concerned about the negative effect on their credit score after an identity breach.
“The consequences of identity theft are much more severe than an immediate loss of money,” said Lawrence Lo, Director, Consumer Interactive for TransUnion Hong Kong. “With basic personal information, such as an ID number, someone can easily obtain false lines of credit and rack up significant debt in your name, and that damage could be long–lasting. A blow to your credit score can stick with you for months or even years and have consequences on lending capability.”
Despite the majority of Hong Kongers (70 percent) claiming that they are cautious in protecting their personal information, findings reveal a lack of precautionary measures overall. Younger consumers tend to engage less in protective behaviors even though they are more worried about ID theft. Only 38 percent will avoid using unauthenticated Wi-Fi as compared to 48 percent of those aged 35-54 and 56 percent aged 55+. Similarly, just 36 percent will use a variety of passwords for different online accounts compared to percentages for those aged 35-54 and 55+ at 39 percent and 47 percent respectively.
“There are several proactive and preventative measures consumers can take to safeguard their personal information, including checking their credit score regularly for errors,” said Mr. Lo. “Identity theft monitors like TransUnion Credit Report, Score & Alert make it easy to watch for suspicious credit activity, thereby protecting users from a potentially more catastrophic outcome.”
To help safeguard against identity theft, Mr. Lo offers the following tips:
- Use varied passwords to protect your devices and accounts: Setting up different passwords for various devices/accounts helps to create a barrier that makes it more difficult for others to access your information. More importantly, one should change them regularly for more effective protection.
- Avoid accessing sensitive information on public Wi-Fi networks: Accessing personal information on public Wi-Fi is an easy way for cyber thieves to steal your information. Never check your bank account or other sites with sensitive information while connected to a public network.
- Sign up for credit alerts: Credit notification products, like TransUnion’s Credit Report, Score & Alert, help keep a close eye on suspicious activities across accounts. Paying attention to bank statements, credit card bills and account inquiries can help spot any changes you do not recognize, which might be a sign of a potential identity theft issue.
- Use caution when approaching near field communication (NFC) applications: People are increasingly using their phones to make purchases, opening the door for cyber criminals to steal data through third-party applications. Be cautious when using applications that use NFC technology – a set of close-range wireless communication standards – which allows data to be transferred between a smartphone and other devices such as through tap-to-pay methods at checkouts and other third-party payment applications.
- Consider a website’s security measures before doing business on it or sharing any personal information: Before providing any personal or payment information, look for a URL that begins with “https” (not “http”) and has the emblem of a lock on the page to assure security.
You can learn more about how to protect yourself from ID theft by visiting transunion.hk.
About the Survey
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a YouGov Plc survey conducted on behalf of TransUnion. Total sample size was 1008 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11/04/2017 – 18/04/2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Hong Kong adults (aged 18+).
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For more information, please contact:
Weber Shandwick Hong Kong
Juliana Li / Winky Chow
2533 9973 / 2533 9923