Generation Y At Higher Risk For Online Identity Theft

    March 4, 2009

People in Generation Y tend to be at a higher risk for online identity theft, but are less concerned with the threat than those in Generation X and Baby Boomers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates Identity Theft Report.

Online conversations about identity theft indicate that 83 percent of the Baby Boomer generation (those between the ages of 45 and 63) say they have a high level of concern about identity theft, compared to 79 percent of those in Generation X (ages 31 to 44) and only 47 percent of those in generation Y (ages 19 to 30).

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Concerned posters who take steps to protect their identity make up 72 percent of those discussing identity theft, while 24 percent say they are moderately concerned and 4 percent have low levels of concern.

"The differences in levels of concern regarding identity theft among the different generations can be partially attributed to their differing levels of technological awareness," said Carter Truong, senior manager in the J.D. Power and Associates Web Intelligence Division.

Carter Truong
Carter Truong

"Younger consumers tend to be more tech-savvy than older consumers, which gives them several benefits in protecting against identity theft. For example, their personal computers tend to be better protected and they’re more likely to recognize-and avoid-phishing scams than are older generations. However, younger people also tend to have more of a presence online, leaving them open to more chances for identity theft."

The report found that women were more concerned about identity theft than men. Seventy-eight percent of women are highly concerned about identity theft, and 6 percent say they have low levels of concern, compared with 67 percent of men with high levels of concern and 3 percent with low levels of concern.

"Women tend to discuss identity theft in a more reactive state, meaning that many online conversations were triggered by having already fallen victim," said Truong. "However, more men than women fall into the moderately concerned category and discuss identity theft in their Web postings on a more proactive level.

"Men seem to be more aware of how to prevent identity theft, but this awareness often gives them a false sense of security. They know the risks of identity theft but don’t show much sign of changing their behaviors to prevent it."

The report also found people say they are aware of identity theft issues on social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, a majority do not take security into consideration when creating their profiles.

"While social networking sites can be a hot spot for identity theft, people see these sites as a way to express themselves, and limiting or changing their profiles makes them feel like they’re censoring their identity," said Truong.

"While communicating online, people are unwilling to sacrifice this self-expression as a way to prevent identity theft."