More consumers are aware of the increase in data breaches in 2015 compared to last year but overall concerns about identity theft have declined, according to TransUnion’s second annual Holiday Identity theft survey.
The results show 54% of consumers are aware of the increase in data breaches, but their concern about identity theft declined to 52% this year compared to 63% in 2014.
Just 35% of respondents to the survey said they plan to change their shopping plans this year because of the increase in data breaches, according to TransUnion.
Overall, respondents said they hold themselves accountable for protecting their personal information and financial accounts.
“When asked who, among banks, credit card companies, government, law enforcement, retailers or themselves, is most responsible for protecting them from identity theft, more than a third (36%) answered that they felt the primary responsibility for their security,” according to TransUnion.
TransUnion received responses from more than 1,000 consumers between the ages of 18 and 64 for its Holiday Identity Theft Survey.
"The drop in consumer fear of security breaches is not reflective of the security environment today,” said Ken Chaplin, senior vice president at TransUnion. "Data breaches are inevitable and most consumers are vulnerable to identity theft, so it’s crucial that they remain vigilant and take steps to mitigate their risks, especially during the holidays."
While reported cases of identity theft have remained steady since 2012, last year about 17.6 million consumers in the U.S. age 16 and older reported at least one incident of identity theft, according to the report Victims of Identity Theft 2014 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The report did show that debt collectors are playing a vital role in alerting consumers about suspicious activity on their accounts. Nearly 14% of consumers who reported they were "other identity theft" victims - meaning something beyond stealing from one of their existing accounts - reported that communication with a debt collector first alerted them to the fraud.
According to BJS statistician Erika Harrell, PhD, most victims of identity theft hear about it through their financial institution. Forty-five percent of identity theft victims learned about it through their financial institution compared to 18% who found out when they noticed fraudulent charges on an account. Overall, debt collectors are the seventh most likely group or business to notify a consumer about identity theft.Identity fraud also presents a significant risk to students, and they are more likely than average fraud victims to learn that they are a victim of identity fraud from a debt collector, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2015 Identity Fraud Study.