Online Canadians’ Inactive Accounts Could Put Them at Risk of Fraud Identity Theft: Ipsos Reid

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Seven in Ten (73%) ‘Concerned’ About Falling Victim to Identity Theft, Safety of their Personal Information (69%)

December 9, 2008. Toronto, ON – A new Ipsos-Reid poll conducted on behalf of Capital One has revealed that seven in ten (73%) are ‘concerned’ (29% very/43%) somewhat) about falling victim to identify theft through an online site, and a similar proportion (69%) are ‘concerned’ (29% very/40% somewhat) about the safety of their personal information being held in online accounts.

More than six in ten (65%) online Canadians have at least one online shopping account, and many also have accounts related to email (81%), social networking sites (61%), travel sites (40%), online magazines/newspapers (39%), entertainment and venue subscriptions (36%), photo-sharing (22%), dating sites (20%), sporting sites (17%), and services like real estate agents or wedding services (13%). In fact, focusing only on those online sites mentioned above, Canadians on average have 7 online accounts in total.

Despite the concern of most online Canadians, many appear to be leaving themselves vulnerable to identify theft by keeping online accounts open, even though they no longer use them. While online Canadians have accumulated all of these online accounts, many have not been used within the last year. Among those who have accounts on each of the respective sites mentioned above, 55% say they haven’t used any of their dating site accounts, while others have not used any of the accounts registered on real-estate or other service sites (42%), travel sites (39%), photo-sharing sites (38%), entertainment and venue sites (36%), email sites (31%), newspaper/magazines sites (29%), sporting sites (29%), social networking sites (26%). Further, thinking about just these types of sites, Canadians on average have 2 online accounts that are currently inactive. These inactive accounts could pose a security threat, since they likely store personal data, and are no longer being monitored by their owners.

Thinking about these inactive accounts, only one in three (33%) online Canadians have pro-actively closed down any online accounts that they no longer use. For those who have, two in three (65%) say that the process was ‘easy’ (22% extremely/43% somewhat), while three in ten (28%) say it was ‘difficult’ (6% extremely/23% somewhat). Among those who haven’t tried, common reasons for not doing so include not knowing that it was necessary to do so (28%), forgetting about the account (23%) or the password (15%), or finding the process too complicated (8%). One quarter (27%) of online Canadians who have not shut down any of their own accounts say they haven’t because they have used all their accounts within the last year.

One Quarter (26%) Know Someone Who has Fallen Victim to Identify Theft.

One quarter (26%) of online Canadians say they or someone they know has been a victim of identify theft. Further, 24% say they’ve personally been the victim of a ‘phishing’ scam, and another 16% say their credit card has been used fraudulently, to make unauthorized purchases. One half (49%) of online Canadians have received emails that appeared to be sent by a financial institution that have asked for verification, passwords or other personal information.

In order to protect their identity, while Canadians might not be great at shutting down inactive online accounts, many are taking other precautionary steps. The following chart outlines the frequency with which Canadians take various steps to protect their identity.

Canadians Online Holiday Shopping Intentions.

Nearly one half (47%) of online Canadians say they’re ‘likely’ (13% very/33% somewhat) to shop online for holiday purchases this year. An equal proportion (47%), though, says they’re ‘not likely at all’ to shop online, and another 7% don’t yet know if they will shop online this holiday season.

  • Men (50%) are more likely than women (43%) to say they’ll shop online this year.
  • Middle-aged (42%), aged 35 to 54, and older Canadians (38%) are much less likely than younger Canadians (64%) to indicate their intention to shop online.
  • British Columbians (56%) are most likely to say they’ll shop online, followed by Albertans (52%), Ontarians (52%), Atlantic Canadians (47%), residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (46%) and finally Quebec (31%).

These are the findings of a poll conducted on behalf of Capital One, conducted from November 3 to November 7, 2008. This online survey of 1049 Canadian adults was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid’s national online panel. The results of this poll are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls because they are based on samples drawn from opt-in online panels, not on random samples that mirror the population within a statistical probability ratio. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. However, an unweighted probability sample of this size, with a 100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had the entire adult population of Canada been polled.

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada’s market intelligence leader, the country’s leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. To learn more, please visit www.ipsos.ca.