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Identity Theft: Who's At Risk?

This AARP Fraud Watch Network study aimed to assess Americans’ habits around protecting their personal and financial information. Overall, the study finds that many are not taking precautions necessary to reduce their risk of identity theft.

Many Americans Struggle With Low-Tech Personal Information Protection

  • Almost six in ten (59%) Americans do not regularly lock their mailbox.
  • Over half (54%) of Americans 18-49 have left at least one valuable personal item in their car (e.g., a purse/wallet, paystub, laptop) that could be used to steal their identity just in the last week.  One in four (24%) Americans 50 and older have done so.
  • More than one in five (21%) Americans say they never shred any of the personal documents that could be used to steal their identity.

Many Have Also Failed to Adopt Online Theft Prevention Habits 

  • Over one in three (35%) Americans have not set up online access to all of their bank/credit card accounts.  Over four in ten (42%) Americans 50+ have not set up online access to all of their bank/credit accounts.
  • More than four in ten (45%) Americans admit to using the same password on two or more of their accounts.
  • Almost half (49%) of Americans have not changed the password on their online bank account in the past six months.

Few Adults Take Advantage Of Identity Protection Services

  • Over half (52%) of Americans do not check their free credit report annually.
  • Just 14% of Americans say they subscribe to identity theft protection services such as Lifelock, Identity Guard, or LegalShield. 
  • Just 17% of Americans check their credit regularly with one of the credit bureaus.
  • Just 7% use password services such as LastPass or KeePass.

Twelve Percent Of Americans Age 18 Or Older Have Been Subject To Identity Theft In Just The Past 12 Months

  • Four in 10 Americans age 18 or older (41%) have been notified by a company they have done business with in the past year that their information has been subject to a security breach.

Study was completed using an e-Rewards online panel of 2,250 adults age 18+. Data were weighted to represent the US population of adults 18+ by age, gender, ethnicity, and region using the Census’ Current Population Survey. Data were collected August 6-August 12, 2014. For more information, contact G. Oscar Anderson at


Suggested Citation:

Anderson, G. Oscar. Identity Theft: Who's At Risk? Washington, DC: AARP Research, September 2014.

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