Consumer Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Fraud Detection Behaviours

Working Paper Authors Publish Date
38 John Gilbert
Norman P. Archer
Mar. 2011

Identity theft and fraud are crimes that have become prevalent in the ‘wired world’. The financial consequences are significant and growing. Consumers may develop attitudes based on previous experience with identity theft and fraud. These attitudes affect the wide variety of behaviours consumers employ to prevent identity theft, detect identity fraud, and mitigate the impacts of identity fraud. Using survey data, this paper examines the relationship between past experience of consumers and their levels of concern, and derives the principal components that make up consumer behaviours. The components are physical prevention measures, account monitoring, agency monitoring, password security, and risky behaviour avoidance. These components were found to be almost orthogonal, implying that consumers tend to ‘buy into’ a particular component of behaviour, employing all the behaviours in that component without regard to other components. This can leave ‘holes’ in consumer defence against identity theft and fraud. Finally, the relationship between the levels of concern and these components of consumer behaviour are also examined.

Acknowledgements: This paper is based on data collected for a national survey of consumer identity theft by Susan Sproule and Norm Archer, available as MeRC Working Paper #23 “Measuring Identity Theft in Canada 2008 Consumer Survey”, July 2008 via https://merc.mcmaster.ca/working-papers/23.html. Financial support for this study came from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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