Chronicle Journal: Finance

Just 33% of Americans Checked Their Credit Reports in the Past Year, Down From Last Two Years

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite an increase in credit card fraud attempts during the pandemic, only 33% of Americans checked their credit reports in the past year. This represents a drop from 2019, when 39% checked their credit reports, and 37% in 2018.

(PRNewsfoto/CompareCards)

This is the third year CompareCards has conducted this survey, following the massive Equifax data breach that occurred four years ago.

Full report: https://www.comparecards.com/blog/just-33-percent-of-americans-checked-credit-reports/

Key findings

  • Just 33% of Americans checked their credit reports in the past year, down from 39% a year ago and 37% the year before. Most troubling, just 20% of those aged 75 and older reviewed their credit report in the last year, placing them at an increased risk of fraud.
  • Cardholders are taking fewer actions to prevent identity theft than they were a year ago — though most claim to be more diligent about looking for signs of identity theft. Fewer consumers are checking their credit reports, reviewing bank statements, changing banking passwords and checking their credit score in 2020, compared to 2019.
  • Nearly 1 in 2 people (47%) with a credit or debit card have provided their entire Social Security number in an online form in the past month. When we conducted this survey in August 2019, just 40% had done so.
  • 47% of cardholders have been notified that their personal information was exposed in a data breach over the past year. Of that group, 14% said it happened more than once.

Cardholders taking less action to prevent identity theft than previous years

Despite having the ability to check their credit reports for free once a week since April, just a little over a third of consumers did so at any time over the past year.

  • 41% of cardholders weren't aware they are currently able to check their credit report for free weekly due to the pandemic.
  • However, when informed of this opportunity, 28% of consumers admitted to not planning to take advantage of this added allowance.
  • When it comes to keeping on top of their credit scores, only half of credit or debit cardholders check their credit score every single month, and a third admit that they don't always review their card or bank statements each month to ensure their accuracy.
  • Just 41% of women do so monthly, whereas 59% of men do.
  • When it comes to different generations' credit score habits, Gen Xers are the best about checking their credit score monthly, followed by millennials.

Pandemic fatigue may be distracting focus from identity theft

There is a lot to worry about in 2020, between the global pandemic, economic downturn and rampant job loss.

  • Half of cardholders reported feeling more worried about their personal information being stolen than they were last year, but in 2019, more consumers (58%) were worried about this theft than the year prior.
  • Similarly in 2020, 84% agreed that data breaches are becoming more common, which dropped from 91% in 2019.

Consumers hesitant about providing personal information online, but most do it anyway

  • Nearly 1 in 2 people (47%) with a credit or debit card provided their entire Social Security number in an online form in the past month.

When we conducted this survey in August 2019, just 40% had done so. This increase may have occurred because of fluctuations in the job market — applying for unemployment and onboarding at new jobs (while working remotely) may require submitting a Social Security number in a digital form.

  • 74% of consumers are hesitant to provide their full Social Security number.
  • 49% of people are hesitant to provide the last four digits of their SSN.
  • This concern about providing personal information extends to addresses (43%), dates of birth (41%), and first and last names (37%).
  • 70% of cardholders with a Facebook account reported opting to "sign in with Facebook" if given the option rather than creating a new account on a website, at least some of the time.

Nearly half of cardholders were victims of a data breach within the last year — here's how to protect yourself

Considering that 47% of cardholders reported that their personal information was exposed in a data breach over the past year (with 14% experiencing this more than once), consumers may want to take stronger steps to protect their identity.

  • Freeze your credit. With a credit freeze, or security freeze, you can restrict access to your credit reports and prevent others from opening new credit-related accounts with your information.
  • Sign up for identity theft alerts. There are a handful of companies on the market that can provide services for monitoring identity theft, as well as keeping an eye out for Social Security number scanning.
  • Create safe digital habits. Set calendar reminders to change important passwords often and learn to recognize the signs of phishing emails and other online scams.

"People need to remember that nobody cares as much about their credit and their money as they do," Matt Schulz noted, Chief Credit Analyst at LendingTree. "So, it's really important that you take the time to protect your credit, to protect your vital information and to protect your finances. Because nobody's going to do it for you."

To view the full report and for more information, visit www.comparecards.com/blog/just-33-percent-of-americans-checked-credit-reports/. 

About LendingTree
LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE) is the nation's leading online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices they need to be confident in their financial decisions. LendingTree empowers consumers to shop for financial services the same way they would shop for airline tickets or hotel stays, comparing multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one simple search, and can choose the option that best fits their financial needs. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student refinances, credit cards and more. Through the My LendingTree platform, consumers receive free credit scores, credit monitoring and recommendations to improve credit health. My LendingTree proactively compares consumers' credit accounts against offers on our network, and notifies consumers when there is an opportunity to save money. In short, LendingTree's purpose is to help simplify financial decisions for life's meaningful moments through choice, education and support. LendingTree, LLC is a subsidiary of LendingTree, Inc. For more information, go to www.lendingtree.com, dial 800-555-TREE, like our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter @LendingTree.

About CompareCards:
CompareCards' mission is to help people make smarter, more informed, healthier financial decisions based on deeper knowledge of financial offers. Each month, over 2.9 million visitors come to CompareCards' website to independently compare credit cards side-by-side and choose a credit card based on interest rate, reward benefit, cost savings, and other factors that are important to each person. CompareCards provides easy-to-use, objective tools and educational resources that help people do everything from making credit card comparisons to managing their credit health. For more information, please visit http://www.comparecards.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
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SOURCE CompareCards

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