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In the wake of dozens of high profile breaches of consumer information at retail establishments including Target and Neiman Marcus, research conducted by the nonprofit organization American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of American consumers say they do not trust retailers to adequately protect thier payment information.

“As technology and the digital age continue to advance, retailers need to find ways to improve security to minimize the likelihood and scope of a potential data breach,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of ACCC. “Identity theft is at an all-time high and retailers are rapidly losing consumers’ trust, all of which is detrimental to the economy.”

Key findings in the study include:

  • 42% of consumers are now more likely to pay for purchases with cash or check
  • 52% have been compromised by way of a lost or stolen credit/debit card, a security breach or an identity theft scam
  • 65% of onsumers between the ages of 35 and 54 have experienced identity theft
  • 41% are not confident that they know how to protect themselves if their information has been compromised
  • The number of breaches tracked from 2012 to 2013 have dramatically increased by 30%
  • Credit and debit card fraud cases in 2012 resulted in losses totaling $11.27 billion

“Data breaches have become a national epidemic and it is necessary that consumers know how to protect their personal information and what to do in the case that their information is compromised,” continued Trumble. “By being proactive, consumers can avoid the potential for devastating financial ruin that comes as a result of identity theft.”

ACCC’s “Identity Theft Checklist” recommends those who believe they are at risk should:

  • Contact each of the three credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – and ask to place an identity theft alert on your reports – often if you are a victim of a large-scale security breach such as the 2007 TJX Corporation or 2013 Target breaches, the corporation at fault will provide you with 1 year of free monitoring at no cost to you
  • Contact your bank and creditors. You can report stolen/missing cards, as well as any fraudulent activity on your statements. You can also close/freeze any accounts that have been tampered with
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission. File a complaint with the FTC and you will receive a document verifying that you are the victim – hen, fill out the ID theft affidavit
  • File a report with local police – your identity should be treated like any other stolen property, so document and report the theft to begin the investigation, and get a copy of the report as evidence for re-securing your identity and removing the fraudulent charges

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