1 in 4 in U.S. Say Financial, Personal Information Stolen

More than one in four Americans say their financial information or personal information has been stolen, sometimes by someone they knew, according to a survey released this week.

The study done for Experian, the credit rating agency, found that about 19 percent of consumers report that financial information, including a bank or credit card number, has been misused. About 14 percent say they’ve had personal information such as a Social Security number or birth certificate taken.

“Combined, 26 percent of Americans report being the victim of one type of theft, while 7 percent report experiencing both,” the study said.

The survey, conducted by The Gallup Organization, also found that some consumers were more likely to be victimized than others. Among the prime targets were college graduates, those with annual household income of $75,000 (euro59,074) or more, people residing in the West, and Americans between the age of 30 and 49.

The study also found that about one-fifth of those who suffered the theft of financial or personal data knew the person who stole their information.

Ty Taylor, an Experian executive, said “securing personal and financial information should be part of a person’s lifestyle.”

Among the ways to do this are shredding sensitive information, never giving personal or financial data to an unknown source, and keeping track of the information on credit reports.

Experian, based in Costa Mesa, California, is a division of the Dublin, Ireland-based Experian Group Ltd.

The survey was conducted as part of a personal credit poll that Experian developed with Gallup. The latest survey involved more than 3,000 people age 18 and over with a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.