Dazed and Confused by Data Breaches

Identity Theft Resource Center survey results

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) and CyberScout have released findings from a timely new study that reveals how people respond to a data breach. Their reactions: confusion, distrust, frustration, anger and anxiety.

When people were notified that their personal information was exposed in a data breach, nearly half (49 percent) were confused about what to do. Many (31.5 percent) didn’t know where to turn for help. Three quarters of respondents reported feeling frustrated and annoyed, angry or anxious.

Less than half took basic steps to protect themselves after the breach such as changing passwords (44.3 percent), requesting a credit report (42.5 percent), purchasing a credit or identity monitoring service (20.9 percent) or contacting the FTC (18 percent).

The anxiety lasted even after victims received credit or identity monitoring services, with only 11.5 percent feeling confident they would be okay, and more than half feeling anxious, knowing that their information was still exposed—a reasonable response considering that most post breach services only last a year, while exposed personal information can be exploited by identity thieves at any point in the future.

The vast majority of consumers recognize the serious impacts of a data breach, with 80 percent of respondents understanding that they were at higher risk for identity theft that could lead to financial harm.

The massive Equifax data breach impacted 143 million people. Without guidance they can trust, millions may be left confused and fail to take basic steps to protect themselves.