Have you started your holiday shopping already? If so, you aren't alone. The 2017 holiday shopping survey from BestBlackFriday.com shows that over one-quarter of Americans started their holiday shopping in September or before.
According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shopping is expected to increase as much as 4% this year, sending up to $682 billion into the coffers of retailers. Rest assured that stores want a significant piece of this pie. They will be enticing you with plenty of discount offers, including those that require your personal information to receive those deals. Are you comfortable with sharing that information just to get a better deal? If so, you're in the majority – but barely.
The BestBlackFriday.com survey shows that just under half of Americans will not share personal information with stores, no matter how good of a deal the stores offer. Only 16.2% of Americans are trusting enough to share their personal information to get a deal for the holidays. The remaining one-third of consumers are on the fence – they are hesitant to share their information but a good enough discount can tempt them into signing up.
In the 2016 survey, 41.7% of consumers said they were willing to share personal information with stores in exchange for special holiday discounts. While the 2016 survey only offered yes or no responses (no "on the fence" category), the 2017 results suggests that Americans are becoming far more cautious about giving out their personal information.
In both the 2016 and 2017 surveys, younger Americans were more willing to take the risk and provide personal information. Of the 2016 survey, respondents in the 18-29 age range, 50% were not comfortable giving out personal information, as compared to 45.8% in the 2017 survey. Perhaps younger consumers are becoming more jaded and accepting of data breaches and exposure of personal information as inevitable – or maybe they are just in greater need of discounts at this point in life.
We probably can rule out an increase in trust among today's youth. Why should we expect trust in protection of personal information to do anything but drop, given the recent massive Equifax breach affecting nearly 146 million consumers, and the stunning admission that the Yahoo breach from 2013 affected every single customer account at the time – 3 billion accounts in all?
The more places your information is stored, the more likely it is to be breached – and, according to Adam Carroll, Founder and Chief Education Officer of National Financial Educators, "I think most Americans would be astonished to know how many places actually have their Social Security number and how many places actually have their credit account and checking account numbers."
How many places have you shopped at over your lifetime and supplied personal information without giving it a second thought? What about online purchases? Realistically, your personal information is available in more locations than you realize – and although it's reasonable not to give out your information to just any retailer that asks for it, you probably should focus more on preventative measures.
It's wise to assume your information is in constant jeopardy and guard it appropriately through continuous monitoring of accounts, limited exposure of personal information, and perhaps the use of credit freezes and identity theft prevention products. If you would like to prevent identity theft, check out our credit monitoring service. Consider this thought from Carroll, "When the FBI and CIA are hacked by Chinese hackers, what is safe at this point?"
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