Identity theft is rampant, with an estimated $14.7 billion stolen from Americans last year alone. Nevertheless, we don't trust that the credit bureaus who hold all our personal data can protect our identities.
An exclusive MoneyTips survey reveals that we trust President Trump a lot more than the Equifax CEO or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with protecting our identity. Respondents also trusted the President's nemesis former FBI Director James Comey more than the heads of Equifax or Facebook. And whom do we trust the most to protect our identity? Oprah Winfrey!
Says Professor Steve Weisman, who teaches White Collar Crime at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, "It is not surprising that President Trump receives higher grades regarding protecting us from identity theft than the Equifax CEO and Mark Zuckerberg because both Equifax and Zuckerberg, at least until now, have shown little interest in protecting the identities of people having credit reports at Equifax and users of Facebook. However, it is interesting to note that President Trump has reduced the efforts of the previous administration in attempting to protect Americans from identity theft. In particular, James Comey had devoted tremendous attention to combating cybercrimes including identity theft."
In 2017, a massive Equifax credit bureau breach affected more than 147 million Americans. In a 2018 MoneyTips.com survey, we asked:
Even though her syndicated talk show has been off the air since 2011, Oprah Winfrey was the statistically significant winner among the weighted results of the Google survey that had a whopping 1,202 respondents. The popular billionaire received 37.5% of the total. President Donald Trump followed with 29.4%, with former FBI Director James Comey behind him with only 21.9%.
The good news for Equifax is that, surprisingly, their leader did not finish last. Among the people least trusted were Equifax CEO Mark Begor with 6.1%, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was at the bottom among the choices with only 5.1%.
Says Professor Weisman, author of Identity Theft Alert, "Unfortunately, these statistics may reflect the greater news coverage of the failings of Facebook to protect the privacy of its users. The truth is that the data breach suffered by Equifax poses a much more serious risk of identity theft for the rest of their lives for 148 million Americans."
To be fair, Mark Begor was not the CEO when Equifax's trouble began under then-CEO Richard Smith, who testified about it before Congress. Zuckerberg, too, testified to Congress in 2018 about privacy due to Facebook issues, while Comey testified about his dealings with Trump in 2017. (Oprah hasn't testified to Congress since 1991!)
We found that the respondents' gender played a role in whom they trusted the most.
As expected, Oprah was more popular with women than men. Women picked the Talk Show Queen over the President by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. 45.7% of the female respondents trusted Oprah the most, compared to only 23.9% who picked Trump. But among the men, our unique Commander-in-Chief was more trusted than Oprah! More than a third of the men (35.4%) picked the Donald, while only 28.6% of them picked the prospective celebrity candidate Trump may face in the 2020 Presidential election.
Notes Weisman, who looked at the MoneyTips data, "It is interesting to note the overall trustworthiness so much of the public has in Oprah Winfrey without much specific knowledge about what she may or may not know about identity theft while James Comey, who is known more for his recent battles with President Trump, has a long record of specific efforts to protect Americans from identity theft and other cybercrimes."
When we look at different age groups, Oprah beats Trump in the younger demographics, but the opposite is true for those 55 and up. Comey still takes third in every age group but is close to Trump among those 18-34. At every age, Zuckerberg and Begor battle it out for last place. Interestingly, it is the seniors 65 and up who trust the Equifax CEO the least.
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For more of our exclusive data and insights, visit MoneyTips Identity Protection Survey Findings.
Photo of Mark Zuckerberg ©Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States [CC BY 2.0]
Photo of Donald Trump ©Shealah Craighead [Public domain]