Despite concerns about identity theft and fraud, consumers don’t plan to curb their holiday shopping. An independent survey commissioned by Discover found that while 62 percent of consumers are very or moderately concerned about identify theft or fraud this holiday season, a large majority, 73 percent, say concerns over recent data breaches won’t affect how they’ll go about their holiday shopping. Discover has commissioned its annual holiday shopping survey since 2004.
“The safety and security of consumers’ personal information is always top of mind, especially during the holidays when spending tends to ramp up,” said Laks Vasudevan, Discover’s vice president of products and innovation. “We look out for our cardmembers by offering a wide range of built-in credit card security features for free, including our recently launched Social Security number and new account alerts1. Our new alerts help our cardmembers protect their identities beyond their Discover account. Once a cardmember activates their new alerts, we’ll monitor thousands of risky websites and alert them if their Social Security number is found, or if any new accounts are opened on their Experian® credit report.”
Consumers Are Taking Proactive Steps to Safeguard their Identities
When it comes to protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud, a large number of consumers are taking proactive steps. According to the survey, 62 percent of consumers say they monitor financial statements for suspicious activity, 41 percent monitor their credit reports, 38 percent use a credit card with built-in security features and 18 percent subscribe to an identity protection service. Only 9 percent report not doing anything to guard against identity theft or fraud.
Baby boomers (ages 55 and over) are the most diligent when it comes to protecting their identities, as 69 percent say they monitor their financial statements and 45 percent use a credit card that has built-in security features. By comparison, 56 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) and 62 percent of generation X (ages 35 to 54) monitor their financial statements, and 32 percent of millennials and 37 percent of generation X use a credit card with built-in security features.
Credit Is King while Holiday Shopping
Credit cards are expected to be the most popular method of payment during the holidays, as about a third of survey respondents, 32 percent, say they plan to use credit cards most often when making holiday purchases. That’s followed by 29 percent who will mostly use debit or prepaid cards and 23 percent who will mostly use cash. Just 5 percent expect to use gift cards most often, and only 2 percent will mostly write checks.
Of those who favor credit cards for most of their holiday shopping, 42 percent cite earning credit card rewards or points as the primary reason why. Other leading reasons to pay with a credit card include convenience, 28 percent; the ability to track spending, 18 percent; and not having enough cash on hand, 12 percent.
Most credit card holders, 70 percent, indicate that they prefer to earn cash back rewards when using their credit cards for holiday purchases, compared to 14 percent who would rather earn travel rewards, such as airline miles or hotel points.
“The holidays can be expensive, which is why we make it as simple as possible for Discover cardmembers to earn and redeem rewards,” said Maureen Powers, Discover’s vice president of rewards. “Cardmembers can offset some of their holiday expenses by redeeming their cash back rewards in a variety of ways, including for gift cards from top merchants or as a statement credit to their Discover card account.”