Digital transactions come with a level of risk that varies based on the website you're dealing with. Major retailers generally offer a more secure experience, but some of the biggest have fallen victim to data hacks. This gives consumers reason to be concerned any time they're asked to hand over credit card information.

Essentially, you might get mugged even in a really good neighborhood, and that has the shopping public wanting more safety. In fact, 74% of consumers view security as the most important element of their online experience, according to Experian's Global Identity and Fraud Report

A man holds a computer mouse in one hand and a credit card in the other.

Be careful when you enter your credit card info online. Image source: Getty Images.

Consumers are willing to share

Nearly the same percentage of people (70%) who consider security their top concern are willing to share personal information with the companies they do business with online if it leads to more security and convenience. That's sort of a slippery slope, however, because the more you share, the more you're putting out there to be stolen or compromised.

"Security and convenience are the bedrocks of a dynamic digital marketplace that effectively manages risk and delivers a seamless experience," said Experian General Manager of Global Identity and Fraud Solutions Steve Pulley in a press release. "The availability of information consumers share with businesses makes this possible, but it's the same information that puts them at a greater risk for fraud, making trust more important than ever."

The survey of 10,000 consumers and 1,000 businesses found that both the shopping public and business leaders agreed that new technology will have to be implemented in order to win trust. That was backed up by consumer confidence actually growing from 43% to 74% when physical biometrics (like a fingerprint or retinal scan) were used to protect their accounts.

"Trust begins with a business's ability to deliver more from the information they already have and to use advanced technologies to identify their customers and provide a relevant experience without increasing their risk exposure," said Pulley. "In other words, consumers really can expect both -- security and convenience."

Some of the other security findings included the following:

  • 5% of businesses said fraud-related losses increased over the past 12 months, particularly account opening and account takeover attacks.
  • 60% of consumers are aware of the risks involved in providing their personal information to banks and retailers online.
  • 90% of consumers understand that businesses are collecting, storing, and using their personal information.
  • Nearly 90% of consumers said conducting personal banking is their top online activity.
  • "Passwords, PIN codes, and security questions remain the authentication methods most widely used by businesses, followed by document verification, physical biometrics, and CAPTCHA," according to the report. 

Consumers have to do their part

It's hard for a business -- even a very diligent one -- to protect your personal information if you don't. Actions like putting passwords on sticky notes stuck to a computer in a public place put your data at risk without requiring the thief to be any sort of technical genius. 

As a digital consumer, you must be as smart as possible. Follow the practices suggested as safest by each retailer, bank, or other providers you use. That may mean changing your password more frequently than you want to or using two-step authentication. While things may be a hassle, they're generally a lot easier than having to deal with a hacked account or replacing a compromised credit card.

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