Most Americans hold retailers responsible for data breaches

March 19, 2014

Security software firm Feedzai has announced the results of its nationwide survey of U.S. adults, which found that 60 percent of those who knew about data breaches at notable retailers, such as Target and Neiman Marcus, hold the merchant responsible for preventing future incidents of a data breach. The "2014 Consumer Reaction to Financial Data Breaches Study" also found that 43 percent think nothing is more aggravating than having credit or debit card data stolen.

The study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Feedzai in January 2014 among 2,047 U.S. adults aged 18 and older.

"Fraud prevention is now a matter of predicting complex consumer behavior based on changing sentiments," said Dr. Pedro Bizarro, chief data scientist of Feedzai. "These findings show that consumers believe it is the merchant's responsibility, but really it is a collective problem that the industry needs to understand in order to distinguish customers from criminals and keep payment data safe."

Who's to blame?

Among U.S. adults who are aware of any data breaches, 60 percent believe merchants are responsible for preventing future incidents, while 13 percent believe responsibility falls on banks.

  • Only 5 percent of these adults feel it is the consumer's responsibility, and among males aged 18–34, this increases to 10 percent; and
  • 20 percent of females aged 18–34 believe the government bears the responsibility, while 13 percent of all those who are aware of any data breaches feel the government is most responsible.

Getting the flu > credit card stolen

It seems that many consumers find getting their credit or debit card stolen more aggravating than a number unpleasant events, and in fact, 43 percent of U.S. adults feel that nothing is more aggravating than theft. The survey also found:

  • 20 percent of Americans think losing their cell phone is more aggravating than card or debit card data theft; in the Northeast this figure drops to 15 percent, and it jumps to 30 percent among females aged 18–34;
  • 20 percent believe that getting the flu is more aggravating, which jumps to 25 percent for Americans aged 35–44;
  • 14 percent of Americans find being stuck in rush hour traffic more aggravating; and
  • 13 percent of Americans found going to the DMV more aggravating, while 12 percent said serving jury duty and 11 percent said preparing income tax returns was more aggravating than credit or debit card data theft

All eyes on data breaches — and merchants

Consumers took notice of the recent retailer breaches over the holiday season and fraud is top of mind.

  • While the recent data breaches took place in physical stores, more than half (52 percent) of U.S. adults who are aware of any data breaches still believe that shopping in a physical store is safer and more secure than shopping online when using debit or credit cards;
  • more than 1 in 5 (22 percent) who are aware of any data breach changed their shopping behavior due to recent retail data breaches. The highest proportion of those making a change in shopping behaviors came from those aware of data breaches in the Midwest, with 26 percent reporting changes, while the lowest proportion of those reporting changes came from those in the West with 19 percent reporting changes in shopping behavior due to recent data breaches; and
  • nearly 3 in 10 (28 percent) U.S. adults who are aware of any data breach have stopped shopping at the affected retailers. Among those aged 35–44, the proportion increases to nearly 4 in 10 (36 percent).

What’s old is new again: Cash is back

While memories of an older generation stuffing cold hard cash under mattresses and into envelopes may seem like a thing of the past … this may not be the case.

  • While 40 percent of those aware of any data breaches said they started using cash for more of their purchases when shopping, the proportions rose for those aged 18–34 (43 percent) and those aged 35–44 (45 percent); and
  • 32 percent of those who are aware of any data breaches aged 65 and older said they are using more cash.

A youthful outlook

Younger generations appear to expect the risk of using credit cards.

  • While more than half of those aware of data breaches (51 percent) believe that they are an expected part of the experience when shopping with credit or debit cards, there are sharp distinctions between age groups; and
  • almost 3 in 5 (58 percent) of those aged 13–34 who are aware of data breaches believe that breaches are part of the shopping experience, while only 38 percent of those aged 55–64 who are aware of data breaches believe this is true.          


Topics: Consumer Behavior , Payments , PCI Compliance , POS

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