SOURCE: TransUnion

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September 30, 2015 10:00 ET

Cyber Slackers: Millennials Lax With Cyber Security

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - September 30, 2015) - Millennials are the least likely generation to actively protect their data, despite being the most concerned with their cyber security, according to a TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) survey released today in honor of National Cyber Security Awareness month this October.

Roughly half (49 percent) of all Millennials, people ages 18-34, say they are extremely or very concerned about cybercrime, but most are not taking action to safeguard their personal information. According to the data, 86 percent of Millennials store bank account information on their phones and 84 percent check financial accounts while connected to public Wi-Fi -- actions that put them at risk of identity theft.

In contrast, only a third (36 percent) of Baby Boomers (people 55 to 70) report being concerned about identity theft, but at least half take basic precautions to protect themselves. Just half of Boomer respondents said they store important information on mobile devices and only 54 percent check financial accounts while connected to public Wi-Fi.

"Cybercriminals don't care about your age; they just want access to your identity and credit," said Ken Chaplin, Senior Vice President at TransUnion. "It is important for people of all ages to be aware of the behaviors that make them vulnerable to identity theft and to not sacrifice security for convenience."

According to the survey, most respondents lacked a clear understanding of how certain behaviors put them at risk for fraud. Nearly two-thirds (67 percent) of Millennials reported not locking their devices with passwords. Surprisingly, Boomers are much more likely to take extra precautions, such as using firewall protections (83 percent compared to 63 percent of Millennials), shredding documents before disposing of them (75 percent compared to 53 percent of Millennials), and removing a hard drive before disposing of a computer (60 percent compared to 44 percent of Millennials).

Additionally, despite the prevalence of cyber security threats in today's society, consumers generally underestimate their risk of identity theft compared to other dangerous, but less probable events.

For example, Millennials are about equally afraid of being in a plane crash (51 percent) as they are of having their identity stolen, even though they are exponentially more likely to face the latter -- the chance of experiencing a plane crash is 1 in 54 million1, while 19 people experience identity theft every minute2.

"The staggering rate of identity theft is an unfortunate reality and requires constant vigilance to safeguard personal and finance information," said Chaplin. "Regardless of age, all credit-active consumers should use a credit monitoring tool, like TransUnion's, to mitigate identity theft risks. Credit monitoring allows you to quickly assess your credit report for any suspicious activity that could be tied to identity theft."

TransUnion, a leader in identity theft and protection, offers a few simple tips to better protect against cyber theft:

  • Activate password protection on your phone. Cyber criminals can install applications on stolen phones that give them access to the device's personal information, like photos, personal calls and banking applications. Set a unique password on your phone to create a barrier that makes it difficult for anyone to access the information.
  • Approach near field communication (NFC) applications with caution. Criminals have traded spam and antivirus hacking methods in favor of third-party applications. NFC applications, which allow data to be transferred between two local devices such as through tap-to-pay methods at checkouts, and other third-party payment applications should be approached with caution.
  • Avoid accessing sensitive information on public Wi-Fi networks. Businesses that offer public Wi-Fi are required to share a liability notice, but many may not read it. By using Wi-Fi sniffing, when criminals intercept information while it travels from the access point to the device, your personal data can be at risk.

For more information on protecting your credit health, go to: https://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-education.page

About TransUnion (NYSE: TRU)
Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

We call this Information for Good. http://www.transunion.com

1The Economist, "A Crash Course in Probability," 1/29/15. http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/01/air-safety
2TransUnion, "Identity Theft Facts," https://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/identity-theft-and-fraud/identity-theft-facts.page

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