Study: Identity theft worries won’t damper holiday shopping

Even concerns about identity theft and fraud aren't enough to curb customers’ holiday shopping plans.

While 62% of consumers are very or moderately concerned about identify theft or fraud this holiday season, a large majority (73%) said concerns over recent data breaches won’t affect how they’ll go about their holiday shopping, according to “Discover’s 2017 Holiday Shopping Survey.”

When it comes to protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud, a large number of consumers are taking proactive steps. For example, 62% of consumers monitor financial statements for suspicious activity; 41% monitor their credit reports; 38% use a credit card with built-in security features, and 18% subscribe to an identity protection service. Only 9% 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% say they monitor their financial statements, and 45% use a credit card that has built-in security features. By comparison, 56% of millennials (ages 18 to 34) and 62% of generation X (ages 35 to 54) monitor their financial statements. Meanwhile, 32% of millennials and 37% of generation X use a credit card with built-in security features.

Credit cards are expected to be the most popular method of payment during the holidays, as about a third of survey respondents (32%) said they plan to use credit cards most often when making holiday purchases. That’s followed by 29% who said they’ll mostly use debit or prepaid cards, and 23% who plan to use cash most often. Just 5% expect to use gift cards most often, and only 2% expect to mostly write checks.

Of those who favor credit cards for most of their holiday shopping, 42% cite earning credit card rewards or points as the primary reason why. Other leading reasons to pay with a credit card include convenience, 28%; the ability to track spending (18%); and not having enough cash on hand (12%).

Most credit card holders (70%), indicate that they prefer to earn cash back rewards when using their credit cards for holiday purchases. This is compared to 14% who would rather earn travel rewards, such as airline miles or hotel points, the study said.