MCLEAN, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 30, 2006--Ninety-three percent
of Americans are well aware of the growing crime of identity theft.
Yet despite free access to credit reports and numerous educational
efforts, a new survey from leading financial services company Capital
One (NYSE:COF) and national advocacy group Consumer Action finds that
many consumers are still unaware of the financial damage that can
result from the crime and the steps to take if they fall victim. The
survey also suggests that older and younger generations are
Among the survey's key findings:
- Forty-four percent of consumers do not realize that their
personal information can be used to obtain a mortgage and 32
percent do not know that thieves can obtain a drivers license
or photo ID card with such information.
- Forty-one percent of older Americans (70+) do not realize that
identity thieves can obtain a drivers license or ID card with
their information, while 54 percent of younger Americans are
unaware of this risk.
- Thirty-two percent of Americans are putting themselves at risk
for identity theft simply by carrying their Social Security
Cards in their wallets or purses and 45 percent of those
polled incorrectly think that a new Social Security Number
(SSN) should be obtained if you are a victim.
"Identity theft and fraud are crimes that we can't simply ignore.
For victims, it can take a considerable amount of time and effort to
clear up credit records and repair the financial damage caused by the
crime," said Diana Don, director of financial education at Capital
One. "There are danger signs that we look out for as a financial
institution, but it's equally important that we help consumers
minimize their risk by arming them with the right information."
Because of the financial harm that can result from identity theft,
Capital One uses numerous security and assistance measures, such as
regular account monitoring, to ensure customers' information is
protected. In addition to those efforts, Capital One and Consumer
Action, through their national MoneyWi$e financial literacy
partnership, have developed a free, multilingual consumer guide called
ID Theft/Account Fraud Prevention and Clean Up, available at
"The MoneyWi$e guide on ID Theft/Account Fraud Prevention and
Clean Up offers practical guidance on the simple steps you can take to
help prevent identity theft, or, if you are a victim, to clear up the
problems created by the crime and lessen its impact on your life,"
said Ken McEldowney, executive director of Consumer Action.
Despite educational efforts, many consumers are still uninformed
about the crime.
Despite numerous educational efforts from the government, consumer
groups and the financial industry, the Capital One-Consumer Action
survey finds that consumers still do not realize the financial harm
that can result from identity theft. For example, 15 percent do not
realize that their personal information can be used to open lines of
credit for products such as credit cards, while 24 percent do not know
that identity thieves can use their information to apply for a job.
Consumers were equally unaware of the steps they should take if they
are victims of identity theft. Forty-five percent of Americans report
that a new SSN should be obtained while 35 percent report that a new
SSN is not necessary. The remaining 20 percent were unsure.
According to the MoneyWi$e guide on ID Theft Prevention and Clean
Up, a variety of personal information can be used to commit ID theft
and account fraud, including a person's name, SSN, birth date,
mother's maiden name, credit report, driver's license, and credit card
and bank account numbers. Although many victims of identity theft
believe a new SSN will solve their problems, this is usually not
possible since credit reporting bureaus may combine the records of
your old and new SSN. The Capital One-Consumer Action guide suggests
several core steps to help consumers' spot potential signs of ID theft
and account fraud:
Check your credit report. You can get one free copy of your
credit report annually from the three national credit
reporting bureaus. Go to the official Annual Credit Report
site (www.annualcreditreport.com) to get your free reports.
Review your reports for accounts you don't recognize or
information from companies you don't do business with.
Monitor your mail for missed bills, credit card statements and
other mail. A missing bill might mean that a crook has taken
over your account and changed your billing address.
Investigate mysterious purchases, charges, bills or collection
calls immediately. If you receive a credit card that you
didn't apply for or find a charge on your credit card bill
that you don't recognize, call the companies immediately to
address the problem.
Question credit offers. If you know you have good credit but
your application for a new credit card is denied, it could be
a sign of ID theft. When you are denied credit, you can get a
free copy of your credit report from the credit bureau used by
Some generations appear more vulnerable to crime.
Surprisingly, the Capital One-Consumer Action survey on identity
theft finds the youngest and oldest generations most vulnerable to the
crime. Both generations tend to carry their Social Security Cards (43
percent of 70+ Americans do this while 44 percent of younger Americans
ages 18-19 do), putting them at increased risk for the crime. The
survey also suggests that older Americans may not realize the negative
financial impact that can result from the crime - fifty-five percent
do not realize that identity thieves can use stolen information to buy
a home/obtain a mortgage.
Equally troubling is fact that younger Americans, ages 18-19, are
misinformed about ID theft, considering that the crime may disrupt
future attempts to obtain car loans, mortgages or apply for jobs.
Fifty-two percent of this age group do not realize that their personal
information can be used to rent an apartment and 75 percent do not
realize it can be used to buy a home/obtain a mortgage.
MoneyWi$e program arms consumers with financial tools and
Education is the key to a healthy financial future. To help
consumers protect against identity theft and improve their knowledge
on other financial topics, Capital One and Consumer Action created the
MoneyWi$e financial education program. MoneyWi$e combines free,
multilingual financial education materials on a variety of financial
topics with community training and seminars to give consumers at all
income levels the information and the practical assistance they need
to make smart financial choices. Consumers can obtain free brochures
by visiting www.money-wise.org.
For the joint Capital One-Consumer Action study, Braun Research
was engaged to conduct 1003 interviews with adults age 18 years of age
or older across the United States. Surveys were conducted by telephone
from August 29th through August 31st, 2006. The margin of error for
the research project is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Interviews were monitored and verified at random. Sampling for this
study was conducted using a national probability sample of all
exchanges and area codes known in the continental United States. All
interviews were conducted using a computer assisted telephone
interviewing system. Statistical weights were designed from United
States Census Bureau statistics.
About Capital One
Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One Financial
Corporation (http://www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding
company, with more than 342 locations in Texas and Louisiana. Its
principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank, Capital One, F.S.B., Capital
One Auto Finance, Inc., and Capital One, N.A., offer a broad spectrum
of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and
commercial clients. Capital One's subsidiaries collectively had $48.2
billion in deposits and $112.2 billion in managed loans outstanding as
of September 30, 2006. Capital One, a Fortune 500 company, trades on
the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in
the S&P 500 index.
About Consumer Action
Consumer Action is a national non-profit education and advocacy
organization founded in San Francisco in 1971. Consumer Action serves
consumers nationwide by advancing consumer rights, referring consumers
to complaint-handling agencies and publishing multilingual educational
materials. Consumer Action also advocates for consumers in the media
and before lawmakers and annually conducts comparison surveys for
consumers on credit cards, banking issues and telecommunications
CONTACT: Capital One Financial Corporation
Diana Don, 703-720-2371
SOURCE: Capital One Financial Corporation