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Sponsored by Experian’s Data Breach Resolution unit, a Ponemon Institute survey, “The Aftermath of a Mega Data Breach: Consumer Sentiment,” says nothing damages a brand more than a data breach. That includes poor customer service like waiting an hour on the phone for tech support only to find tech support asking you how to fix the problem. And environmental disasters like oil rigs exploding and birds coated with oil. Okay, the stuff about knowing more than tech support and oil rigs exploding are only used here as illustrations. If they happened in the real world, we would’ve heard about them, right?
The survey asked over 700 consumers about their attitudes toward a company’s brand and willingness to purchase its product or service if certain events occurred. In addition to data breaches, poor service and environmental disasters, the survey tested attitudes toward lawsuits, government fines and labor or union disputes. The bottom line: nothing beat data breaches for scuffing the shine off a company’s “rep.”
In his article on darkreading.com, Tim Wilson, the ezine’s editor-in-chief highlighted major findings in the study:
Breaches also have a major impact on customer fears about identity theft, the survey says. Prior to having their personal information lost or stolen, 24 percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft. Following the data breach, this concern increased to 45 percent, Ponemon says. Almost half of respondents feel their identity is at risk for years or forever.
Many of the respondents were affected by a retail (35 percent), credit card (35 percent), or social media (19 percent) breach in the last two years. A majority of respondents feel the personal information that would cause the most stress or financial loss if exposed or stolen would be a Social Security number (78 percent of respondents), followed by an account password/personal identification number (71 percent).
Yet despite being notified about a breach affecting their information, many consumers have not taken action, the survey says. A majority of respondents felt stress as a result of being affected by a data breach (76 percent), but this did not lead to action: more than 50 percent did not take any steps to protect themselves from identity theft afterwards.
“This inaction may be a result of data breach ‘fatigue,’ as 30 percent of those surveyed received at least two data breach notifications and 15 percent received three in the last two years, while 10 percent received more than five,” Ponemon reports. “Unfortunately, more than one-third of consumers ignored the data breach notification from the company and did nothing. However, almost 30 percent of consumers accepted the offer of free identity protection services.”