A study of Cermes Bocconi research center by Alessandro Arbore, SDA Professor of Marketing, Director of the Executive Master in Marketing & Sales and Francesca Valsesia SDA Assistant Professor of Marketing, shows that identity theft is not merely a matter of your wallet and is not confined to the internet. In fact, not only does most ID theft occur offline, it can also involve losses that are more hurtful than a little bit of money
What is the theft of identity? It is a much-discussed phenomenon in the digital world today: how secure is our personal information online? Is it prudent to make online purchases? The most widespread idea is that the web makes consumers more vulnerable of being expropriated of their sensitive data. The respondents to a recent research study on identity theft conducted by Bocconi CERMES research center on a representative sample of the Italian population age 30-60 think that sharing their personal data on the web can be the most probable reason for being victims of cybercrime.
But the same study shows that among the consumers whose credit or ATM card data have been stolen, only 15% report that this occurred online. Thus 85% of this kind of identity theft occurs offline. This is noteworthy because it makes us think about the actual risk of making a payment on the web (although, in Italy, offline transactions still dominate over online transactions).
The truth is that the whole system of online payments (banks, retailers, consumers) can only work and grow by minimizing the risk of fraud through continuous updating of its security systems. Making an online payment can be a lot more secure that handing your card to a shopkeeper. That’s in fact how 40% of those victims of fraud reported it happened.
So, are Italians worrying too much? It needs to be added that money gain is not the only objective of identity theft, and economic damage is not the only crime being committed. The Italian High Court recently convicted a man who had used the email address of a woman he knew to divulge sexual content online. This type of crimes is in fact rather common: our research shows that more than 5% of social network users was subjected to such crime, but only in one out of 5 cases those who were victims of this crime contacted the company managing the site in order to solve the problem. An even more worrisome fact is that 20% of people interviewed did not consider this an important enough matter to require action to be taken.
The legitimate suspicion that emerges from the study is that on the one hand Italians are very worried about online frauds, on the other hand they do not seem aware of the actual risks. In fact, only a third of social network users modify privacy settings to limit the sharing of personal data (source: Microsoft). But the above mentioned case of a woman whose name was fraudulently associated to pornographic content should teach Italians that cybercriminals could not only endanger their wallets, but something more precious: their reputations.