Consumers putting themselves at risk with unsafe online habits

AARP study shows nearly half use a single password for multiple sites

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


While security experts say virtually everyone has been the victim of at least one data breach at this point, new survey data from AARP show that Americans are unnecessarily putting themselves at greater risk by failing to adopt smart digital safety practices.

For instance, the AARP Fraud Watch Network recommends that consumers establish online access to all of their bank and credit card accounts. Yet the survey found that only about 4 in 10 American adults (43 percent) have done so with all of their bank accounts, and only 57 percent have set up access for all credit cards.

Re-using a password is another way to jeopardize your digital security, but nearly half of the survey’s respondents (48 percent) said they use a single password for two or more sites.

See related: Credit card losses from synthetic identity fraud jump

Perhaps most surprising was that although 47 percent of adults said they had experienced a fraudulent purchase on a credit or debit card, a paltry 14 percent said they had taken the step of requesting a credit report freeze.

With so many Americans reporting risky behaviors – and so few reporting smart security practices – it’s not surprising that a whopping 73 percent failed a “digital identity IQ” quiz, answering half or fewer of the 10 questions correctly.

AARP conducted its survey in July 2018 with the GfK Group, sampling a nationally representative group of approximately 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older. AARP released the findings Sep. 5.

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Updated: 03-23-2019