Consumer experiences with credit card fraud in the United States, both online and offline, appear to be leveling off, but Americans still believe credit card fraud is on the increase, according to results from a survey among 935 American adults conducted by Ipsos-Insight, the global market research firm and member of the Ipsos Group.

The Ipsos-Insight study compared results from two of the company’s credit card security studies, the first conducted in 2004 and the second in 2005. Results revealed an increase in the number of Americans who say they know someone who was a victim of online credit card fraud, up from 16 percent in 2004 to 20 percent in 2005.

Contrary to public perception, the actual number of victims is much smaller, with only 4 percent of Americans saying they personally fell victim to online credit card fraud, both in 2004 and 2005.

The story is the same with offline credit card fraud, with a reported 44 percent of Americans in 2005 and 38 percent in 2004 saying that they know some who has been a victim of fraud, but again only 12 percent from year to year say they have fallen victim themselves.

According to Doug Cottings, senior vice president of Ipsos Financial Services, “While people are hearing about credit card fraud from friends, the media, and marketers, the number of actual fraud victims has not increased. It seems the efforts that the industry and consumers are taking to prevent credit card fraud are taking effect.”

The data show that concern about credit card fraud offline has decreased significantly, from 76 percent in 2004 to 71 percent in 2005. Concern over online credit card fraud, however, has increased slightly, from 69 percent in 2004 to 72 percent in 2005.

“The larger percentage of women, relative to men, that are concerned about someone stealing their credit card information may be because more women know someone who has been a victim of fraud as a result of having their credit card stolen,” said Cottings.

In addition to differences in the level of concern by gender, the study also points out marked differences by education and household income level. Those with lower incomes and education levels have a much higher concern about being a victim of fraud than those with higher education and household income levels.

The 2005 study further reports that credit card security has no effect on 60 percent of credit card owners, who say that concern over identity theft has not affected their online purchasing behaviors.

“Consumers appear to be more aware and more comfortable that their credit card information will not be stolen if used at a store or online,” said Cottings. “But companies need to continue to communicate with their customers about their security programs to reinforce that it is safe to do business with them and customer information protection is a priority,” concluded Cottings.

To prevent credit fraud, Ipsos suggests consumers guard their personal information, never respond to e-mails requesting credit card information via e-mail, monitor accounts regularly and never give their Social Security number to anyone.

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