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Servicemembers’ concerns about data privacy and security

This summer we surveyed 737 active servicemembers, veterans, retirees, and military family members on their online shopping behaviors, with the help of our friends at Military Discounts Central and Army Wives 101.

We discovered that 98% of military respondents are not comfortable disclosing their social security number in order to get a military discount. SheerID’s survey also shows that 66% of military affiliated consumers would not agree to have the information they provided shared with partner sites.

Comparing our data to a survey performed by the Identity Theft Resource Center in January of this year, it appears that military personnel and family members are more careful with their private information than the average online shopper. While 14% of civilian shoppers would give out their Social Security number, only 2% of military respondents would give a retailer their SS#. Similarly, although nearly half of servicemembers and military family members polled will provide retailers with their birthdays, they are 26% less likely to give out that information than other online shoppers.

It’s no wonder that military personnel are cautious about sharing their personally identifiable information. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s 2015 report, service members experience identity theft twice as often as the average consumer. I’d be extra careful too!

So what can military families do to prevent identity theft?

  • Create strong passwords for each of your accounts that use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Place an “active duty alert” on your credit card report when you are deployed and aren’t planning on applying for new credit
  • Don’t respond to email, text, or phone requests for your personally identifiable information. Be very careful about providing any sensitive information like your Social Security number online.

And what can retailers do to improve confidence within the military community and protect their data?

  • Limit the amount of information you require to redeem a military discount. Only ask for what you need, and don’t ask for extremely sensitive information like financial records or Social Security numbers. Any data that is collected needs to be hashed or encrypted to encode and safeguard it.
  • Create transparent privacy policies and FAQ’s that are easy to understand.
  • Be honest about how the information that military shoppers provide is going to be used. As part of the checkout process, are they being opted in to a mailing list, joining a third party community, or permitting their data to be shared with partner sites?

For more ideas on how to create campaigns that resonate with the military community, give us a call!

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