With the spate of headlines on security breaches at big retailers like Target and Home Depot, consumers have been taking notice – and they’ll be more watchful about how and where they spend their money this holiday.

In a new report from FICO, a business analytics software company, researchers polled about 1,265 consumers from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., though only 112 respondents were from Canada.

What was most striking in that report was the level of concern respondents had about fraud, and allowing hackers to gain access to their debit and credit cards. Here in Canada, about 26 per cent of respondents said they were extremely concerned about fraudsters getting access to their debit and credit cards, while another 49.1 per cent said they were somewhat concerned. Just 18.8 per cent said they weren’t very concerned, while another 6.3 per cent said it wasn’t a concern at all.

Part of those worries seemed to stem from the recent news of credit card breaches at major retailers. About 24.1 per cent of Canadian consumers said thanks to the news, they were very concerned about their cards’ security, while 57.1 per cent said they were slightly concerned. Still, 18.8 per cent of respondents said they weren’t concerned at all, showing there are still those out there who don’t feel their debit and credit cards are at risk.

What was also interesting was that consumers didn’t seem as concerned about losing money, as they were about other aspects of credit and debit card fraud. Just 26.1 per cent of respondents said they were worried about a “significant out-of-pocket cost,” thanks to someone stealing their debit or credit card information, which paled compared to the 59.5 per cent who were worried about having to spend a lot of time resolving issues with fraud. Another 25.2 per cent were concerned about the impact fraud would have on their credit scores, while 23.4 per cent said they felt there wouldn’t be any big impact on them.

“The steady drumbeat of news about massive security breakdowns has eroded public confidence in institutional data security,” said Anant Nambiar, FICO’s general manager for fraud and protection, in a statement. “Consumers clearly have an appetite for stronger payment card security, and they are eager to work with their card issuers to protect themselves.”

Given the stakes, it appears Canadian consumers are indeed thinking of ways to keep their debit and credit card data safe. According to the FICO survey, 49.5 per cent of respondents said they’d use a program that would automatically notify them about specific kinds of transactions.

Another 50.5 per cent said they’d be interested in a program that would send emails or texts if it noticed suspicious transactions on their cards, while 36.9 per cent went even further, saying they wanted a program that would control where their cards could be used, what kinds of purchases they could make, and the amounts that could be charged. And when it came to fraud monitoring, about 44.1 per cent of respondents said they wished it was a service their banks provided.

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