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Northwest residents say they can recognize ID theft but think their peers aren't as scam-savvy

March 8, 2021 by PEMCO Insurance

​Can you spot a scam? According to a new poll from PEMCO Mutual Insurance, most Northwest residents say that they're good at sniffing out a scheme that would compromise their personal information. But when asked to grade their peers' ability to spot potential fraud, many say others don't have what it takes.  

According to the latest PEMCO poll, 80% of residents in the Seattle and Portland metro-areas believe that they're at least "good" or even "excellent" at identifying a scam – where bad actors attempt to con people for their personal information or money – before any fraud can take place.

However, when asked to rate their peers on the same scale, significantly fewer residents say that other people they know do a good job identifying scams. Just 50% in the Seattle metro area and only 47% of residents in the Portland metro area say that others are at least good at spotting and stopping a scam. In contrast, residents are more than twice as likely to say that their peers do just a "fair" or "poor" job spotting a scam, compared to themselves (47% vs. 18%).

"While residents are quick to criticize their peers, our poll shows that we do tend to agree on the fact that identity theft is a concern," said PEMCO spokesperson Derek Wing. "A majority of Northwesterners reported they're at least somewhat concerned that their identity could be stolen, which is a sentiment that has held steady over time. And with cybersecurity breaches and reports of compromised data regularly in the news, it's important to be vigilant when it comes to protecting our personal information."

Case in point: The PEMCO poll found that 40% of residents have had their personal or financial data compromised in a security or other type of fraudulent attack. What's more, about one in five of Northwest residents (19%) say they've had their identity stolen, either by someone attempting to open a credit card in their name, accessing their bank account, or taking other similar fraudulent action.  

Most agree on the negative impact of ID theft, but there is debate among Northwest residents regarding who is ultimately responsible for keeping personal information safe. Parents, or those with children in their homes, are almost twice as likely to say it's individuals' personal responsibility to protect their information, rather than holding organizations accountable.

Other Northwesterners feel it isn't primarily their responsibility, but put the onus on companies and organizations that store their personal or financial information. Seattle and Portland residents 55 years and older are more likely than those 35 and younger to believe it's primarily the responsibility of anyone who takes or stores their personal or financial information to keep it safe from predators (51% in Seattle; 49% in Portland).

Regardless, there are several common-sense steps everyone can make to keep their information safe:

  • Don't carry your Social Security card or birth certificate with you.
  • Don't carry password information with you or use your date of birth as a password.
  • Shred pre-approved credit applications and other financial documents before discarding them.
  • Never share personal information online or over the phone unless you initiated the contact.
  • Don't talk with your bank or credit card company in public.
  • Don't download files sent by strangers or click on hyperlinks from unknown sources.
  • Make sure you carefully check your bank statement every month.
  • Utilize services that your insurance company offers to help protect your personal information—like PEMCO ID Smart, which is a service provided to all PEMCO policyholders.

For a complete summary of PEMCO's proprietary poll results visit, where you'll find responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in February 2021.


About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Mutual Insurance commissioned this independent survey, conducted by FBK Research of Seattle, that asked Washington and Oregon residents questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 400 respondents in the Seattle Metro (King, Snohomish, Pierce Counties) region and 400 respondents in the Portland Metro (Multnomah, Marion, Clackamas, Washington Counties) region yields an accuracy of +/- 5.0% respectively at the 95% confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than the associated error range. 

About PEMCO Mutual Insurance

PEMCO Mutual Insurance is the Defender of Your Northwest, providing auto, home, renters and boat coverage. We are consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee expertise and social impact. Our Mutual Good programs raise the achievement levels for youth in education; build stronger, greener environments; and increase safety at home, on the road and at play. Our mission: Free our communities to worry less and live more.

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