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- 47% of consumers felt uncomfortable about providing details over the phone to a call centre representative

- more women worry about having their identity stolen than men

Maidenhead, 15th April 2008 - Over half of the men and women surveyed for a new Australian based study fear their identity could be stolen when they are asked to give their details to an organisation over the phone.

According to the VeCommerce Identity Verification Study conducted by Sydney-based, 52% of respondents believed answering a personal details or history question when confirming their identity over the phone meant their details were vulnerable to theft.

Over half of these respondents (54%) gave these ratings because they believed their personal information could be stolen or technology could be hacked.

Online surveys were completed by 216 Australians for the study which aimed to understand the public’s usage of and attitude towards processes used by organisations to verify identity. Participants were asked to indicate whether they agreed, disagreed or had no opinion about statements relating to identity theft, sharing personal information and the use of technologies. They were also asked to rate different methods of identity confirmation as vulnerable to theft or secure.

Meanwhile, more women worry about having their identity stolen than men, are generally extra cautious about divulging personal details, and would pay more for proactive personal identification security.

Seventy five percent of women surveyed in the study are concerned about fraud and identity theft. Over the past couple of years, 69% have also been more careful about sharing personal information and 44% would be willing to pay more for a product or service to a company that is very proactive in securing their personal information.

By comparison, just over half (51%) of men surveyed agreed that identity theft was a concern, 47% took more care when passing personal information to a third party and only 29% would pay more for a more proactive security product or service.

Only 17% of women agreed that the more technology an organisation uses, the more they feel their personal information is secure, compared to 26% for men.

Dr. Catriona Wallace, Managing Director, stated: “The most interesting result of this study was the degree to which Australian women are concerned with current identity verification processes. It is imperative for organisations to improve how they verify the identity of customers in order for the Australian consumer, particularly women, to feel totally secure when doing business with them.”

Over half (51%) of respondents believed that using an SMS confirmation to confirm their identity was quite vulnerable, very vulnerable or totally vulnerable to theft. Many respondents believed that someone else may have access to a computer or mobile phone (41%) or their information could be stolen or a computer hacked (31%) when they send an SMS message.

The survey also found that 45% of respondents believed that providing a password over the phone meant their details were totally vulnerable, very vulnerable or quite vulnerable to theft, followed by a PIN number (39%).

In contrast, 23% of respondents rated an SMS confirmation when confirming their identity over the phone as a very secure or totally secure method of personal identification. This was followed by a customer service representative asking to confirm a recent transaction (22%), a recent interaction (12%) and a PIN number (17%).

“The survey results provide an interesting insight into concerns about revealing personal information, which highlights the need for all organisations to have appropriate security measures in place,” said Paul Magee, Managing Director, VeCommerce.

“The fact that people feel their details are not secure is certainly not helping to improve the customer experience. It’s also an issue that seems to be at top of mind for Australian women of all ages.”

VeCommerce is planning a similar survey for the UK later this year.

Preferred identification methods

Biometric voice identification technology was the preferred personal identification process, with 42% of respondents ranking it as their first choice. Passwords and PINs were also popular with 41% and 33% of respondents ranking these methods as their second choice, respectively.

Younger people prefer more high-tech methods of identification. By age group, 41% of respondents between 18 to 30 years of age (Generation Y) selected biometric voice identification as their preferred method.

In addition, 30% of Generation Y respondents selected passwords as their preferred identification. This was significantly higher than respondents in the 31 to 45 years of age (15%) and 46+ years of age (13%) brackets.

A mere 5% of Generation Y respondents ranked a personal details or history question as their preferred personal identification process.

Almost half (47%) of respondents preferred organisations to use a fairly complex process with fairly high security for identification while 17% preferred a very complex process with very high security. Only 2% of respondents wanted a simple or fairly simple process.

By gender, 22% of women prefer a very complex process of identification with very high security, compared to 12% of men.

“It’s not surprising to see that a high number of people have faith in biometric voice identification which indicates that there is a real market for this technology now and in the future,” said Magee.

“Overall, most people would prefer organisations use reasonably complex processes to ensure that their identities are at the lowest risk of being stolen.”

About VeCommerce

VeCommerce assists organisations deliver exceptional customer interactions. This is achieved through a detailed analysis of existing customer processes and the development and provision of applications that utilise speech recognition, voice biometrics and other related interaction technologies.

VeCommerce has developed voice self-service solutions since 1998 and today is one of the most experienced and successful application developers and systems integrators in the industry focusing on automated and scalable voice enabled caller identification and verification (ID&V) solutions.

The company’s focus on research and development and provision of best-of-breed business solutions delivery has rewarded the organisation with a number of industry innovations, including: the first project to develop an Australia/New Zealand phonetic language model, the world's first natural language wagering solution launched commercially, and the first voice self-service real-time credit card bill payment system.

Customers include AAPT, Australian Health Management, Ladbrokes, BOC Gases, Pizza Hut, Standard Life, Suncorp, St George Bank, Dublin Airport, TABCorp, TelstraClear and the Inland Revenue Department (New Zealand). The company has offices in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and US.

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