More than two in five (44%) customers are more concerned about fraud while online shopping during the holiday season than at other times of year, according to the latest annual survey from leading provider of seamless and secure digital experiences, Ping Identity.

Online customers are taking active steps to protect their personal information and steering clear of brands and businesses they perceive to be unsafe. 18% said they paid with gift cards; 45% only shopped at reputable stores with which they were already familiar; and 36% were on the look-out for suspicious phishing links.

“In recent years, Australians have embraced online shopping wholeheartedly and it’s responsible for a steadily increasing proportion of the total consumer spend. But, following a series of high-profile data leaks, consumers have become alert to the risk of identity theft, and it has them worried,” Ping Identity vice president of sales for APAC and Japan, Ashley Diffey said.

“They want to continue to enjoy the convenience of shopping online, particularly over the holiday season, but they also want assurance that the information they share with retailers is safe. To retain their confidence and trust, retailers need to create easy, secure and personalised buying experiences that alleviate security concerns, without collecting too much personal data.”

Underlining the importance of robust identity verification measures while shopping online, 41 % of customers said they would feel more protected against fraud if businesses offered biometric authentication, 50% felt more secure when Multi-factor Authentication was deployed and 50% said one-time log-in codes via text or email would increase their comfort level.

The prospect of bad actors using artificial intelligence (AI) to impersonate them online has them worried. In fact, 53% are concerned about the possible use of AI technology to create impersonations. Additionally, 53% say the use of MFA makes them feel better about a business because it suggests that protecting their data is a priority.

Just over half (52%) were comfortable sharing a range of personal information, including their gender, age, phone number and date of birth with retailers but only 9% of consumers have full trust in the organisations that manage their identity data.

“Many Australians have learnt the hard way that the personal information they share with businesses can be compromised. This Christmas, we can expect to see consumers exercising much more caution around their online purchasing choices,” Diffey added.

“To allay their concerns, Australian brands and businesses should emphasise that they are adhering to the Australian Privacy Principles and take steps to allow customers to limit their personal information sharing. Retailers that fail to demonstrate their commitment to protecting consumers’ personal information may find it harder to attract the holiday dollar.”