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Associated Press photos
A woman walks near the entrance to a Target store in Watertown, Mass. A new survey reports that U.S. shoppers are aware and troubled by the prospect of security breaches, but have taken few measures to combat it.

Shoppers waving off breaches

Many conclude data theft is part of the digital age

– U.S. shoppers say they are very concerned about the safety of their personal information after a massive security breach at Target, but many aren’t taking steps to ensure their data are more secure, according to a new Associated Press-GfK Poll.

In the survey, nearly half of Americans say they are extremely concerned about their personal data when shopping in stores since the breach. Fifty-eight percent say they have deep worries when spending online, while 62 percent are very concerned when they buy on their mobile phones.

But only 37 percent have tried to use cash for purchases rather than pay with plastic in response to data thefts like the one at Target, and just 41 percent have checked their credit reports. Even fewer have changed their online passwords at retailers’ websites, requested new credit or debit card numbers from their bank or signed up for a credit monitoring service.

There have been worries that shoppers would dramatically change their habits since December, when Target announced the breach that could wind up being the largest in U.S. history. But security experts say the results show that Americans have come to expect that security theft is a possibility when they use their credit or debit cards or provide retailers with phone numbers, emails and other personal information.

“They … just chalk it up to … ‘It’s part of life,’ ” said Cameron Camp, security researcher at global security firm ESET.

Experts also say the results reveal another expectation Americans have: While nearly four of 10 say they have been victimized by personal data theft, most expect credit card companies, banks or retailers to take responsibility when that happens.

About 38 percent report that they think they have either had someone make unauthorized purchases using their credit or debit cards without it having been physically stolen or that someone had used their personal information to apply for a fraudulent line of credit, the poll says. And just over a third of Americans think their personal information was compromised in the breach at Target.

But the survey shows that just 37 percent say consumers bear most of the responsibility for keeping their data safe, while 88 percent place the burden on the retailers who are collecting it. Six in 10 say the banks that provide credit or debit cards or the credit bureaus should bear most of the burden.

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