07/11/2015 10:34 EDT | Updated 07/11/2015 10:59 EDT

Majority Would Rather Have Naked Pics Leaked Than Financial Info, MasterCard Survey Finds


We live in a society where you don’t talk about your personal finances in polite company. Or even impolite company. We just don’t talk about money.

We do, on the other hand, talk about sex, and with greater frequency and openness in this age of online sex toy stores and naked selfies.

So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a solid majority of respondents in a recent U.S. survey for MasterCard said they would rather see nude photos of themselves leaked online than their financial information.

Fifty-five per cent of respondents preferred naked photos to exposed bank accounts, the survey carried out by Braun Research found. Among the kids today, that trend is more pronounced. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of millennials said they’d rather be exposed physically than financially.

The survey suggests that’s because of an abiding fear of financial fraud, given some recent high-profile incidents such as the leaking of credit card data at Target and, most recently, the theft of 21 million Americans' social security numbers.

“Americans are (perhaps understandably) feeling insecure about the security of their financial information,” MasterCard said in a statement.

“This fear runs so deep that consumers are less concerned about having their e-mail hacked (62 per cent) or their home robbed (59 per cent).”

But for all the concern, the survey found consumers are still engaging in “everyday habits that could be putting them at high risk.” Though 92 per cent said they take steps to protect their financial info, 46 per cent admitted to rarely or never changing their online passwords.

More than a third (39 per cent) said they check their financial info on public wi-fi networks and 44 per cent said they use the same password across multiple accounts -- all considered to be high-risk behaviours.

“Our survey reveals there’s a sharp contrast between what people say or think they are doing to protect their information and what they actually do, but that’s understandable – we’re human,” MasterCard senior VP of U.S. product delivery Carolyn Balfany said in a statement.

All the same, people “want to take ownership of their financial information, they’re becoming more security conscious, and they’re actively embracing new technologies and services that will help keep them safe,” Balfany added.

But there may be another reason why people would rather see naked photos of themselves online than their credit card statements: After years of struggling to bounce back from the Great Recession, many people may just not be that confident in their finances.

With the U.S. taking more than six years to recover the jobs lost in the Great Recession, there may be good reason why people are less embarrassed about the size of their junk than the size of their bank accounts.