Every day it seems information security is ruling the headlines; Americans are (perhaps understandably) feeling insecure about the security of their financial information.  In fact, according to a new survey from Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA), a majority (77 percent) are anxious about their financial information and social security numbers being stolen or compromised. This fear runs so deep that consumers are less concerned about having their e-mail hacked (62 percent) or their home robbed (59 percent), but perhaps most shocking is that 55 percent would rather have naked pictures of themselves leaked online than have their financial information stolen.

While the good news is that Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their financial information, few may recognize the everyday habits that could be putting them at high risk.

  • Ninety-two percent of Americans feel they take precautions to protect their financial information, yet roughly half (46 percent) rarely or never change passwords for online financial accounts.
  • 44 percent use the same password for multiple online accounts, and more than a third (39 percent) have checked their financial data online on public networks.

However, consumers are ready to embrace new ways to pay. With the U.S. liability shift less than three months away, Americans want to feel empowered with new payment options.

  • A majority of consumers (69 percent) use chip cardsor plan to use them soon.
  • In addition, more than half (56 percent) currently use mobile digital payments via an app or website or plan to try it soon.

“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,” said Carolyn Balfany, SVP of U.S. Product Delivery – EMV, MasterCard. “In today’s digital age, we need the strong combination of what we all can do ourselves to keep our information as safe as possible and what we are doing at MasterCard to bring the latest innovations in safety and security to our cardholders.” Robert Siciliano, Identity Theft and Personal Security Expert added, “Today’s digital lifestyle means consumer concerns for online safety and security trumps physical security as a close second. It’s great that consumers have heightened awareness, but while they may understand personal responsibility they still want to feel protected by the institutions who are also responsible for protecting their data.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Americans are eager to take an active role in protecting their personal information. About half (48 percent) of consumers believe they are most responsible for protecting their own financial information from being stolen or comprised.
  • Americans believe there are more secure ways to pay today than ever before. A majority (83 percent) of consumers are excited about new secure technologies helping protect their financial information and 77 percent feel there are more secure ways to pay than ever before. Most people (88 percent) also trust that their payment network is arming them with secure technologies to protect them from fraud, and a majority (77 percent) feel that new technologies in the payment sector are having an overall positive impact on personal security.
  • New payment technologies are becoming part of Americans’ everyday vernacular. While some technologies are still growing in popularity, consumers already have some awareness of these new ways to pay. Three-quarters of Americans have heard of biometric payments and a majority (82 percent) have heard of contactless or tap-and-go payments.
  • The Millennial generation has the most confidence in a secure future ahead. While the survey does not show big swings in behavior and technology adoption by generation, Millennial Americans (45 percent) are least likely to believe that the risk of their financial information being stolen or compromised is going to increase in the next three years, compared to 58 percent of Gen-Xers and 61 percent of Baby Boomers.

“This survey really gets to the heart of consumers’ emotions around safety and security – and what we’ve uncovered is that while many Americans may be concerned, they’re also incredible resilient and optimistic about change ahead,” continued Balfany. “People of all generations 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.”

MasterCard offers cardholders layers of protection through a variety of services that can help assuage fears around feeling safe and secure, including:

  • Zero Liability – An automatic perk for cardholders, this service gives consumers peace of mind that the financial instuition that issued their MasterCard debit or credit card, will never hold him/her responsible for unauthorized transactions.
  • MasterCard ID Theft Protection – MasterCard is the only payment brand that provides its U.S. cardholders with services – at no additional cost – to help them detect and resolve identify theft.
  • Chip Cards – Chip cards, with embedded computer chips in the card face, are replacing traditional magnetic stripe cards in the U.S. Chips provide better protection because unique codes are generated with all purchases, making cards and transactions nearly impossible to counterfeit.
  • Mobile Payments – MasterCard built the foundation for secure digital transactions, so consumers can use their cards when, where and how they want. As more and more people adopt mobile and contactless payments, MasterCard will continue to lead the way in ensuring these transactions are simple, safe and secure. (Original Source)

Shares of Mastercard closed yesterday at $92.49 . MA has a 1-year high of $96.31 and a 1-year low of $69.64. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $93.48 and its 200-day moving average is $89.12.

On the ratings front, Mastercard has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on June 29, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Andrew Jeffrey reiterated a Buy rating on MA, with a price target of $120, which implies an upside of 29.7% from current levels. Separately, on June 1, Deutsche Bank’s Bryan Keane reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $100.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Andrew Jeffrey and Bryan Keane have a total average return of 4.4% and 12.6% respectively. Jeffrey has a success rate of 63.0% and is ranked #1185 out of 3694 analysts, while Keane has a success rate of 77.0% and is ranked #330.

The street is mostly Bullish on MA stock. Out of 7 analysts who cover the stock, 6 suggest a Buy rating and one recommends to Hold the stock. The 12-month average price target assigned to the stock is $98.67, which represents a potential upside of 6.7% from where the stock is currently trading.