Published Study: U.S. Adult Consumer Attitudes and Money Concerns

Below appears the executive summary for the Credit Report study, conducted by Harris Poll® via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus from March 11-13, 2014. You will find overall key findings followed by the detailed findings per question afterwards.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Lexington Law from March 11-13, 2014 among 2,037 U.S. adult adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Key Findings

Survey results show that just over one third of U.S. adults are being kept up at night worrying about money issues.  The most common concern is medical bills (e.g., not being able to pay, paying late) which keep up one in ten adults.  Worrying about student loans, identity theft, and money trouble from divorce also keep U.S. adults up at night. While each of these worries impact different people, overall, being kept up at night with money worries most often impacts adults under age 65 and those with household incomes less than $50K.

86% of U.S. adults have ever checked their credit report, and those ages 35+ are more likely to do so than younger adults.  Also, those with a household income less than $50K are least likely to check their credit report.  It is interesting that the groups being kept up at night worrying about money issues, are also the least likely to have checked their credit report.

Nearly one third say they there is something that would deter them from checking their credit report.  Of those who would be deterred, a majority say it would be because it is too much hassle or they are too busy.  One in four is afraid of what they will see and another quarter doesn’t know how to check.

10% of U.S. adults believe there could be mistakes on their credit report, although 7% do not think they can do anything to repair their credit score.

There are not a lot of significant gender differences among men and women facing these credit/money issues; however it is clear that women are more likely to have lost sleep over money issues.  Men, on the other hand, are twice as likely to say they broke up from a relationship due to their irresponsible financial/spending habits or were turned down from a job due to their credit score.

Which would be more embarrassing – not being able to retire because of credit issues or having your credit card declined in a public setting?  Nearly two thirds of U.S. adults say it would be more embarrassing to have their credit card declined in a public setting than to not be able to retire because of credit issues!

Detailed Findings – Money Issues That Keep You Up At Night

 

Money Issues Keep You Up At Night (Net): 36%

Question: Which of the following money issues, if any, keep you up at night? Please select all that apply. Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

About two thirds of U.S. adults (64%) say there aren’t any money issues that keep them up at night, while the other third (36%) say they are kept up at night because of money issues.

More than one in ten U.S. adults (12%) is kept up at night worrying about medical bills.

  • Those with household incomes less than $75k (15%) are more likely to be kept up at night worrying about medical bills than those with household incomes of over $100k (6%).
  • Younger adults age 18-64 (14%) are more likely to be kept up at night worrying about medical bills than adults age 65+ (5%).

9% of U.S. adults are kept up at night worrying about student loans.   

  • Not surprisingly, younger adults age 18-34 (20%) are the most likely to be kept up at night worrying about student loans, compared to adults age 35-44 (13%) and adults age 45+ (2%).
  • Also not surprisingly, those with household incomes less than $50k (13%) are more likely to be kept up worrying about student loans than those with household incomes of over $100k (5%).

7% of U.S. adults say identity theft keeps them up at night.

  • Adults age 35-44 (14%) are more likely to be kept up at night worrying about identity theft compared to those age 18-34 (7%), age 45-54 (9%) or age 55+ (4%).

Worrying about money trouble from divorce keeps 3% of U.S. adults up at night.

  • Younger adults age 18-44 (4%) are more likely to be kept up at night worrying about money trouble from divorce than those age 55+ (1%).

14% say they are kept up at night because of other money issues.

Detailed Findings – Last Time You Checked Credit Report

Question: When was the last time you checked your credit report? Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

The majority of U.S. adults (86%) have checked their credit report.

  • Adults age 35+ (93%) are much more likely to have checked their credit report than younger adults age 18-34 (71%).
  • Those with household incomes of $50K-$74.9K (89%), $75K-$99.9K (95%) and $100K+ (90%), are more likely to have checked their credit report than those with a household income of less than $50K (82%).

More than half of U.S. adults (54%) have checked their credit report in the past year.                                                   

  • Adults with household incomes of $75K+ (60%) are more likely to have checked their credit report in the past year than those with HHI of less than $50K (49%).
  • Adults age 45+ (57%) are more likely to have checked their credit report in the past year than those age 18-34 (47%).

One in five (20%) say it has been over a year since they last checked their credit report.

  • Adults age 35-64 (25%) say it has been more than a year since they checked their credit report; they are more likely than both those age 18-34 (13%) and age 65+ (15%) to say it has been this long.

13% can’t remember when the last time they checked their credit report was.

14% of U.S. adults have never checked their credit report.

  • Adults age 18-34 (29%) are more than four times as likely than those age 35+ (7%) to have never checked their credit report.
  • Those with a HHI of less than $50K (18%) are more likely to have never checked their credit report than those with a HHI of $50K-$74.9K (11%), $75K-$99.9K (5%) or $100K+ (10%).

Detailed Findings – Experiences Related To Money Concerns

Question: Which of the following, if any, have you ever experienced? Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) have experienced lost sleep over a money issue (e.g., not being able to pay bills).

  • Women (25%) are more likely to have lost sleep over a money issue than men (20%).
  • Adults age 18-64 (26%) are more likely to have lost sleep over this than older adults age 65+ (9%).
  • Those with HHI of less than $50K (29%) and $50K-$74.9K (24%) are more likely to say this than those with higher household incomes (vs. 16% with HHI of $100K+).

16% of U.S. adults have experienced not qualifying for a loan or line of credit because of their credit score.

  • Those with a HHI of less than $100K (20%) are more than twice as likely to say they have not qualified for a loan or line of credit because of their credit score than those with a household income of $100K+ (8%).
  • Adults age 35-44 (24%) are more likely to say this than those age 45-54 (15%) or age 55+ (10%).

15% of U.S. adults have felt their credit was holding them back from what they wanted to do (e.g., buying a car, moving).

  • Adults with a HHI of less than $75K (19%) are more likely to say they have felt their credit was holding them back than those with higher household incomes of $100K+ (11%).
  • Adults age 35-44 (24%) are more likely to say they have felt their credit was holding them back than 14% of those age 45-64, and both are more likely than 6% of those age 65+ to say this.

15% of U.S. adults say they have not picked up a phone call because they were afraid it was a creditor or collector.

  • Adults ages 35-44 (24%) are more likely to say they have not picked up a phone call for fear it was a creditor or collector than those ages 45-64 (13%), and both are more likely than those ages 65+ (8%) to say this.
  • Those with a household income of less than $50K (21%) are almost twice as likely to say this as those with a household income over $75K (11%).

14% of U.S. adults have experienced worry about their credit (e.g., that there were inaccuracies in their credit report).

  • Younger adults age 18-44 (21%) are more than twice as likely as older adults (9% of adults age 45+) to have experienced worry about their credit.

3% say they had broken up from a relationship due to their irresponsible financial/spending habits.

  • Men (4%) are twice as likely to say this as women (2%).
  • Younger adults age 18-34 (5%) say this more than older adults 45+ (1%).

3% also say they have been turned down for a job because of their credit score.

  • Men (4%) are also twice as likely to say they have been turned down for a job because of their credit score as women (2%).
  • Younger adults age 18-44 (7%) are more likely to say this than adults 65+ (1%).

Detailed Findings – Particular Financial/Money Concerns

Question: Which of the following statements, if any, are true for you? Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

Overall, 13% of U.S. adults say there are times they don’t want to open a bill because they are afraid they cannot pay it.

  • Only 3% of adults age 65+ say this, compared to 18% of those age 18-34 and 13% of those age 44-64.
  • Those with a household income of less than $50K (19%) and those with a HHI between $50K-$99.9K (13%) say there are times they don’t want to open a bill for fear they cannot pay it, compared to only 5% of those with a household income of $100K+.

One in ten (10%) say believe there could be mistakes on their credit report which would affect their credit score.

7% don’t think there is nothing they can do to repair their credit score.

  • Those age 35-44 (10%) are more likely to think this than those age 65+ (4%).
  • Those with a household income of less than $75K (15%) are more likely to say they think there is nothing they can do to repair their credit score than those with higher household incomes of $75K or more (6%).

Detailed Findings – Deterrents for Checking Credit Report

Overall, 68% of U.S. adults say there isn’t anything that would deter them from checking their credit report.

32% of U.S. adults say there is something that would deter them from checking their credit report.

Question: Which of the following, if any, would deter you from checking your credit report? Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

Two in five (42%) of adults who would be deterred would be deterred because it’s too much hassle.

  • Those with a HHI of $100K or more (53%) are more likely to say they would be deterred by too much hassle than those with a HHI less than $50K (37%).

29% of adults who would be deterred say it would be because they are too busy to deal with it.

  • Younger adults ages 18-34 (37%), 35-44 (28%) and 45-54 (32%) are more likely to say they would be too busy to deal with checking their credit report than those ages 55+ (14%).
  • Those with a HHI of $100K or more (47%) are more likely to say they would be too busy than those with a HHI less than $50K (25%) and those with a HHI of $75K-$99.9K (17%).

One quarter (25%) of those who would be deterred say it would be because they are afraid of what they will see.

  • Adults age 35-44 (43%) are nearly twice as likely to say they are afraid of what they will see than both younger adults age 18-34 (23%) and older adults ages 45+ (21%).

One quarter (25%) of adults who would be deterred say it would be because they don’t know how to.

  • Interestingly, twice as many adults age 45+ (24%) and three times as many adults age 18-34 (32%) say they don’t know how to, compared to just 10% in the 35-44 age group.

16% of adults would be deterred from checking their credit report by something else.

Detailed Findings – More Embarrassing

Question: If you had to choose, which one of the following would be more embarrassing to you? Base= U.S. Adults (n=2,037)

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults (63%) say they would be more embarrassed to have their credit card declined in a public setting than to not be able to retire on time because of credit issues.

Having Credit Card Declined in Public Setting Is More Embarrassing

  • More than eight in ten adults age 65+ (82%) would be more embarrassed to have their credit card declined in a public setting than not being able to retire because of credit issues, compared to only 59% of adults age 18-64 who feel the same.
  • Those with a HHI of less than $100K (66%) say they would find it more embarrassing to have their credit card declined in a public setting than not be able to retire because of credit issues, compared to those with a HHI of $100K or more (53%) who say the same.

Not Being Able To Retire Because of Credit Issues Is More Embarrassing

  • Four in ten younger adults ages 18-64 (41%) say would find it more embarrassing not to be able to retire because of credit issues than having their credit card declined in a public setting, compared to 18% of adults age 65+.
  • 47% of those with a HHI of $100K+ are more likely to be more embarrassed by not being able to retire because of credit issues than having their credit card declined in a public setting, compared to 34% of those with a HHI of less than $100K.