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Online banking use widespread, study finds

Yahoo study finds majority of adults are comfortable monitoring their finances over the Internet, while older people remain more cautious.

A majority of adults are comfortable monitoring their finances and paying bills over the Internet, while older people remain more cautious, according to a Yahoo-commissioned study released Thursday.

In an online survey of 2,687 people, 64 percent said they check their bank account balances primarily online and 56 percent said they use the Internet as their primary way to check their investment portfolios.

The percentage who said they pay their bills primarily over the Internet (43 percent) was the same as for those who said they pay bills through the mail. Half said they trade investments mostly online, while only 15 percent said they still make investment trades in person, the study found.

Meanwhile, identity theft worries have increased in response to recent high-profile security breaches. Two-thirds of single and married adults with dependent children said they were more concerned about online identity theft now than they were a few years ago, as did eight out of 10 retirees, or so-called empty nesters who have grown children, said Richard Kosinski, who works with Yahoo's advertisers in the financial services sector.

However, the increase in e-mail fraud and phishing--techniques used to get sensitive information by, for instance, luring people to fake Web sites and prompting them to type in their data--is not so worrisome that it is scaring people away, he said.

One in five single or married people with dependent children surveyed said such fraud has not caused them to avoid accessing their financial information online, while one in three retirees and empty nesters said the same.

"One of the key findings of the study is that the Internet is the leading medium for most financial activities," Kosinski said.

Another study released Thursday found confidence in online commerce slipping. Three out of four Web shoppers say they are more cautious about where they buy goods online, while one in three report buying fewer items than they would otherwise because of security concerns, market researcher Gartner said. The survey covered 5,000 consumers in the United States.

The Yahoo study was co-commissioned by OgilvyOne Worldwide and conducted by Forrester Research and Flamingo International. For the quantitative portion, Forrester sent out online surveys in April.