The Online Fraud Report, sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), found that while 87 per cent of consumers polled said they were confident of recognising fraudulent emails, 61 per cent failed to identify a legitimate email.
Most respondents categorised all emails in the study as fake, even though one of them was legitimate.
The study also presented images of sample websites and asked consumers to identify whether a site was secure or not. Some 67 per cent could not identify a secure website.
Six out of 10 respondents relied on symbols, such as 'padlocks', to determine whether a site was secure, while four in 10 believed that there was no real way to determine whether a site was secure.
According to the report, roughly eight in 10 Americans who use the internet conduct online financial transactions such as banking, stock transactions and filing taxes.
Two-thirds of consumers who conduct online financial transactions report being 'extremely concerned' or 'very concerned' about giving their personal or financial information to a fake website and having hackers steal financial information from their computer.
"We are making progress, as consumers are more aware than ever of a range of online threats. However, it is clear that the sense of confidence many feel in their ability to identify online scams is misplaced and overstated," said Ron Teixeira, executive director of the NCSA.
"As people continue to conduct more of their activities and transactions online, fraudsters will continue to present sophisticated scams.
"This study reinforces the necessity for consumers to educate themselves regularly about safe online practices in order to stay ahead of the next threat. "
Sanjay Gupta, e-commerce executive at Bank of America, added: "Online security is a shared responsibility among legitimate businesses and consumers."
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