Americans fear having their identities “stolen” by cybercrooks more than they do becoming victims of a terror attack, getting mugged or having their homes burglarized, according to a new survey released by Gallup, a polling firm.
Gallup’s survey, conducted between October 1st and 4th, was based on interviews with 1,013 national adults, aged 18 and older. Those surveyed overwhelmingly cited identity theft was cited as Americans’ top-ranked crime concern.
Fully two-thirds of those surveyed acknowledged worrying either frequently or occasionally while Another 18% of Americans rarely worry about it, while 15% , the lowest for any crime — say they never worry.
By contrast just under half of Americans worry frequently or occasionally about having their cars stolen or broken into (47%), as well as about having their homes burglarized when they are not there (46%). Roughly a third worry about being terrorism victims, having their homes burglarized when they are there, having their school-aged children physically harmed while attending school, and getting mugged.
Around 20% worry at least occasionally about being attacked while driving, being murdered, sexually assaulted, or being a hate-crime victim. Workplace violence places a distant last on the list, with 4% of all Americans saying this is something they worry about either frequently or occasionally. Even among employed Americans, therate of worry on this item is a low 6%.
Gallup trends show little change over the past year in how much Americans worry about any of the different types of crime.
One example is the trend on fear of being a victim of terrorism. The 35% currently saying they frequently or occasionally worry about this is statistically similar to the levels recorded in 2007 and 2008.
Men and women are about equally likely to say they worry about identity theft, but there are differences by income. Americans in households earning less than $30,000 per year are significantly less likely to say they worry frequently or occasionally about this crime than are those making higher amounts.
Americans report experiencing identity theft far less than they report worrying about it. Overall, 10% of all Americans say that they or another household member was the victim of identity theft in the past 12 months. This is slightly less than the 14% who say their household had a home, car, or other property vandalized, and the 16% who say money or property was stolen from their household. Fewer report that anyone in their household was the victim of a computer or an Internet crime (7%), had their apartment or home broken into (5%), or had a car stolen (3%). Even smaller percentages (1% to 2%) report having been victimized by various violent crimes.
Last week, as part of National Cyber-awareness month, the White House webcast a video in which President Barack Obama urged Americans to help guard against cyberattacks.
"Our digital networks are critical to our national security, our military superiority and public safety. But that dependence also makes us vulnerable to cyberattack from those who would do us harm," Obama warned.
Last May in announcing the formation of a new Executive department of cybersecurity, Obama called the threat of cyberattacks a central economic and national security challenges of the 21st century.
Although in the five months since announcing the new executive department Obama has offered few further details, the President said in the video that he will soon be appointing a cybersecurity director.