So far in 2017, more than 172 million U.S. consumer records have been exposed. Given the active market for consumer records on the dark web, it’s a fair bet that at least some of those exposed records will end up as identity thefts that will cost a real person some money, some time and, most likely, both.
Results of a Gallup survey published Monday morning name having personal, credit card or financial information stolen by computer hackers as the biggest concern among U.S. adults. A full two-thirds name this at the top of their list of things they worry about, while 66% worry about being the victim of identity theft. Less than half as many (30%) worry about being a victim of a terrorist attack.
According to Gallup, anxiety about identity theft has topped the list of concerns by at least 19 percentage points. This year’s third-most worry is having a car stolen or broken into, with 38% of Americans frequently or occasionally worrying about this. That is a full 28 percentage points fewer than worrying about identity theft.
High-profile data breaches like the one involving some 142 million exposed records at credit reporting firm Equifax keep the issue near the top of peoples’ minds.
Another reason is that a quarter of Americans say that either they themselves or another household member has had information stolen by computer hackers, and 16% say they or another household member has been the victim of identity theft.
Of all criminal activity they experience, Americans are most concerned about cybercrime, and probably rightly so, given the high levels of reported rates of victimization. This worry is confirmed by other reports about cybercrime in the U.S. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported an average of 280,000 complaints a year from 2000-2016. Additionally, major data breaches over the past several years have affected hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world, contributing to the overall anxiety concerning cybercrime.
The full survey results and methodology are available at the Gallup website.