This is a stickup! Your money or your WiFi password!

A purse-snatching? Upsetting.

A first-degree murder? Unthinkable.

A hacker stealing my credit-card information? Truly horrifying!

In a shocking if timely bit of news from the digital front lines of our shared online world, a new poll reveals that what Americans fear most nowadays is not good old-fashioned assaults and batteries, but having their personal data ripped off by virtual bad guys.

According to the new Gallup survey published this week, 69 percent of U.S. residents fret  “frequently” or “occasionally” about hackers making off with their credit card information from stores.

Maybe the fears aren’t that surprising, given that Target, Neiman Marcus and Home Depot are among retailers that have recently experienced massive breaches, as laid out in a Huffington Post blog post.

It’s big in the news. And since so many of us spend half our lives in places like Target anyway, it’s also looming large our internal world of worries.

The second most-feared crime in America, according to the survey, is having a phone or computer hacked to steal personal information. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they worried at least “occasionally” about it.

The two hacking crimes are far more worrying than home burglaries, car break-ins or muggings, according to the poll. That may be because so many people’s information has been hacked, Gallup said.

Gallup said 27 percent of Americans said they or a member of their household had their credit card information stolen from a store. Last year, Target experienced the second-largest hack in history when criminals stole information from about 40 million debit and credit cards.

The Huff Post shared this cool graphic, which seems to suggest that people really are more terrified of having their MasterCard account compromised than actually being murdered. Which is pretty scary in itself.


Here are the top crimes that have Americans “occasionally” or “frequently” worried, according to Gallup’s new poll:

As the blog post points out, “since the Target breach, a string of other retailers have been hacked, exposing the financial information of tens of millions of U.S. consumers. Some of the cyber-crime is suspected to come from Eastern Europe and Russia. Such large-scale security lapses, especially during the holiday season, affect the economy in numerous ways. Customers steer clear of companies that have been hacked, for example, such as Neiman Marcus or Home Depot. And consumers may be less likely to use debit cards and credit cards in the future, opting to spend cash instead, Gallup said.”

The new statistics are part of Gallup’s latest annual crime poll, which the company conducted by calling more than 1,000 Americans from all 50 states on Oct. 12 to Oct. 15. All respondents were over the age of 18.

Credit: MCT archives




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