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Cybercrimes Remain Most Worrisome to Americans

Cybercrimes Remain Most Worrisome to Americans

Story Highlights

  • Of 13 crimes measured, Americans continue to worry most about cybercrimes
  • 71% worry about the hacking of personal data, 67% about identity theft

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The frequency with which Americans worry about becoming the victim of a variety of different crimes is similar to last year, as they remain much more likely to fear being victimized by cybercrimes than traditional crimes. Of the 13 crimes measured, only two garner majority-level concern from Americans -- 71% say they frequently or occasionally fear that computer hackers will access their personal, credit card or financial information and 67% worry this often about identity theft.

How often do you, yourself, worry about the following things -- frequently, occasionally, rarely or never?
% Frequently or occasionally
Oct. 2018 Historical average
% %
Having your personal, credit card or financial information stolen by computer hackers 71 69
Being the victim of identity theft 67 68
Your home being burglarized when you are not there 40 45
Having your car stolen or broken into 37 43
Having a school-aged child physically harmed attending school 32 32
Getting mugged 25 29
Being the victim of terrorism 24 34
Being a victim of a hate crime 22 18
Your home being burglarized when you are there 22 28
Being attacked while driving your car 22 22
Being sexually assaulted 20 20
Getting murdered 17 18
Being assaulted/killed by a co-worker/employee where you work 7 7
The date ranges for historical averages vary based on when each crime was measured. Not every question was asked every year from 2000 through 2018.

Gallup has gauged Americans' frequency of worry about a host of crimes annually since 2000, most recently Oct. 1-10. The rank order of the crimes most worrisome to Americans has been generally quite stable since 2009 when Gallup first included worry about identity theft on the list. Since then, identify theft has consistently outpaced anxiety about other non-cybercrimes, with an average 68% saying they "frequently" or "occasionally" worry that they will be victims of it.

When Gallup added computer hacking to the list of crimes last year, it joined identity theft atop the list of worries. As Americans have become increasingly reliant on digital data, the incidence of data breaches has also increased to the point that hundreds of millions of Americans have been affected one way or another. Facebook's announcement in September that the personal information of 50 million users was compromised is the latest in a long string of such breaches, including Yahoo's in 2013-2014 when hackers accessed one billion user accounts and Target's in 2013 that exposed credit and debit card numbers of shoppers in its stores. With more Americans impacted each year and media reports reflecting this, it is perhaps unsurprising that cybercrimes have rocketed to the top of the list of their worries.

Home Burglary Tops Traditional Crime Worries

Following distantly behind the two cybercrimes, 40% of Americans worry about their home being burglarized when they are not home, 37% about having their car stolen or broken into, 32% about having a school-aged child physically harmed at school, 25% about getting mugged and 24% about being the victim of terrorism.

Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults are worried about each of three crimes -- being a victim of a hate crime, having their homes burglarized while they are there and being attacked while driving their cars. And 20% are concerned about being sexually assaulted. At the bottom of the list, 17% worry about being murdered and 7% about being assaulted or killed while at work.

Two Crimes Spark Below Average Concern

Americans' anxiety about the crimes measured by Gallup have been generally stable over time, but two in particular diverged from their historical averages this year. The percentages worried about being the victim of terrorism and car theft are below the historical average for each.

There has not been a prominent international terrorist attack in the U.S. in recent months which could account for Americans' lower level of worry. Worry levels about having a car broken into or stolen have been trending lower recently, perhaps owed to technological advances that have made automobiles more difficult to break into or steal.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

View complete question responses and trends.

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