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One in Four Americans Have Experienced Cybercrime

One in Four Americans Have Experienced Cybercrime

Story Highlights

  • 23% of U.S. households were victimized by cybercrime in 2018
  • Little changed from 25% last year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are more likely to say a household member has had their personal, credit card or financial information stolen by computer hackers, than report being victimized by any of eight other forms of criminal activity. Nearly a quarter of Americans, 23% say that they or someone in their household fell victim to this type of cybercrime in 2018, little changed from 25% who reported being so targeted last year.

Nearly a Quarter of Americans Victims of Cybercrime in 2018
Please tell me which, if any, of these incidents have happened to you or your household within the last 12 months?
2017 2018
% %
You or another household member had personal, credit card or financial information stolen by computer hackers 25 23
You or another household member was the victim of identity theft 16 16
Money or property was stolen from you or another member of your household 12 14
A home, car, or property owned by you or another household member was vandalized 10 11
Your house or apartment was broken into 3 3
You or another household member was mugged or physically assaulted 2 2
Money or property was taken by force, with gun, knife, weapon or physical attack 1 1
You or another household member was sexually assaulted 2 1
A car owned by you or another household member was stolen 3 1

The most recent findings come from Gallup's annual crime survey, conducted Oct. 1-10. The survey includes questions asking respondents if they have fallen victim to nine different types of criminal activity within the past 12 months. Identity theft ranked second, with 16% mentioning it has happened to them or another household member.

Among the seven types of physical or property crimes measured in the poll, the most likely type of crime to affect Americans was property theft, with 14% reporting being victimized in this way. One other property crime had an impact on more than 10% of the public this past year, with 11% reporting vandalism of a home, vehicle or property. Meanwhile, the percentages experiencing a home break-in or auto theft are in the low single-digits.

Americans' reports of violent crimes remain low, with a net 4% saying they or someone in their household has been a victim of a violent offense. The most common violent crime experienced by the public is muggings or physical assaults, with 2% saying that has occurred to them or someone in their household in the past year. One percent report that they or a member of their household had money or property taken by force, the same number who reported sexual assault.

Overall Crime Victimization Remains Low

Gallup summarizes Americans' experiences with crime by computing the percentage who have been the victim of any crime in the past year. Because cybercrime and identity theft were only added recently and have been asked inconsistently, the summary measure is based on the seven physical or property crimes asked consistently since 2000.

Based on this computation, 24% of Americans have been victimized by one of these crimes in the past year. This percentage is broadly in line with what Gallup has measured over the past 18 years. This is up only slightly from the 22% who said the same last year. The latter tied the lowest in Gallup's 18-year trend, previously recorded in October 2001. The high point in terms of crime victimization occurred in 2016 when 29% of Americans reported that they or someone in their household were the victim of a crime. This coincided with a 15-year record high in concern about violence and crime, 53% of the public who said they worried a great deal about the issue.

Line Graph. The percentage of U.S. households victimized by crime has hovered between 22% and 29% since 2000.

Bottom Line

Gallup has previously found that Americans are more concerned about falling victim to cybercrime or identity theft than any other forms of criminal activity. Seventy-one percent of Americans worry about cybercrime and 67% about identity theft. The public's level of worry about these two types of crimes is substantially higher than worry about any other type of criminal activity and, based on their reported levels of victimization, is justified. This is confirmed by federal law enforcement reports, which indicate there were 2.7 million victims of identity theft and fraud in 2017 alone and 30% of U.S. consumers were affected by data breaches last year as well.

Alternatively, Americans' fears about violent crime are supported less by reported incidences of the offenses. Four percent of Americans say they or someone in their households have been the victim of a violent crime and only 1% of the public say they themselves have been the victim of this type of offense. While FBI statics concerning reported crime for 2018 will not be released until next year, the numbers for 2017 show violent crime remains rare in the U.S., with 392.9 incidents of violent crimes being reported per 100,000 residents in 2017 -- or roughly four of every 1,000 people.

View complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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