WASHINGTON – Credit-card hacking is the number one crime on Americans’ worry list, far above getting mugged or murdered, according to a Gallup survey released Monday.
As the number of major retailers reporting cyber breaches grows, with thieves stealing credit card data belonging to tens of millions of their customers, awareness of the hacking threat has taken off.
“Americans today are more worried about their credit card information being hacked from stores than about any other crimes they are asked about, and a relatively high percentage say they have been victims of this hacking,” Gallup said.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they frequently or occasionally worry about computer hackers stealing the credit-card information they have used at stores.
The only other crime that worries the majority of Americans — 62 percent — is hacking and data theft of a computer or smartphone.
The next most-worrying crime, at 45 percent, was a home burglarized when no one was home, while 42 percent fretted about having their car stolen or broken into.
Tied at 31 percent were the number of people worrying about having a school-aged child physically harmed while attending school and about getting mugged.
Lesser concerns were worry about being the victim of terrorism (28 percent), getting murdered (18 percent) and, at the bottom of the list, being assaulted or killed by a coworker on the job (7.0 percent).
Gallup said that 27 percent of Americans said they or another household member had information from a credit card used at a store stolen by computer hackers during the past year, the most frequently experienced crime on a list of nine crimes.
Similarly, 11 percent of respondents said they or someone else in their household have had their computer or smartphone hacked in the last year, putting that in the top half of crimes on the list.
High-profile hacking at big retail chains, such as discounter Target and home improvement giant Home Depot, is clearly shaking consumer confidence, Gallup said.
“It may affect their shopping habits as they take measures to protect their identities and finances. Consumers may avoid stores that have been hacked, and begin paying more frequently with cash or prepaid cards to protect their identities.”