- Gallup has been measuring Americans’ fear of being victims of crimes for decades. There are about 10 crimes that have been updated every year for the last 9 years.
- Some of those 10 crimes are: being mugged, being a victim of a hate crime, being robbed, being assaulted by a co-worker, being a victim of terrorism, and being attacked while driving.
- Identity theft was added to the poll just this year.
- Gallup has noticed that the percentage of Americans that worry about being the victim of crimes hasn’t changed much over the last decade.
- In the past 47% of Americans has been the highest number that have ever worried about being a victim of a crime – having their car broken into. But when Identity theft was added to the poll a new record was made.
- 66% of people worry about being a victim of identity theft and only 15% of people never worry about ID theft – the lowest % of all the crimes.
- INSERT POLL RESULTS GRAPH
- While 66% of people worry about being a victim of ID theft, only 12% of households polled reported ID theft.
- 75% of households polled with income >$75,000 worry the most about ID theft.
- 54% of households polled with income <$30,000 worry the least about ID theft.
- However, ID thieves do not discriminate between the rich and the poor. 12% of households in both high and low income brackets report ID theft.
- INSERT GRAPH OF INCOME WITH INCOME LEVEL AND WORRY LEVEL
- on the other hand, only 46% of people worry about being robbed while 16% (the highest % of any crime reported in the poll) of households report being robbed.
- Why is it that the crime that is 3rd most reported crime in the poll is the one that most people worry about?
- Not only do most people worry about it by it surpasses all of the other crimes by almost 20%!!
- Here are a couple of theories: 1. There is money to be made in ID theft protection. 2. People think that most ID theft happens online and that is made easier with internet, wi-fi, social networks and smart phones. 3. Cleaning up after having your ID stolen is a long, expensive, painful process – according to Identity Theft Resource Center it takes 330 hours to repair ID theft damage. 4. People don’t know how to best protect themselves against the crime.
Bottom Line/Protection Tips
- More than half of Americans worry about ID theft even though there are not very many victims
- According to the poll more people are robbed more often than their ID is stolen, but people worry less.
- So, perhaps people worry about being robbed less because they take preventative measures, locking their house, alarms, etc.
- Take similar steps with your ID and you won’t have to worry so much! But first you should know that 90% of ID theft happens offline. Only 10% of ID theft happens on the internet!
- This means that you need to be vigilant in protecting your identity!
“At a time of year when packages are sitting on doorsteps and a mere address label or transaction record are enough to enable idenitity theft, consumers need to increase thier vigilance and take action to protect themselves,” said John Herr, CEO, EZShield.
- Don’t carry your SSN with you ever!
- Don’t use your SSN or DOB as passwords when dealing with businesses or call centers
- Be smart and aware of what you are doing on the internet.
- Don’t share all of your personal info with everyone on social networks. Only people that you know and trust should have access to your full birth date and address.
- Use unique passwords online and change them regularly. Also, don’t have them written down where people can see them.
- Keep your wallet and purse close to you and secure when you are out and about, don’t leave them sitting in plain view in your car!
- If it is feasible, place a freeze on your credit report.
- Check your credit report annually. You get one free every year from: annualcreditreport.com.
- Shred statements with account numbers, like bank, credit cards, instead of just throwing them away.
- For more on what you can do check out the Protection section of this site.