Americans are nearly as likely to be victimized by an Internet-based crime as they are of other forms of nonviolent theft. At least that's the perceptions expressed by Americans when asked about crimes committed against themselves and their families.
Eleven percent of American adults report that they or a household member fell victim to a computer or Internet crime on their home computers in the past year, according to a Gallup Poll released Monday. By comparison, over the previous seven years, the percentage of Americans saying their were victimized by computer or Internet crimes ranged from between 6 percent and 8 percent..
Gallup says:
"At 11 percent, computer/Internet-based crime is edging closer in reported frequency to the most common traditional forms of crime involving nonviolent theft of personal property and vandalism. Further, the increase is an exception in the overall crime picture, in that Americans' victimization reports have been fairly steady over the past several years. Not only has the overall percentage of Americans experiencing any type of crime been fairly flat, but Americans' reports of specific crimes have been flat as well."
Indeed, Gallup says the increase in computer/Internet-based crime helped push up reporting on overall crime. In the past year, about one-third of all households reported at least one of the nine crimes Gallup measures, a slight bump from last year. Take out computer/Internet crimes, including identity theft, then only one-quarter of households were victimized by crime.


Having money or property stolen received the highest mentions, at 16 percent, followed by having a home, car or other property vandalized, at 14%. Gallup says the trend for these has been fairly stable in recent years.
The pollster says most victims are under age 55, with 18 to 34 year olds nearly twice as likely to report computer crime as they did a year earlier; 35 to 54 year olds also were more likely to report computer crimes this year than last year. The rate of reporting among those 55 and older remained about the same year to year. Says Gallup:
"Whether the increase in computer/Internet-based crime can be curbed by new methods to thwart it, or only expands along with Americans' use of the Internet, could have important implications for how positive the online experience is in the coming years, and how trusted it is by consumers."
Gallup conducted interviews between Oct. 7 and 10, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental United States. Gallup has a 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Have something to say about this article? Comment below or share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or our LinkedIn Group.