Americans are nearly as likely to be victimized by Internet-based crime as by other forms of nonviolent theft. This perception emerges from a recent survey on crimes committed against individuals and their families.

According to a Gallup Poll released Monday, 11% of American adults reported that they or a household member were victims of a computer or Internet crime on their home computers in the past year. This marks an increase from the previous seven years, where the percentage ranged between 6% and 8%.

Gallup notes:
"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."

The rise in computer/Internet-based crime has contributed to an increase in overall crime reporting. About one-third of all households reported experiencing at least one of the nine crimes Gallup measures in the past year, a slight increase from the previous year. Excluding computer/Internet crimes, including identity theft, only one-quarter of households reported being victims of crime.

The most frequently reported crime was having money or property stolen, mentioned by 16% of respondents, followed by vandalism of a home, car, or other property, reported by 14%. These trends have remained relatively stable in recent years.

The poll indicates that most victims are under age 55. Notably, 18 to 34-year-olds were nearly twice as likely to report computer crimes compared to the previous year. Similarly, 35 to 54-year-olds reported an increase in computer crimes. However, the reporting rate among those aged 55 and older remained consistent year to year. Gallup adds:
"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 October 7 and 10 with a random sample of 1,025 adults aged 18 and older living in the continental United States. The poll has a 95% confidence level with a maximum margin of sampling error of ±4 percentage points.

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