Majority Say Internet Has Become Less Safe

With nearly half of Americans reporting they have been tricked or defrauded, citizens are concerned that the internet is becoming less safe and want tougher federal and state laws to combat online criminals, according to a new Digital Citizens Alliance survey released today.

In the survey of 1,215 Americans, 46 percent said they had been the victim of a scam or fraud, had credit card information stolen, or had someone steal their identity. One in three Americans reported suffering financial loss – with 10 percent reporting that the loss had been over $1,000.

Just as troubling, a majority of Americans (52 percent) reported that they felt the internet was less safe than it was five years ago. Only 12 percent said that the internet was more safe. Against the backdrop of these concerns, an overwhelming number of Americans (71 percent) want tougher federal and state laws.

“We’ve reached a point where Americans are bracing for what comes next – a stolen credit card, a breach of sensitive information, or criminal scam,” said Tom Galvin, Executive Director of the Digital Citizens Alliance, a consumer-focused group that raises awareness about the pitfalls and dangers online. “It’s a bad sign when Americans think the internet is becoming less safe, so it’s vital that governmental entities such as the Federal Trade Commission and others ensure that crime does not pay.”

The Digital Citizens online survey presents a troubling round-up of how Americans are under siege:

  • 69 percent of Americans reported finding malware or other computer viruses on their computers. In recent months, DCA has exposed how criminals are using content theft websites to lure consumers so they can expose them to malware, which can lead to financial loss, identity theft, ransomware and a host of other risks.
  • One in five Americans reported that they have purchased something online, but never received it nor got a refund of their money. DCA reporting has shown how younger Americans in particular are at risk because they are more apt to shop on less credible websites offering deals.
  • 42 percent of Americans report that they had their credit card information stolen and used. In 2014, a DCA report showed how thieves were selling credit card information after the Target breach of financial information.
  • One in five Americans reported that either their computer or their company’s computer systems have been hacked at some time.
  • 71 percent of Americans report “I feel like I have to be on guard.” One in six said they feel they need to be “constantly on guard that someone is trying to harm me.”

“Americans want their leaders – whether they work in government or at the tech companies that bring us technology – to step up and combat this epidemic of online crime and risk,” said Galvin. “Americans deserve to feel safe whether they are shopping in a mall or on Amazon. They shouldn’t have to worry about someone stealing their credit card information, whether it’s at a restaurant or on Etsy.”

Vrge Analytics conducted the online survey, posting the questions on SurveyMonkey. Between 7/27-7/29, 1,215 Americans responded. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. Click here to see the full survey at the DCA website, digitalcitizensalliance.org.

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