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Card hacking tops list of crime concerns

Sienna Kossman

Violent crimes don’t worry consumers nearly as much as credit card data theft.

In fact, the majority of consumers are more afraid of falling victim to a retail data breach than getting burglarized, mugged or even murdered, according to a new Gallup survey.

Sixty-nine percent of 1,017 U.S. adults surveyed by Gallup say they frequently or occasionally worry that the credit card information they’ve shopped with will be stolen by data hackers. The only other crime that concerns more than half (62 percent) of adults is a smartphone or computer hack resulting in stolen information by an unauthorized person.

Credit card hacking tops list of consumer crime concerns

Gallup has polled American’s about crime concerns annually since 2000, but this is the first year credit card information theft and digital hacking crimes were included in the poll.

And with approximately one in four Americans reporting to Gallup that they or another household member had their credit card information stolen in a store data breach in the past year, the new poll question came at a good time. Such a ratio makes credit card data theft the most frequently experienced crime on the Gallup poll list, which also includes burglary, assault, school violence and murder.

Age seems to play role in how much consumers fear data theft. According to Gallup, adults between the ages of 30 and 64 worry more about credit card and data hacking crimes than younger and older consumers.

Additionally, the higher a consumer’s annual income, the greater the fear of stolen payment and digital data. Eighty-five percent of adults with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more worry about credit card information theft and 76 percent worry about computer/smartphone hacking.

Gallup attributes the high rate of concern amongst the wealthy to their higher amounts of daily spending based on Gallup’s consumer spending data. Less affluent individuals may also not be as financially connected to electronics or have as many credit cards as their wealthier counterparts, which could also reduce their odds of being affected by hacking.

However, regardless of who worries more and why, increasing fears about payment information breaches like the ones that hit major retailers in the past two years have shaken consumer confidence and may even be prompting changes to shopping behavior.

In a CreditCards.com poll conducted earlier this month, 45 percent of cardholder respondents said that over the holiday shopping season they will likely avoid stores that have experienced a data breach. Forty-eight percent are more likely to pay with cash to avoid credit card information theft issues all together.

Consumers looking for information security peace of mind may get some with the rollout of EMV chips, which attempt to protect consumer data through encryption, and Apple Pay which also limits information sharing. 

The search for solutions to the ongoing data breach problem may be in full swing with some remedies falling into place, but consumers are still wary, as both the CreditCards.com and Gallup polls show.

With the holiday shopping season just weeks away and the list of breach-struck retailers continuing to grow, it will be interesting to see how consumers’ increasing fears of data theft play a role in end-of-the year spending.

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