Online Security Fears Larger than Actual Risk, Survey Finds

In the wake of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on online advertising and privacy, Mintel has released survey data revealing Americans are more concerned than they were 5 years ago about online security.

  • 65% are more concerned than they were 5 years ago
  • 28% are significantly more concerned than they were five years ago

But the actual risk is declining. The number of American identity thefts declined 12% from 2003 to 2006 (10.1 million to 8.9 million), according to US Justice Department data. Of the 8.9 million cases in 2006, only 8.3% of them were related to online activity, such as computer viruses, hackers or phishing. Mintel reports that less than 1% of emails they tracked were phishing scams.

“The actual risk of having your identity stolen online is not as high as many people think,” states Menke. “Financial services companies are trying to reassure consumers of this fact, but our research suggests their marketing messages aren’t sticking. Companies need to find innovative new ways to convince Americans that their identities are secure online and when using email.”

Financial service companies already have a solid base to work from to achieve that goal. 71% of American adults report managing at least one financial services account online. The average American manages 3 financial services via email and the web.

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