Survey: More Americans Are Losing Personal Info to Digital Thieves

The threat of leaking data feels more and more pressing.

Photo from Shutterstock.

With the Target hacks still a recent memory and Heartbleed potentially affecting two-thirds of the Internet, you may be feeling like your personal data is increasingly exposed. The good news is that that’s not just paranoia whispering in your ear: A Pew survey shows an increase in the number of adults who say that their personal data has been stolen online.

The phone survey of 1,002 Americans, chosen as a “nationally representative sample,” compared how many people had had personal data like their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information stolen in January 2014 vs. July 2013. It found that overall, 18 percent of adults who use the Internet have had information stolen compared. Last July, that number was 11 percent. In both January 2014 and July 2013, 21 percent said that they had had a social media account or email account compromised.

Pew divides survey respondents into four age groups (19-29, 30-49, 50-64, and 65+), and every age group reported more personal data theft versus the 2013 group. Pew reports that the sampling error for all the data is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, so it’s possible that some of the margins are slimmer than they seem. But, even if the maximum margin of error applied, there would still be a small total increase.

It’s a time of crisis—and all you can do is keep your will strong and your passwords stronger.