Poll: 11% Victimized by Cybercrime

While crime on the streets may be down, a Gallup poll finds increasing numbers of Americans saying they’ve been victims of crime in cyberspace.

In a report released last week, based on polling fielded in October, 11 percent of respondents said they or someone else in their household “was the victim of a computer or Internet-based crime, such as fraud or computer hacking, while using your home computer” during the past 12 months. That’s up from 7 percent saying the same in 2009 and from 8 percent in five years of such polls from 2004 through 2008.

While crime in general is down from its highs in the 1990s, there’s still plenty of it. Thirty-three percent of respondents said they or someone in their household was the victim of some sort of crime in the past year. The figure dropped modestly, to 26 percent, when Internet crime was excluded. Still, just 4 percent said a household member was the victim of a “violent crime.” Respondents were more likely to have been victims of ordinary theft (16 percent) or vandalism (14 percent).

When people are asked about crime in general (and not about their personal circumstances), polls nearly always find them saying there’s more of it this year than last year. Gallup’s current survey is no exception, with 66 percent of respondents saying crime in the U.S. is up this year vs. 2009. Closer to home, 49 percent said there’s more crime “in your area” this year than last year.

Thirteen percent said crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the area where they live, even as 60 percent said it’s that big a problem for the U.S. in general.