Is Identity Theft Scarier than Terrorism?

If you took an informal poll among your friends or co-workers, it wouldn’t take long to find out what they fear. There are common “general” fears, like snakes, spiders, and even clowns, but there are also specific fears like being struck by lightning or attacked by a shark at the beach.

Interestingly, people have a tendency to fear the wrong things; a lot of people are afraid of flying but don’t give a second thought to the fact that they are exponentially more likely to die while driving to the airport than in the plane itself. Those sharks at the beach? About thirteen people each year are injured in a shark attack, while 43,000 Americans per year are injured by their own toilets.

A new study from FICO looked at consumer safety concerns, though, and shows that Americans are becoming savvier to some of the types of crime that are likely to affect them. For example, the survey report found that twice as many US consumers are afraid of identity theft and bank fraud than terrorism, which is interesting because one of those topics certainly commands more headline news air time than the others.

“The analytics software provider commissioned an online survey of a representative sample of a thousand US adults in February and March of this year. It found that 44 percent of respondents listed identity theft and banking fraud as their top concern, while only 22 percent listed the prospective deaths of themselves or loved ones, and 18 percent cited being the victim of a terrorist attack.”

These findings are certainly a positive step forward for the reality of identity theft, fraud, and cybercrime awareness. It shows just how much consumers are moving away from the “it won’t happen to me” mentality that has plagued citizens in the past, and the seriousness with which they view this possibility especially considering their were 15.4 million victims in 2016, up 5.3 percent over 2015 figures from Javelin.

It also helps explain another recent finding, which is that more and more US consumers are clamoring for better cybersecurity measures, including biometric scans for accessing sensitive accounts. The tech industry has already been at work on tools that would allow individuals to log into sensitive accounts such as online banking or shopping platforms via biometric indicators like fingerprints, even from their own homes or devices.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: A Fish Tank Was Almost the End of an Entire Casino

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