Identity theft, Viruses, Privacy and Spam are Top Worries
WASHINGTON, DC, September 29, 2008 – Internet consumers are growing increasingly concerned about online threats such as viruses, spam, and identity theft, according to a survey by the American Consumer Institute’s Center for Citizen Research (ACI). Consumers also report a considerable worry that their privacy might be compromised by programs that track and record which Internet sites they visit.
Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed (74 percent) said that they were “very concerned,” about identity theft, compared to 68 percent who reported great worry about identity theft in a similar ACI survey released two years ago in 2006. The number reporting they were very concerned about viruses rose from 61 percent in 2006 to 70 percent, and concern about spam climbed from 51 percent to 56 percent from two years ago.
The current survey of 648 households with Internet was conducted by telephone, included three new questions, compared to the survey of two years ago. The new questions show that privacy is a greater concern than spam, with 61 percent of those polled reporting “great concern” that their privacy is at risk because of online tracking programs. One half of those surveyed reported significant concerns about unwanted online advertisements, and 45 percent said they were greatly worried about spyware.
INTERNET USERS ARE “VERY CONCERNED” BY ONLINE ISSUES
2006 Survey 2008 Survey
Identity Theft 68 percent 74 percent
Viruses 61 percent 70 percent
Privacy/Retention not asked 61 percent
Spam 51 percent 56 percent
Unwanted Ads not asked 50 percent
Spyware not asked 45 percent
“The survey shows that consumers draw a distinction between threats that can cause serious problems and those that come under the heading of annoyances,” ACI president Steve Pociask says. “Identity theft and computer viruses can be extremely disruptive and it’s not surprising that they top consumer concerns. However, consumer concerns about privacy, online safety and the handing of personal information suggest that some online providers are not doing enough to tell consumers what information is being collected, how long it will be kept and how will it be used, or, for that matter, whether consumers can opt out of its collection altogether.”
The national survey has a confidence interval of plus or minus 3.8 percent.
The Institute is an independent educational and research institute. For the survey details and methodology, or for more information about the Institute, visit http://www.theamericanconsumer.org.