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Report: Americans More Worried About Fraud Than Personal Safety

Financial fraud fears eclipse national security worries in Unisys' latest security poll

Three-fourths of Americans believe the global financial crisis increases their risk of identity theft or related crimes, according to Unisys' latest Security Index report.

Financial worries, which jumped about 12 percent from Unisys' previous poll in September 2008, topped national security fears for the first time since the company launched its biannual report of consumers' security concerns in 2007. The company randomly polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults for its latest study, which was conducted in late February.

"With financial [worries], what you really have is people concerned about identity theft and credit card fraud," says Tim Kelleher, vice president and general manager of managed security services at Unisys. More than one-fourth of Americans said their risk of suffering financial fraud has increased "significantly" due to the global economic crisis.

"It's a dramatic change," Kelleher says.

The latest Unisys Security Index comes on the heels of the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) 2008 Annual Report, which found that complaints of online crime broke a record last year with a 33.1 percent jump in such cases. The total dollar loss due to online fraud increased by $25 million from the year before, to $265 million. "The higher number of reported complaints and financial impact from those incidents [in the IC3 study] coincides with the raised concerns of Americans in our survey," Unisys' Kelleher says. "We believe this shows that people are more aware of certain security issues, so we'll see if this trend continues."

Among other key findings in the Unisys report:

  • two-thirds of Americans are either "extremely" or "very" worried about credit card and debit card fraud;
  • more than 40 percent worry about viruses and unsolicited email;
  • two-thirds worry about identity theft; and
  • two-thirds are very concerned about abuse or unauthorized access to their personal information.

"People are still concerned about credit card fraud, and not just over the Internet," Kelleher says. "And their concerns about computer security is rising."

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