Americans find murder less terrifying than having their identity stolen by a wide margin, finds a new report from AtlasVPN.com, based on a survey of more than 1,500 respondents. With data breaches in the U.S. reaching record high numbers, consumers’ fears are growing.
Sixty-seven percent of Americans are afraid of being a victim of identity theft while 20% are scared of being murdered. Identity theft was the top fear, also surpassing concerns over getting burglarized and becoming a victim of a terrorism act.
Identity theft cases tend to increase during tax season, experts warn. If criminals steal a Social Security number, they can file a tax return form in your name and receive your refund.
In 2019, hackers exposed 7.9 billion private records—in other words, one in every two seconds someone became a victim of identity theft. Cyber threats are a growing way to steal identities, and it’s hitting the real estate industry particularly hard, with hackers trying to scam buyers out of down payments or steal personal information from brokerages.
The threats likely will get worse in 2020, security experts warn. “Hackers are finding new ways to overcome the current security measures,” says Rachel Welch, chief operating officer of Atlas VPN. “Each company has to be on its toes and expect a serious attack sooner or later. … The damage related to cybercrime will hit $6 trillion by the end of this year.”
Smartphone users are the most concerned, the AtlasVPN.com survey found. Some of the most concerning data privacy issues among mobile users are: Identity theft fraud; stolen passwords; and not knowing what personal information is being used for.
The highest number of identity theft cases is in Georgia, followed by Florida and California, the report shows.
Security experts recommend that victims of identity theft visit IdentityTheft.gov to create a recovery plan. Also, access more resources from the National Association of REALTORS®.