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Pew Research, a nonpartisan organization that “that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world,” did a survey in January that showed:
• 18% of online adults have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information. That’s an increase from the 11% who reported personal information theft in July 2013.
• 21% of online adults said they had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over without their permission.
Referencing the Heartbleed flaw and breaches at Target, Neiman-Marcus, Michaels et al, which compromised the data of tens of millions of Americans, Mary Madden, a senior researcher for the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, writes, “The consequences of these flaws and breaches may add insult to injury for those who have already experienced some kind of personal information theft. And research suggests that young adults and younger baby boomers may have been especially hard hit in the second half of 2013.
“In our survey last year, we found that 7% of online adults ages 18-29 were aware that they had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security number, credit card or bank account information. The latest survey finds that 15% of young adults have experienced this kind of personal information theft. Similarly, those ages 50-64 became significantly more likely to report that they had personal information stolen; while 11% said they had this experience in July, that figure jumped to 20% in January. Increases among other age groups were not statistically significant.”
Not surprisingly, the Pew report shows that internet users “have become more worried about the amount of personal information available about them online—50% reported this concern in January 2014, up from 33% in 2009.”