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U.S. consumers are worried about their data security, and with good reason. A survey released by HSB, part of Munich Re, shows a continuing increase in identity theft, cyber-attacks and online fraud, as criminals steal personal information and millions of dollars.

The survey found that 77 percent of consumers were very or somewhat concerned about online identity theft. Almost as many were concerned that they could be hacked or have their personal data stolen while shopping on a public Wi-Fi connection.

Cyber Attacks, Ransomware, Scams and Schemes

The number of consumers who said their identities were stolen increased to 23 percent, up five percent over similar HSB surveys in 2018 and 2016. Victims spent an average of 27 hours to monitor their credit and correct personal information.

One-third of consumers (34 percent) said they had experienced a cyber-attack. A computer virus or other malware was the most typical damage (72 percent) and 59 percent of consumers spent more than $500 to respond.

Almost a quarter of consumers (23 percent) had their email or social media accounts interfered with, taken over, or used by an unauthorized person, continuing a slowly rising trend, according to the survey.

Although ransomware attacks were steady (11 percent), victims were more likely to pay criminals to unlock their data or keep it private. About half said they paid the ransom, in most cases $2,000 or less, compared with about one-third in the earlier surveys.

Online consumer fraud nearly doubled from previous HSB surveys to 16 percent of individuals, who said most of the crimes were committed through payment services (48 percent), online auctions (21 percent) and dating websites (20 percent). More than half of fraud victims lost over $500 and a third lost over $1,000.

Zogby Analytics was commissioned by HSB to conduct a survey in December 2019 and reported the results in January 2020.