Personal data theft jumps from 11% to 18% in six months

Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account information, and other private data are being stolen at a rapidly rising rate, according to a Pew Research study.


It's no coincidence that as more news spreads of various hacks, data breaches, and cybercrime, more people are reporting their personal online information stolen.

The Pew Research Center released a survey on Monday showing that 18 percent of US online adults reported having important personal information stolen, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank account data. That is 7 percent higher than what was reported in July 2013.

While it appears that more people are becoming victims of cybercrime, the amount of US online adults who had an email or social-networking account compromised or taken over without their permission has stayed the same since last July -- at 21 percent.

News of the massive Heartbleed bug reverberated across the Internet last week showing how easily people's online data could be accessed. This particularly nasty vulnerability -- which has the capability to potentially expose people's usernames and passwords on sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Pinterest -- sent sites and services across the Internet into patch mode.

While extremely serious, Heartbleed wasn't the first online vulnerability and definitely won't be the last. In the past few months, both Target and Nieman Marcus experienced massive data breaches that affected tens of millions of customers, along with other breaches into University systems and smaller Web sites, like Kickstarter.

"The consequences of these flaws and breaches may add insult to injury for those who have already experienced some kind of personal information theft," Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project senior researcher Mary Madden wrote in a blog post Monday.

Pew got its findings from a January 2014 survey of 1,002 US adults.

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