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Majority in new survey worried about being tricked by scammer

The majority of respondents in a new survey say they are worried about being tricked by a scammer, making it the second-highest crime concern for Americans.

In a Gallup survey released Tuesday, 57 percent of respondents say they either frequently or occasionally worry about being tricked by a scammer or providing access to a financial account.

That concern ranks only behind the worry of being the victim of identity theft, which concerns 72 percent of Americans. Getting one’s car stolen or broken into is the only other crime that concerns a majority of Americans, with 51 percent saying they worry about it frequently or occasionally.

Asked to indicate which crimes they worry about frequently or occasionally, 44 percent selected home burglary when they were not home; 42 percent selected having a school-aged child physically harmed while attending school; 37 percent said getting mugged; 33 percent said being attacked while driving a car; 30 percent said being a victim of a hate crime; 28 percent said getting murdered; and 27 percent said being sexually assaulted.

The Gallup survey suggested people’s concerns about scammers may be justified. Asked to indicate which crimes they have experienced or someone in their household has experienced in the past 12 months, 8 percent said they have been tricked by a scammer into sending money or providing access to a financial account, and 15 percent said someone in their household has been victimized by this crime.

Eleven percent of respondents said they have been the victim of identity theft; 9 percent said they personally have had their home, property or car vandalized; and 9 percent said they personally have had money or property stolen from them. Sixteen percent said these crimes happened to someone in their household.

This year marked the first time Gallup included scamming in its annual measure of Americans’ crime victimization.

While every subgroup of Americans seemed susceptible to scammers, U.S. adults who have not graduated college and those with lower incomes were more likely to report falling victim to scams in the past 12 months.

Twenty percent of respondents with an annual income of less than $50,000 reported someone in their household fell victim to a scammer, including 12 percent who identified themselves as the victim. Twenty-one percent without a college degree said someone in their household was a victim of a scam, including 11 percent who identified themselves as the victim.

Contrary to some beliefs, younger people reported more often falling victim to scams in the past 12 months: 22 percent of adults ages 18-29 said someone in their household was scammed, including 10 percent who said they were personally; 17 percent of adults ages 30-49 reported someone in their household was scammed, including nine percent who said they were personally.

Adults ages 50-64 were least likely to report falling victim to a scam, with 9 percent reporting someone in their household falling victim to a scam, including 5 percent personally. Thirteen percent of adults ages 65 and older fell victim to a scam, including 9 percent who personally have been.

The survey was conducted Oct. 2-23 and was based on telephone interviews with 1,009 U.S. adults. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.