Americans scared of being robbed - online

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A new study has revealed that most U.S. PC users are worried about getting held up by online predators and schemers as much as bullies and robbers on the street.

More U.S. users are now worried about becoming the victims of an online attack than victims of physical violence, an IBM study revealed Wednesday. The poll revealed that PC users have also adjusted their online behavior in response to well publicized threats, breaches and other incidents.

More than three times the number of respondents believe they will be the victims of an online scam as those who think they will be affected by physical violence, IBM said.

Despite the threats, 70 percent of those polled said they would shop online – but only at sites that they trust and which display a security protection seal.

David Mackey, director of security intelligence at IBM, said the survey is proof that people "are taking the necessary steps" to protect themselves from intent predators.

"It's pretty definitive that internet commerce will be here for a long time," he said. "Seventy percent (of respondents to the survey) will still buy from trusted websites. That's a pretty significant number."

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they do not conduct online transactions on a shared computer, and 50 percent said they do not use shared wireless networks at places such as coffee shops or airports.

A large number of people expressed some hesitance to online financial transactions. Thirty-eight percent said they do not bank online, while 37 percent said they do not use credit card information online.

Twenty-nine percent said they have stopped reading credit or debit card information over the phone during the past year, while 27 percent stopped buying from unfamiliar retailers. Over the same period of time, 18 percent stopped paying bills online and 16 percent stopped playing online games.

Mackey said people are vulnerable to credit card schemes both online and in traditional marketplaces.

"I think that people are being a lot more wary about their credit card information," he said. "Those are scams that can really be exploited at any brick and mortar store."

Stuart McIrvine, director of security strategy for IBM, said that consumers are more aware of online threats.

"They are also cognizant that they need to protect themselves from this emerging threat, in much the same way that they would protect themselves from the threat of a physical crime," he said. "As awareness of these new threats emerges, it is key that consumers, businesses and government agencies work together to ensure that everything from education to retail is protected to help alleviate public worry about cybercrimes."

The study, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, reached 679 adult Americans 18-years-old and older.

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