Consumers Are Increasingly Being Victimized Online, Study Finds

Consumers are getting snookered in new and more devious ways online. And they know it, although often not until after the fact, judging by a study released last week by specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) conducted by Zogby Analytics. 

Of consumers polled, 23% had their identity stolen in 2019 -- a 5% increase over 2016 and 2018, the study says. 

And these victims spent 27 hours dealing with the fallout, mainly correcting personal information and monitoring their credit. 

Overall, 77% are at least somewhat concerned about identity theft occurring while they are shopping on a public Wi-Fi connection. Moreover, 34% suffered a cyber attack last year, with viruses or malware the most common damage for 72%. 

In addition, 23% say their email or social media accounts were tampered with or taken over by an unauthorized person. 

In ransomware attacks, 11% of victims were willing to pay to have their data or unlocked or to retain it in private. 



Roughly 50% paid the ransom -- usually $2,000 or less -- up from about 33% in prior surveys. 

Over 50% of the victims lost more than $500, and 33% were bilked of over $1,000.  

Meanwhile, the number of online scam fraud victims doubled to 16% of the population, compared with prior surveys. The main swindles involved: 

  • Payment services — 48% 
  • Online auctions — 21% 
  • Dating websites — 20%

“Americans are more connected than ever, linking all types of devices and systems to the internet,” states Timothy Zeilman, vice president for HSB. “That gives criminals new opportunities to target individuals at home and on public Wi-Fi networks.”


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