More than Half of European Citizens Worry About Malicious Use of Their Online Data

According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 55% of European citizens are concerned about their online data being accessed by cyber criminals and fraudsters.

FRA surveyed around 35,000 people across all EU member states, UK and North Macedonia for the study to determine a comprehensive set of opinions concerning data protection and consumer rights, and the depth of fraudulent activity citizens have been exposed to.

The report highlights that 8% of EU citizens have experienced some form of online fraud or misuse of their online bank account or credit card details in the past 5 years. Most notably, citizens with long-term health problems (14%) and low-income households (11%) show a higher percentage of malicious activity.

More than 80% of online banking and credit card fraud was reported by victims to financial authorities or police. However, in many cases where a report was not filed, victims said they did not consider the incident serious enough to report (22%), that they had no proof (22%), or that they were able to take care of the issue themselves without reporting it (21%).

Additionally, 16% of respondents who chose not to report the incident claimed reporting it was too much trouble, or that they did not know how or where to report fraudulent activity.

When asked ‘How worried are you that in the next 12 months you could experience” misuse of your online bank account or credit or debit card details, 57% of respondents from Spain said they are very worried, in comparison with 23% of respondents from the UK.

Concerns regarding unauthorized access of data is a common denominator among all the surveyed aged groups. However, this concern is more common among older respondents. For example, the concern afflicted 64% of respondents over the age of 65 compared to 46% of 16-29-year olds.

Respondents also worry about advertisers, businesses and foreign governments illegally accessing their data. 31% of people in the EU are concerned about advertisers or businesses accessing the information they have shared online without their permission.

“Meanwhile, 30% are concerned about their data being accessed by foreign governments without their knowledge or permission (based on people who use the internet at least sometimes)”, the report said.

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