Studies Show Consumer Fears Impede Web Buying, Surfing

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Consumer fears are a major reason why new Internet users are not making as many purchases online, and they account for why 57 percent of those without Internet access do not plan to use the Internet at all, according to two recent studies.

"New users, both enthused and unenthused, demonstrated some reluctance to actually buy things over the Internet," said John B. Horrigan, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, Washington, which conducted the study.

In the first report, a March poll of 3,533 American adults, including 1,690 new Internet users, was compared with a November 1998 poll of 3,184 American adults of which 1,184 were new Internet users. The purpose was to analyze the online behavior of new Internet users, Horrigan said.

Based on the outcome, he said new users not only are half as likely as experienced users to have ever bought anything online, but they also are about twice as likely to say they have a high level of worry about credit-card theft online.

In an April poll of American adults, 57 percent of respondents who did not have Internet access said they had no intention of going online. Of the 2,503 people who participated, 1,158 said they did not have Internet access.

Among the non-Internet-using respondents, 54 percent cited their belief that the Internet is a dangerous thing as their primary reason for not being online, although they were not asked what they considered dangerous about it, said Amanda Lenhart, research specialist at Pew Internet and principal author of the report.

Furthermore, 13 percent of those not online once had Internet access. Of those respondents, 8 percent said they no longer had access due to privacy concerns.

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