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Americans Doubt That Companies Keep Their Information Secure

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 5/21/2015

Pew Research privacy study shows that most Americans don't trust the government, businesses or technology providers to protect their personal information.

Information security. It's a hot topic for consumers and companies alike. But consumers are increasingly skeptical about the ability of private and public sector organizations to keep their personal information safe.

Americans Opinions on Data Security

Consumers Don't Believe Their Records and Information Are Secure

A recent Pew Research survey of approximately 500 adults ages 18 to 50+ showed that while concern about information security is at an all-time high, consumers' trust in the organizations that handle their personal information is plummeting.

Key findings from the study included:

  • Consumers want to control information access. Nearly all consumers (93%) are concerned about who can access their personal information and 90% of consumers believe they should be able to control the information that is collected about them.
  • Workplace monitoring isn't a major concern. Only 56% of respondents said they were concerned about being monitored at work. Consumers appear to be much more concerned about the monitoring of their online activities than they are about the monitoring of their activities in the workplace.
  • Trust in the government and retailers is low. Less than half of respondents (46%) lack confidence in credit card companies' ability to protect their personal information. The government fared slightly worse at 54%, while almost two-thirds of consumers (61%) said they don't trust retailers or companies to protect their personal data.
  • Consumer trust in social media provider and advertisers is even lower. Survey respondents said they trust social media sites and online advertisers the least. Just 11% of consumers said social media sites are capable of protecting their information and 7% expressed confidence in online advertisers who place ads on sites that they visit.

What Consumer Perceptions About Information Security Mean for Your Small Business

Trust is an important ingredient is small business success. If consumers don't trust your brand, you won't be able to build a loyal customer base. And since it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones, a lack of trust can directly impact your company's bottom line.

The Pew Research survey shows that consumers are especially distrustful when it comes to the privacy of their personal information online. For small businesses that sell products online, conveying trustworthiness in e-commerce has become a determining factor in nurturing healthy relationships with customers.

By implementing robust e-commerce security measures and clearly communicating them to your online customers, you can increase trust in your brand and achieve a competitive advantage over competitors that are less protective of consumers' personal information.

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