Consumer Trust Meltdown With Businesses Over Personal Data

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Porkie pie time…study finds consumers deliberately provide wrong information when businesses ask for personal details

Consumers are growing increasing wary of handing over their personal data to businesses, a new survey has found.

The study by identity verification specialist GBG found that most consumers now deliberately provide the wrong information when asked for personal details, a move that the firm says can endanger the growth plans of any organisation.

Trust Meltdown

The study found that consumers now believe that the risks of handing over their data now outweighs the benefits. Indeed, the research found that two out three respondents admitted to deliberately providing incorrect personal information, which some feel is hardly surprising in these days of semi-regular data breach revelations.

The global survey approached 1,246 adults (consumers) and 920 business decision makers in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Brazil and Australia.

It found that the Germans are the least trusting, with 71 percent admitting that they lie. The British were not much better, with 62 percent saying their lie when handing over their personal data. Only 57 percent of Australians said they were deliberately misleading.

internet privacyAnd it seems the youth of today are the least trusting, with 18-24 year olds the worst offenders (81 percent admitted to providing the wrong information when asked for personal information). The elderly are much more honest, after 59 percent of over 65s said they don’t lie.

Phone numbers are the most commonly incorrect piece of personal data given, and men (18 percent) are more likely to lie about their age than women (12 percent).

Only 10 percent of people believe they benefit from handing over personal information to a business, which suggests companies have work to do to explain the advantages to consumers.

But why is there such a big trust meltdown between consumers and businesses?

Well 73 percent of consumers believe the risks outweigh the benefits when handing over data. In addition 73 percent are concerned that they will receive unsolicited contact from businesses as a result, and 83 percent fret that their information will be sold on to another organisation without their knowledge.

“Data distrust is coming at a cost to businesses,” said GBG CEO, Richard Law, as he warned about the chasm that has formed between consumers and brands when it comes to data.

“Data is the fuel of the digital economy, and if there’s not enough or if it’s of poor quality, businesses will not survive,” said Law. “People have, quite rightly, placed a bounty on this information – whether it’s their name, location, items bought during the weekly shop, or even biometrics – because it’s their personal property. Businesses must treat it as such.”

“If we’re to avoid another global economic crisis, there needs to be a shift in the way businesses collect and use our personal information,” said Law. “At all times, less is more and they should only ask for the information they need. The value exchange must be crystal clear and businesses need to be open and transparent about why they are asking for the information, how they’ll use it, and the value they’ll give back to the customer.”

He cited the example of consumers having to register to use the Wi-Fi network of a pub or restaurant. He said that consumers may intentionally submit false email for fear of marketing spam, but this means the customer has not been recognised and thus they will need to re-register every time they visit. The consumer could also miss out any relevant discounts or special offers.

Growing Distrust?

The GBG study paints a much bleaker picture of the state of trust between businesses and consumers.

A previous Symantec study in February for example found that one in three of Brits had provided false information online in order to safeguard their privacy.

And over half (53 percent) avoid posting personal data online in order to stay safe.

Last month a consumer survey found that 74 percent of people were happy to share location based data with third parties, but 72 percent felt far better regulation was required to ensure such data is used responsibly.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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