For the past two decades, companies have gathered tremendous amounts of data on Americans’ preferences, habits and identities — often without them understanding what is happening. As our data is collected, sold and bought, there aren’t just more companies and organizations profiting from our data, but also more possibilities for our personal information to fall into the wrong hands.
It is estimated that roughly 6 billion online accounts were exposed in data breaches in the last year alone. In the meantime, the commercial use of data harvested from our personal devices, along with our trail of electronic transactions, has grown in wild-west fashion. But now, because consumers are not only savvier about data privacy, but also more wary of the companies in charge of safeguarding it, those days are quickly coming to an end.
When it comes to sharing personal information online, Americans are no longer willing to accept the status quo of how businesses handle their personal data, according to a new consumer study from AU10TIX, conducted among 1,000 U.S. adults by independent research firm Wakefield Research.
In this two-part blog series, we explore the results of the survey (within this post) as well as the implications for businesses, governments and organizations (found here).
Among other findings, we learned that not only are Americans overwhelmingly concerned about the lack of control over their personal information but that there is also a shift underway: Consumers’ preference is now for security and control over convenience.
To that end, almost all (92%) Americans say they would be willing to use some sort of security measure when gaining access to the organizations and services they interact with.
The Next Era Will Be Defined By Who Controls Data
Most Americans (81%) believe they have lost control over their personal data once it’s shared with companies. And more than half (51%) are worried that their personal information may fall into the wrong hands.
These widespread “trust issues” may stem primarily from personal experience, as 44% of Americans say they’ve been victims of personal data theft themselves. And they’re clear on who should protect them from future breaches — the business or organization asking for their information is responsible for safeguarding it, say 77% of consumers.
Americans today have high expectations of businesses’ anti-fraud and identity recovery measures:
- Nearly all Americans (97%) expect some sort of action from the business or organization that suffered the breach.
- Most (70%) believe businesses should alert all current customers in the event of a breach.
Nearly as many (69%) say businesses that experience a breach that exposes customer data have a responsibility to help victims recover the identities stolen.
The New Data Imperative: Trust Over Transaction
We also learned that consumers desire to better understand why and how their data is collected and what businesses do with it once they have it. (At AU10TIX, we call this knowledge “identity literacy.”)
Yet, most Americans don’t find companies particularly forthcoming about how they handle data privacy. More than four in five (81%) believe there’s a lack of transparency in how businesses utilize personal information shared by consumers.
Consumers are also questioning exactly how much information companies really need to collect. While they are willing to share their personal information, the vast majority (86%) believe that businesses ask for too much of it.
And most (64%) say they have quit doing business online or working with an organization because they asked for too much personal information, determining that the potential risks they face by providing too much personal data outweigh the benefits of doing business.
Our survey found that U.S. consumers’ concerns about fraud, trust and the safety of their identity are quickly evolving. This makes it critical for brands, companies and organizations to advance their understanding about what consumers want, what’s worrying them and how their identity verification measures can foster trust and give them peace of mind.
For information about how your company can take action, and how AU10TIX can help, read our second blog in this series.
About the Survey
The AU10TIX Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between March 15 and March 20, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey. The data was weighted to ensure an accurate representation of adults ages 18+.