As the digital landscape becomes more complex and menacing, consumers are becoming more protective of sensitive information. A new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) confirmed this finding, revealing that individuals will only give companies personal data if businesses guarantee records are safe and offer customers rewards for sharing info.
The main takeaway from the study is that American consumers are willing to share personal records with organizations to a point and will draw the line if companies demand data that is too sensitive. The survey revealed that 73 percent of respondents said they would give businesses information, depending on what they got in return.
Furthermore, PwC revealed that younger consumers are more willing to share info than older consumers, as 78 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds would give information to companies in return for something, compared to only 68 percent of individuals between the ages of 45 and 59.
How far are consumers willing to go?
The majority of individuals said that although they want free benefits if they give up data to companies, consumers ultimately want to be in control of the information they provide.
"I don't see date of birth bothering me. Yearly income, it doesn't even have to be true. What I say it is. Obviously, we just went through the email address. It means nothing to me," one younger consumer said, according to PwC. "Phone numbers, I would be more wary of giving my cell phone number. I give them a house number all the time. No one answers that. It’s just cell phones are direct to you."
The survey revealed that 81 to 93 percent of respondents would be willing to give up gender and marital relationship information, yet only 11 to 17 percent would provide medical and financial records. Only 3 percent would be willing to share their Social Security numbers – for a price.
PwC noted that roughly 87 percent of respondents said they want to be in control of what information companies have and how they can use it. As a result, decision-makers need to implement the right data security tools over sensitive records to ensure they are well protected.
What this means for businesses
The seventh data protection principle – or the appropriate measures taken to ensure organizations don't use personal customer information in an unauthorized or unlawful way – is becoming increasingly important as mobile and social technologies become more common, according to a report by the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
Decision-makers need to be especially careful during the advent of big data, as misusing sensitive information can result in fines or damaged reputations, which will lead to fewer sales in the future. The ICO noted that this is especially important for small businesses that may have fewer resources than their enterprise rivals.
"While we recognize that the biggest companies and organizations will have many of these strategies already in place and have spent a great deal of money on securing their IT systems, smaller enterprises often tell us that they would benefit from simple and clear advice specifically designed for them," Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said.
As the digital landscape continues to mature and evolve, businesses of all sizes will need to prioritize data privacy policies in their attempt to capture and harness customer information to their benefit. By providing greater visibility into what data is accumulated and how it is used, companies may be able to increase their customers' trust.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro