Having heard — or lived through — horror stories about fraud and stolen identities, most consumers today are hyper-aware of the dangers they face sharing personal information online. They want to be 100% certain that the companies they do business with handle their personal information safely, responsibly, and transparently.
Above all, it seems they’re hungry for choice and control.
No longer willing to tolerate the status quo, most Americans aren’t comfortable with being left in the dark or lacking a say in how their data is used.
These changing expectations of data privacy mean the relationship between businesses and consumers is also changing. In the past, with a lack of clear boundaries and laws for handling consumer data, companies essentially had the freedom to do what they pleased with information gathered.
Now, consumers’ mistrust has put the heat on organizations to take responsibility.
According to a recent survey from Wakefield Research, commissioned by AU10TIX, nine in 10 Americans are willing to leverage security measures when accessing organizations online. A majority (67%) also say they don’t mind the hassle that additional security measures add to their experience if they feel it keeps them safe.
This shift is not surprising when considering the passcodes, two-factor verifications, and biometric measures that many of us now use daily to access our bank accounts and emails and to make purchases online.
In regard to businesses’ anti-fraud measures, our research indicates that an overwhelming majority (77%) of Americans place the responsibility of safeguarding personal information on the companies asking for it.
And if a company fails to fulfill its duty of protection, it could face detrimental consequences. Built on money, customers and trust, businesses know that if they lose one or more of these, they’ll begin to face an uphill battle for success.
The key to creating a mutually trusting relationship between a business and its customers? It may lie in consumers becoming more empowered and knowledgeable about their personal data.
The rise of identity literacy
This new preference for security even over convenience is in part because consumers are beginning to acquire much-needed “identity literacy”; in other words, they’re becoming more familiar with the very real risks of sharing their personal information online.
Therefore, more collaborative learning is required on the part of businesses and consumers when it comes to safe online interactions.
One way to think of it is that each time we interact online, we leave behind little breadcrumbs of personal information. While these crumbs may seem insignificant, fraudsters are crafty and can assemble an entire loaf of information from each bit to create complete and convincing false identities. Together, businesses and consumers will have the best chance of preventing this from happening.
And from what we’ve found, consumers want to know more, to be involved and kept apprised of what’s going on with their data.
They’re also skeptical of exactly how much info businesses really need to be collecting.
The Wakefield research shows 86% of Americans believe that businesses and organizations collect more information than is needed. Most (81%) also feel they have little to no control over their data once it’s shared.
But consumers unequivocally want more options and control. They want to choose what breadcrumbs they leave behind and how many, and they want to stop feeling powerless over their data privacy.
Laws, legislation, and technologies made to protect
The future of greater consumer choice and control lies in new laws and legislation geared toward protecting individuals’ data privacy. The proposed American Data Privacy and Protection Act may be a step in the right direction; if passed, it would have a significant impact, giving consumers more autonomy over their personal information.
But already, businesses can grant their consumers more choice and control with identification modalities. For example, in the interest of allowing individuals to share less information with organizations, technologies such as tokenization split digital IDs into modular elements. This enables consumers to share only the specific data points they choose — reducing the risk to both the individual and the organizations using the identity data.
Another way of granting consumers more control is through verifiable credentials — a term for a secure and reusable credential. We’re seeing this standard already advancing the future of identification modalities. For our partners, verifiable credentials are creating secure digital credentials for all aspects of life and work. They’re also answering the call to genuinely put individuals in control, allowing them to choose what credentials to share with others and what to keep private.
As consumers’ concerns about fraud, trust and the safety of their personal information quickly evolve, organizations worldwide must acknowledge it’s a give and gain relationship. Continue to seek ways to give your consumers more choice, and you will gain more trust.