Ponemon Institute Releases Results of 2007 Most Trusted Companies for Retail Banking Study

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Overall scores increased from previous year, U.S. Bank top rated for second year in a row.

Privacy and information management research firm the Ponemon Institute announced the results of the 2007 Privacy Trust Study for Retail Banking, measuring consumer perceptions of trustworthiness for retail banking institutes. In its sixth year, the study examines how issues related to consumer privacy and data security, and the ways in which retail banking institutions address those issues, translate to consumer opinion.

Identified for the first time in the 2007 Privacy Trust Study for Retail Banking were factors that appear to either build or erode trust. These factors are important for maintaining a high quality of service in an age when consumers seem to be sensitive to privacy related issues, as well as for re-building customer trust after a negative incident.

Factors that appear to build trust in a bank's privacy commitment:

-- Overall service quality, especially the customer service experience.
-- Privacy and data security practice disclosures, especially when banking online. Trust seals appear to be increasingly looked upon positively.
-- Rigorous online identity and authentication procedures.
-- Stated or implied commitment to stand behind the customer in the event of data theft.
-- Respectful advertising, promotion and customer outreach, including the opportunity to opt-out.

Factors that appear to erode trust in a bank's privacy commitment:

-- Data breaches -- it appears that the notification of a data breach has the most negative impact on a bank's overall trust perception.
-- Irrelevant or annoying advertising -- overly aggressive promotions for credit cards, mortgages and other products caused trust perceptions to decline.
-- Aggressive use and sharing of personal information, especially when the sharing involves off-shore outsourcing.
-- Poorly staffed or automated customer services.
-- Rumors of a bank's negligence or inability to protect customer information.

Overall, privacy trust scores for all top twenty banks increased slightly from 2006. However, banks that experienced a significant data breach event saw a decline in their privacy trust scores. According to the Ponemon Institute, the five most trusted banks for privacy in 2007 are:

1. U.S. Bank (Minneapolis)
2. Bank of America (Charlotte)
t3. National City (Cleveland)
t3. Wachovia (Charlotte)
4. PNC Bank (Pittsburgh)
5. Chase (New York)

"Safeguarding customer information is an important priority at U.S. Bank. That is why we strive to protect information about our customers, just like we watch over their money. The 2007 Most Trusted Companies for Retail Banking Study reflects the ongoing privacy commitment made every day by all U.S. Bank employees. We are extremely pleased to receive this number-one ranking," said Dan Burks, chief privacy officer at U.S. Bank.

This is the second-straight year that U.S. Bank was rated the most trusted retail bank.

"Considering the increased attention paid to consumer privacy and the number of breaches reported during the previous year, U.S. Bank's consecutive years at the top of this study is a significant achievement and stands as a testament to their commitment to the customer," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. "And the fact that the overall average score among the top twenty banks increased from 2006 suggests that, industry-wide, there has been a meaningful investment made in securing consumer data and building programs designed to earn customer trust."

Survey findings are derived from a final sample of 6,232 surveys returned a sample frame of 45,995 U.S. adult consumers.

About the Ponemon Institute
The Ponemon Institute© is dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research, educates leaders from the private and public sectors and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organizations in a variety of industries.

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