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1991 HARRIS-EQUIFAX SURVEY FINDS LOW INCIDENCE OF IMPROPER INVASIONS OF PRIVACY

 1991 HARRIS-EQUIFAX SURVEY FINDS LOW INCIDENCE
 OF IMPROPER INVASIONS OF PRIVACY
 ATLANTA, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-quarters of the public do not feel they have ever been the victims of improper invasions of privacy, according to the newly released "1991 Harris-Equifax Consumer Privacy Survey."
 The 25 percent who believe they have been victims of invasions of privacy named the police, market researchers, and neighbors and other individuals as the most common offenders.
 The 1991 Harris-Equifax survey is the first update to the landmark 1990 study, The Equifax Report on Consumers in the Information Age, which Equifax pledged to update annually.
 "We believe that our annual survey of consumer attitudes is an important contribution to the national dialogue on privacy issues," said C.B. "Jack" Rogers Jr., president and chief executive officer of Equifax. "This new survey is yet another in a series of actions Equifax has taken as a socially responsible steward of consumer information."
 Between Jan. 1 and July 8, Louis Harris and Associates conducted telephone interviews with 1,255 Americans 18 years of age or older, representing a cross section of the national population. The 1991 survey replicates a number of questions asked in the 1990 Equifax study and on earlier Harris surveys and includes as well several new questions.
 Other major survey findings show that the level of public concern about threats to privacy remains high. At 79 percent, this is identical to the level recorded in the 1990 survey. Also, the same number of people (71 percent) as in 1990 feel that consumers have lost all control over how personal information about them is circulated and used by companies.
 Although a majority of the public (58 percent) now believes that consumer privacy rights in credit reporting are not adequately protected by law and business practice, more than three out of every five Americans (62 percent) have either a great deal of confidence or some confidence in the information used by business to decide whether to offer them credit.
 In his analysis, Dr. Alan Westin, professor of public law and government at Columbia University, noted privacy expert and academic advisor for both the 1990 and 1991 studies, found that the survey respondents divide into three groups on issues of information privacy involving government, business and personal morality. "Privacy Fundamentalists" constitute 25 percent of Americans; the "Unconcerned" group is 18 percent; and the "Pragmatic Majority" is 57 percent of the population.
 These groupings create what Westin calls the "privacy dynamic." The Pragmatists can swing either way, depending on their perceptions of the use organizations are making of personal data. If they believe organizations are following adequate principles of fair information practices, they join the Unconcerned, to make up 70-75 percent-level majorities accepting organizational policies and rejecting need for additional regulation. If they perceive that fair information practices are not being followed, they join the Fundamentalists, to make up 75-80 percent-level majorities favoring new laws and regulations.
 Westin's analysis also found that, as measured by responses to a two-question index, concern over consumer privacy had risen 5 percent since 1990. This increase may reflect the extensive media coverage of privacy, accuracy and other consumer issues involving credit bureaus and direct marketers, as well as well-publicized congressional hearings on these issues during late 1990 and in 1991.
 Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) is a Fortune 500 company and the leading provider of information for consumer financial transactions. Established in 1899 in Atlanta, Equifax today has 15,000 employees in 1,100 locations in the United States, Canada and Europe. Equifax provides information services and automated systems that help its customers grant credit, insure lives and property, select new employees, market offers of credit, and complete other transactions that benefit the economy, business and consumers. Equifax's revenues for the year ended Dec. 31, 1990, were more than $1 billion.
 The following is a fact sheet listing the major findings of the 1991 survey:
 1991 HARRIS-EQUIFAX CONSUMER PRIVACY SURVEY FINDINGS
 1. The level of public concern about threats to privacy remains high at 79 percent, but unchanged from 1990.
 2. Three-quarters of the public do not feel that they have ever been the victims of improper invasions of privacy. However, the 25 percent who do is higher than the 19 percent who felt that way in 1978.
 3. Most commonly named organizations which consumers say invade privacy include the police (19 percent), marketing research/polling firms (10 percent), neighbors (9 percent), credit bureaus (9 percent), and the government (7 percent).
 4. Most people (71 percent) believe that consumers have lost all control over how personal information about them is circulated and used.
 5. A majority of the public (58 percent) now believes that their privacy rights as consumers in credit reporting are not adequately protected by law and business practice.
 6. A modest plurality (34 percent) of consumers thinks the answer of privacy protection lies in improved business practice. The remainder are equally divided between those who favor new legislation and those who want a government committee or board.
 7. About 46 percent of the public sees direct mail offers as a nuisance and 9 percent sees them as an invasion of privacy. About 55 percent sees telephone marketing as a nuisance and 27 percent sees it as an invasion of privacy.
 8. Almost half of all Americans say they have bought something by mail order in the previous 12 months.
 9. About 44 percent of the public are aware of procedures to remove their names from direct mail lists. Only 22 percent would like to have their names removed from all, rather than just some, lists.
 10. About 20 percent of adults say they have been denied credit in the past two years because of information in their credit reports.
 11. About 62 percent of Americans have confidence in the information businesses use to decide whether to offer them credit.
 12. Most Americans say they would not be interested in obtaining copies of their credit reports at a reasonable price.
 13. The public is willing to have information about them collected and used to obtain mortgages (57 percent), auto loans (58 percent) and credit cards (55 percent), but not for jobs (45 percent) or insurance (46 percent).
 14. A majority (52 percent) say they would be willing to provide Social Security numbers directly to a business to increase the accuracy of credit reports.
 15. Young adults (18-29) are the most pragmatic and accepting of business uses of information; mid-life Americans (30-49) are middle of the road on most specific consumer privacy issues, and older Americans (50 and over) are the most concerned about privacy today.
 -0- 11/25/91
 /CONTACT: John A. Ford of Equifax, 404-885-8309/
 (EFX) CO: Equifax Inc. ST: Georgia IN: SU:


BN-BR -- AT013 -- 7019 11/25/91 16:31 EST
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 25, 1991
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