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LATEST EQUIFAX PRIVACY SURVEY SHOWS CONSUMERS ACKNOWLEDGE BENEFITS AND DANGERS OF COMPUTERS; PUBLIC RECORD INFORMATION SEEN AS TOO AVAILABLE

 ATLANTA, Nov. 23 ~PRNewswire~ -- "The Harris-Equifax Consumer Privacy Survey 1992" has found that most Americans acknowledge that computers have brought benefits to society, yet they still consider some uses of computers as threats to personal privacy.
 Similarly, the majority of Americans believe it is all right for companies to check public record information on consumers applying for credit, auto insurance or jobs, but believe it is not all right if the consumer has not initiated a transaction.
 Other findings include:
 -- data supporting the practice of stores inquiring into a consumer's check-cashing history;
 -- some negative response about the degree of protection of personal information to be expected from business in the future.
 C.B. Rogers Jr., Equifax chairman, president and CEO, said: "Our sponsorship of these annual surveys demonstrates that Equifax is committed to regarding consumers as valued customers. We listen to consumers and factor the results of these surveys into our business decisions as we strive to maintain the balance between the information needs of business and the privacy concerns of consumers."
 Conducted in June 1992 by Louis Harris and Associates for Equifax (NYSE: EQX), the latest survey is the second annual update to the landmark 1990 study "The Equifax Report on Consumers in the Information Age." It reveals that consumers see benefits and dangers surrounding uses of computers and in the availability and use of public record information by businesses and individuals.
 -- Most Americans acknowledge the benefits that computers have brought to society. Almost four in five (79 percent) agree that "computers have improved the quality of life in our society." Eighty- nine percent agree that "computers give people more convenient access to useful information and services."
 -- At the same time, most Americans also acknowledge that present computer uses pose dangers to personal privacy. Almost seven in 10 (68 percent) Americans agree that "the present uses of computers represent a threat to personal privacy."
 -- Regarding public records, the majority of Americans believe it is all right for companies to check public record information of consumers applying for credit (71 percent), auto insurance (72 percent) or a job (75 percent).
 -- On the other hand, the public is much less likely to say it is all right to have individual public record information available to private investigators (34 percent), companies who mail people information about products and services (34 percent) and the media to publish information about public figures (28 percent).
 Dr. Alan F. Westin, professor of government and public law at Columbia University and one of the nation's leading privacy experts, assisted Equifax and Harris in developing the surveys. According to Westin, the results of the study are "a reassuring sign that the American people are very concerned and interested in issues of social policy." He and Equifax agree that the 1992 survey findings present further challenges to business leaders, consumer and privacy advocates, and legislators and regulators.
 Equifax has used previous survey data to launch a series of consumer-oriented initiatives, such as adopting a Fair Information Practices Code, establishing an Office of Consumer Affairs, having independent privacy audits of its products and services, significantly improving the accuracy and readability of credit reports and opening (in December 1991) the Equifax Information Service Center which provides 24- hour 800-number access for all consumers.
 Equifax Inommissioned the original Harris survey in 1990 and sponsors updates annually. Established in 1899 in Atlanta, Equifax today has 12,000 employees 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, 1991, were more than $1 billion.
 -0- 11~23~92
 ~EDITOR'S NOTE: The following fact sheet describes survey methodology and major findings.
 HARRIS-EQUIFAX CONSUMER PRIVACY SURVEY 1992
 F A C T S H E E T
 November 23, 1992
 The 1992 Harris-Equifax Consumer Privacy Survey is the second annual update to "The Equifax Report on Consumers in the Information Age," published in June 1990. As with that initial landmark study, Equifax in 1992 continues to seek greater understanding of consumers' attitudes on privacy and to publicly share the findings of these surveys toward the goal of helping business and consumers do business together.
 METHODOLOGY
 -- The survey is based on interviews conducted with a cross-section of the American public on June 9-18, 1992.
 -- The 1,254 respondents represent 202 million Americans 18 years old or older.
 -- Topics examined in the survey include concerns about privacy, consumer control of personal information, concerns about and effects of computers on society, credit report disclosure, attitudes about inquiries on past check-paying performance, and public feelings on access to individual consumer data in public records.
 MAJOR FINDINGS
 -- Public concern about threats to personal privacy remains high at 78 percent.
 -- A majority of the American public (55 percent) feels that protection of information about consumers will get worse by the year 2000.
 -- Most Americans acknowledge the benefits that computers have brought to society and their lives. For example, almost four in five (79 percent) agree that "computers have improved the quality of life in our society."
 -- At the same time, almost seven in 10 (68 percent) Americans also acknowledge that the present uses of computers represent a threat to personal privacy.
 -- About one-third (34 percent) of all Americans have seen a copy of their credit report or had the contents of their credit report read to them over the telephone.
 -- Most Americans (75 percent) who pay by check when shopping in a store accept the store's right to inquire into their past checking performance.
 -- Overwhelming majorities of the public say it is generally all right for companies to check the public record information of consumers applying for credit or auto insurance and of people applying for jobs. Yet, they are much less likely to say it is all right to check an individual's public record information in situations where that individual has not initiated a transaction for goods or services or a job.~
 ~CONTACT: John A. Ford, APR, assistant vice president, Corporate Public Affairs of Equifax, 404-885-8309 or, home, 404-469-0920~
 (EQX)


CO: Equifax Inc.; Louis Harris and Associates ST: Georgia IN: SU:

BN-EA -- AT019 -- 0767 11~23~92 17:41 EST
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