SOURCE: ProQuo

May 20, 2008 11:15 ET

Junk Mail Volume Early Indication of Personal Privacy Risk; Online Privacy Quiz Assesses Consumer Risk Against National Study

LA JOLLA, CA--(Marketwire - May 20, 2008) - According to a new study conducted by Harris Interactive®, consumers are unaware of 12 everyday activities, including entering a sweepstakes, having a baby, getting married or filling out a warranty card, that can compromise the security of personal information. This can lead to increased profiling without consent and greater exposure to identity theft, along with increased paper junk mail volume -- an unnecessary drain on the environment.

Take a free privacy quiz and compare your risk level against the national average.

According to Steven Gal, CEO of ProQuo, a leading authority on privacy issues, one of the early indicators that a consumer's personal information may be widely available in the data trade industry is the amount of junk mail they receive. The average person receives approximately 40 pounds of paper junk mail per year, with obvious consequences to the environment. Through ProQuo.com, consumers can pro-actively remove themselves from major data broker marketing and mailing lists, while also indicating what type of offers, if any, they do want to receive. The service is free.

Hear more from Steven Gal in an interview on the BNET Business Network.

Results from the study show that 73 percent of adults entered a sweepstakes in the past six months, but less than half (48 percent) were aware that doing so can put their personal information at risk. Sixty-nine percent of respondents were unaware that donating to a political campaign could compromise control over personal information.

Other seemingly harmless but potentially risky behaviors include applying for a home mortgage, signing up for a supermarket discount card, applying for a credit card in a retail store or enrolling in a rewards program such as frequent flyer or hotel points programs. Gal said consumers' personal data is bought and sold many times over as part of a little-known $10 billion per year data trade industry. "While we don't expect consumers to change their day-to-day behavior, we do want them to be aware of how these activities can put their privacy at risk."

Survey Methodology The Privacy and Personal Information survey was commissioned by ProQuo, Inc. and conducted online by Harris Interactive between March 13 and March 17, 2008. A full methodology is available.

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