TRUSTe Survey Findings Indicate Majority of Small Businesses Neglect Vital Privacy Measures

San Francisco, Calif. – March 10, 2009 - Consumers may want to think twice about where they surf... online, that is. In a recent survey conducted for TRUSTe, the most widely recognized trustmark on the internet, 56 percent of small business owners with websites admitted to having no privacy policy on their website; of those who did, almost one-third "cut and pasted" their privacy policy from somewhere else, and one quarter wrote it themselves. Unfortunately, this can create brand risk that may deviate from local laws.

In addition to having shaky privacy policies among small businesses with Websites, security on small business sites may be an issue as well: the survey reports that 21 percent of small businesses don't know if they have encrypted pages on their website, and 30 percent admitted that they didn't know if they were PCI compliant. This lack of knowledge invites privacy lapses and security breaches that could lead to a consumer's information being stolen or abused. Furthermore, it suggests a critical need for steps to ensure the Website is a trustworthy landing point so that small businesses may conduct business safely and their customers have the best, safest experience possible.

"TRUSTe approves over 3,000 Websites, a large number of whom are small businesses," said Fran Maier, CEO of TRUSTe. "Over more than ten years of working closely with small businesses on online trust, we've found that things that may be overlooked -- such as a sturdy privacy policy or airtight privacy measures -- are the very elements that give small businesses an edge over their competitors. Especially in times of economic downturn, a good brand reputation is something small businesses should not jeopardize."

TRUSTe helps small businesses ensure that they have accurate privacy statements, helping them institute measures to protect consumers' personal information. Forrester research recently named TRUSTe the market leader in Internet privacy, citing TRUSTe as the most widely recognized assurance seal.

The survey also found that 79 percent of small businesses aware of trustmarks do not display any seal of approval on their website, even though half consider a trustmark such as TRUSTe important to identifying trustworthy sites. According to the National Small Business Association, small businesses constitute 99.7% of all U.S. companies, signifying an enormous need for online trust and safety on the part of both the small business and the consumer.

Consumer discomfort online can be a huge pain point in online sales, according to recent research:

  • Thirty-six percent of consumers claimed they would not use their credit or debit card to make a purchase with a Web merchant they didn't know. (Ponemon Institute, 2007)
  • While merchants anecdotally report that approximately 20-30 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned, research conducted by Marketing Sherpa actually found a 58 percent average abandonment rate.
  • Forty-nine percent of consumers abandon online shopping carts due to fear of identity theft; 53% worry about sharing personal information. (Marketing Sherpa 2006 study)

These statistics indicate a critical need for companies to demonstrate compliance with privacy best practices to gain consumer trust. Although privacy may often be overlooked by small businesses, it is essential to a company's success in an anemic economic climate.

For more information on privacy for small businesses and to take an online quiz, go to

Survey Methodology
The TRUSTe Small Business Survey was conducted by TNS, the world's largest custom research firm. The survey was conducted in December of 2008, taking a sample of 1,743 small business owners drawn from three TNS Panels.

About TRUSTe
TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.