92 per cent of consumers do not fully understand what companies do with the personal information about them that is held on record, a survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing has revealed.
31 per cent of the 2,500 people surveyed said they had no idea where and how their personal data was being used, while 57 per cent of people did not trust companies to handle their data responsibility, and more than half said they had been contacted by organisations that had misused their data.
70 per cent of consumers said they saw no benefit in sharing their personal data at all, suggesting that marketers and brands need to be clearer about how data is used and why it is collected, both for consumers' piece of mind and to increase understanding of the benefits of personalised and targeted advertising.
High profile hacking scandals like Yahoo's recent loss of 500m users' account data have made consumers particularly hesitant to provide information to firms that do not appear secure, and wary of crimes like identity theft.
As well as concerns about cybercrime and online fraud, 44 per cent of consumers are worried about being unable to control who holds their data, with 38 per cent concerned about being sent physical or online junk mail or spam, and 35 per cent worried about unwanted adverts on social media.
Only 16 per cent admit to always reading the available terms and conditions when providing their personal data, while over a quarter admit to not knowing their data protection rights as a consumer.
The report called on marketers and brands to be honest with consumers about data use, while also articulating the benefits, respecting customer data and gaining an understanding of good data practices themselves.
"The message is clear – consumers, particularly the high-spending older generations, are in the dark about what is happening to the data concerning them," said the report. "If organisations don't start explaining what they want the data for, what they're doing with it and the benefits of sharing – as well as providing tried-and-tested reassurances – then there is really no reason for consumers to share it at all."