Survey: Spam Top Worry for Holiday E-Shoppers

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Many consumers say the fear of triggering spam will curtail their online holiday shopping, according to a survey released this week.

The poll, done by NFO WorldGroup for privacy organization TRUSTe, asked more than 1,200 consumers their comfort level with e-commerce. Spam was the top factor identified as limiting or preventing e-commerce this holiday season, with 38 percent saying they feared a product purchase would lead to spam. Another 35 percent said identity-theft risk hindered their e-commerce, and 30 percent feared credit card fraud.

Consumers were split on how much privacy worries would affect their shopping. Nearly 40 percent said it would not limit it at all, while 49 percent said it would limit their online shopping. Of those concerned about privacy, more than 5 percent said it would keep them from shopping online at all. About 11 percent responded they had no plans to shop online during the holidays, regardless of privacy protections.

The findings of lower trust levels in e-commerce linked to spam follow similar findings by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. In a survey released in October, 52 percent of e-mail users said spam made them trust e-mail less. One in four said spam reduced their use of e-mail, and 70 percent found using the Internet unpleasant because of spam.

Half of respondents to the TRUSTe survey said they would buy only from sites with a posted privacy policy or privacy seal. Another 25 percent said statements and seals made them more comfortable. Consumers also were more skeptical of smaller retailers. About 33 percent said they were less willing to shop from a small retailer. Of those, 61 percent cited concerns over the misuse of personal information.

TRUSTe awards Web sites its "trustmark," which they can display in return for posting a privacy policy that outlines what type of information is collected and how it is used.

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