Do you keep your money under a mattress or in your sock drawer? I’m going to venture a guess and say you do not. Neither do I. Nor do most other people. Most of us put our trust in banks and other financial institutions to hold and protect our money.

A Position of Trust

Working with banks involves sharing personal information like our names, addresses, employers and social security numbers. It also entails putting our trust in financial institutions to safeguard our finances and the personal data related to our accounts.

Banking on Customer Trust

That’s a lot of trust. And there’s good news. Banks and other financial establishments have been relatively successful in maintaining customer confidence that they can and will safeguard consumers’ money and personal data.

New Entrust nationwide research indicates that more than half of Americans trust their banks most to protect their personal data. Many people also have high confidence in the ability of the financial sector at large to protect personal data. A third of survey participants said they trust financial services firms more than any others to safeguard their data.

Meanwhile, just 23% of survey participants said they trust law firms most to protect their personal data. Only about 20% said they trust their cellular providers or the government most when it comes to personal data protection. And just 6% trust the ecommerce arms of brick-and-mortar retailers most.

The Need for Vigilance

Whether a business is in a vertical that inspires a lot of confidence or not, maintaining customer trust is a journey, not a destination. And trust can be fleeting. So, organizations of all stripes need to be vigilant in protecting their customers’ personal data.

It takes a lot of time and effort to build trust. But trust can be eroded or disappear completely, in the blink of an eye.

Our research bears out that point. Forty-nine percent of survey participants told us they would lose trust in their bank if it didn’t seem in control of data security. And 53% said their trust in digital payments would erode if their bank failed to notify them of a hack within 24 hours.

The Fear Factor

Consumers are clearly fearful of their data and identities being stolen. And customers want the organizations with which they do business to have control over protecting their personal data and to give them a feeling of control.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans told us they fear identity theft. Close to 60% of the folks we surveyed said they would distrust digital payments if their account was compromised and showed charges they didn’t make. Almost half said they worry about online security most when making an online purchase. And more than a third of Americans said they trust a company when they feel in control.

Trust or Consequences

Naturally, different individuals have their own unique views on personal data security. For example, 20% indicate they don’t trust anyone to protect their personal information. But 7% said nothing would cause them to lose trust in digital payments.

Yet a significant percentage of people agreed that businesses that don’t protect their personal data should suffer serious consequences. Thirty-eight percent of the people we surveyed said they believe a hack should be a federal offense. That group indicated a desire for laws that punish C-level executives who don’t keep consumer data safe.

The Bottom Line

So, clearly, the stakes are high.

The good news is that the financial services sector in general and banks in particular enjoy the trust of a good share of customers. Of course, many other organizations have built trust with customers, too. And most businesses work hard to keep their customers happy and coming back for more.

However, many consumers are distrustful of the online world and need ongoing assurances from banks and other businesses that their money and personal data are being safeguarded. So, businesses need to provide those assurances.

But building (or rebuilding) and then maintaining customer trust is about more than just assurances. Organizations also need to ensure their customers’ personal data is secure by employing smart strategies and the hardware and software technology to support them. Encryption is key to such strategies. In fact, more than 40% of survey participants said they trust companies that use data encryption to protect their personal information. And more than 33% said they would distrust a company that doesn’t use data encryption to protect their personal information.

Whatever your line of business, Entrust can help you make sure your company is part of the trusted group. Our solutions empower organizations with the tools and technology they need to deliver trust, integrity and control to business-critical information and applications. And that helps them keep their customers’ personal data safe.

You can take that to the bank.

For more information on how Entrust helps businesses protect critical data, check out our product page. You can also follow Entrust on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.