Page last updated at 01:50 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 02:50 UK

Firms 'give out' customer details

A computer
Consumers often give personal details when buying goods

Businesses are giving out personal and confidential details about customers to third parties in a bid to boost sales, an internet security firm has claimed.

StrongMail said a fifth would give out credit card information and 7% would disclose customers' sexual orientation.

About 60% of the survey of marketing and data protection executives at 900 firms said they had had a data breach in which customer information was lost.

Nearly 90% of these said the incidents had not been reported to customers.

The survey of marketing and data protection executives also found that some marketing professionals were prepared to give out personal data.

One in five said they had given out credit card details, one in seven would reveal information about customers political affiliations, and one in 10 would disclose their religious beliefs.

Paul Bates, managing director of StrongMail UK, said: "Businesses have a moral, ethical obligation to keep private, personal customer data safe and secure.

"They should not be handing it out to third parties in the hope of making a fast buck. If they choose to do this, and then lose customer data, then they should at least be obliged to admit it."

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