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    Report: More Consumers Going Online, but Trust Is a Major Concern

    NEW YORK - More Americans are going online now than at the end of last year, and more users are satisfied with their online experience, but trust remains a major concern, according to the Consumer Internet Barometer, a new quarterly measure of who's doing what on the Internet.

    NEW YORK - More Americans are going online now than at the end of last year, and more users are satisfied with their online experience, but trust remains a major concern, according to the Consumer Internet Barometer, a new quarterly measure of who's doing what on the Internet. The new survey goes beyond who's buying what online to include latest data on how consumers are using the Internet and how satisfied they are with their online activities.

    The percentage of Americans going online at least monthly has edged up to nearly 61 percent today, compared to 59 percent at the end of last year. While satisfaction levels have risen during the last nine months, trust levels have not. Many consumers still don't fully trust that their personal information is secure.

    The Consumer Internet Barometer is produced jointly by NFO WorldGroup, Forrester Research and The Conference Board. It tracks consumers' evolving usage, trust and satisfaction with the Internet over time and identifies emerging trends.

    "One striking exception to this downward trend in trust is online financial transactions," said Lynn Franco, director of the consumer research center for The Conference Board. "More than 31 percent of consumers who engage in online financial transactions trust that their personal information will be safe, compared with 27 percent almost a year ago."

    Among the findings, today's online shoppers are spending more. Nearly 31 percent of online consumers spent more than $250 in the third quarter, up from about 28 percent in the fourth quarter of last year. "The rise in average spending per individual, coupled with the increase in traffic as the holiday season approaches, should help boost online sales in the coming months," said Franco.

    More key findings:

    -- More consumers are using the Internet primarily for personal communication (36 percent) than for work-related activities (18 percent).

    -- More than 35 percent of Internet users go online daily, while an additional 15 percent go online several times a week.

    The Consumer Internet Barometer is based on a quarterly survey of 10,000 households. Return rates average 70 percent.

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