A new US study has found American Express is the most trusted of all companies operating online.
The study of 100,000 adults (pdf) was conducted by research firm The Ponemon Institute and ranked 217 companies on their perceived trustworthiness.
New entrants in the top 20 list included software giant Microsoft, as well as Mozilla, developer of the popular Firefox browser.
Hewlett Packard, IBM, Amazon and eBay rounded out the top ten trusted companies, while Apple fell outside the top ten ranks.
While the study was US-based, consumers polled felt healthcare companies were among the most trustworthy, while internet, social media and toy companies were considered the least likely to respect individual privacy online.
Individuals polled expressed the paradoxical position of both sharing their information online (63 percent) with an organisation they were unfamiliar with or did not trust, yet they also ranked personal privacy as being very important to them.
The overall favouring of personal empowerment over individual information has been on a downward trend, the report found, with only 35 percent of respondents feeling they had control of their information online.
Privacy policies also come under the spotlight, with 60 percent of respondents finding them either too complicated or too full of legalese.