June 15, 2004 -- As identity theft worries swell and spamming goes almost unabated, consumers have developed a newfound appreciation for their privacy and those who respect it. To that end, eBay has scored high marks. The online auction house was cited as the most trusted company for privacy in a survey of more than 6,300 consumers.

The most important factor to consumers in establishing trustworthiness was overall reputation for product and service quality, according to the poll conducted by the Ponemon Institute and the nonprofit TRUSTe. Consumers also placed a high value on limits a company placed on the personal information it collected from customers. The third most appreciated quality was the use of advertisements and solicitations that respect consumer privacy.

The top ten companies on the list, in descending order, were American Express, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, Hewlett Packard, the U.S. Postal Service, IBM, Earthlink, Citibank and Dell.

Internet companies, banks and healthcare organizations have earned the greatest trust from consumers, according to the survey. The industries rating the lowest were hospitality and retail food.

When asked what they feared the most if their personal information were leaked to outside individuals or organizations, 76 percent of those surveyed said identity theft. The second biggest concern was email spam, with 58 percent listing it. Rounding out the top fears were those related to a loss of civil liberties.