In an independent study, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ranked as the fourth most trusted company in the United States, as well as the "Most Trusted Government Agency" for the 7th year in a row.
The 2012 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy Study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, not by the USPS, evaluated 704 companies from 25 industry sectors on their commitment to protecting their customers' information.
For the study, more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers were asked to name up to five companies they believed to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information.
According to USPS consumer advocate Krista Finazzo, the results showed that customers considered the Postal Service one of the best companies in ensuring the safety and security of their personal information.
The top three most trusted companies in the survey were American Express, Hewlett Packard and Amazon. Tied for fourth were the U.S. Postal Service and IBM. The Postal Service had ranked sixth in the 2011 survey.
"We are honored to be among the top five most trusted companies in the country. Our employees work hard each day to maintain that trust," said Finazzo in a press release. "We know our customers depend on the security of the mail and they trust and expect the Postal Service to protect their privacy."
Basically, said Finazzo, it's because Americans trust their letter carriers. "Despite the vast size of the Postal Service's network and scope of operations, many customers know their letter carriers by name and see them as welcomed and trusted members of the local community they serve each day," she said.
"Consumer confidence in the mail is a priority for the Postal Service," added Finazzo. "Each day we process nearly 40 percent of the world's mail to more addresses in a larger geographical region than any other postal service in the world. Customers expect us to protect the privacy of their personal information. We do not take this responsibility lightly."
Company AND Agency?
How can the USPS be rated as both a company and a government agency? Under the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, the USPS became something in between a government agency and a company. Like a private sector company, the USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and must support itself solely from sales of its products and services. But like a government agency, the USPS pays no federal, state or local taxes and enjoys several other advantages not available to private sector companies.