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Financial Sector Leads Brands With Plunging Reputations: Harris Poll

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The U.S. economy may have exited 2011 on an upswing but it looks like the year left most Americans feeling worse about corporate America.

Just 20 percent of Americans view the corporate world positively, a new report from Harris Interactive finds. Only a handful of companies saw the public's perception of them improve, most notably Apple who received the highest score in the history of the market research firm's Reputation Quotient study.

The company was joined by Toyota, BP and General Motors for companies whose score improved this year but for the vast majority of the 60 companies included in the poll things took a turn for the worse, rather than the better. Indeed, only 9 percent of respondents said that the reputation of corporate America improved over the year, with 60 percent saying it got worse.

Financial institutions fared particularly poorly, with big banks like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase seeing some of the biggest drops in reputation. But the plunge may be not be surprising given last year's headlines.

Bank of America was mired in negative publicity last year over allegations of foreclosure abuse and improper mortgage practices and the banks attempt to charge customers $5 to use their debit cards. In 2011, BofA threatened foreclosure over an outstanding balance of $0.00, a house that no longer existed after being destroyed in Hurricane Ike and even on a building that housed one of its own branches, among others.

Likewise, BofA's reputation wasn't helped when it experienced a widespread backlash to its proposal to charge customers a $5 fee to use debit cards, a plan the bank ultimately scrapped.

Indeed, 75 percent of those polled said they saw banking as one of the problems facing the United States economy.

Here are the top 10 brands with the best reputations and the 10 brands with the biggest reputation declines, according to Harris Interactive:

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