Shop Safely Online
is an exciting tool that puts vast information at your fingertips. With
a click of a mouse, it lets you buy an airline ticket, book a hotel, send
flowers to a friend, or purchase your favorite stock.
convenience and choices abound on the Internet. But before you use all
the Internet has to offer, be cybersmart and make your online experience
When exploring online, think ABC to remember the privacy
and security questions you should ask about a company.
bout me. What information does the company collect about
me and is it secure?
enefits. How does the company use that information and
what is the benefit to me?
hoices. What choices do I have about the company's use
of information about me? Can I opt-out of information uses and
on the Internet
Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you won't
find shopping in a store or by mail. For example, the Internet is always
open - seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And, bargains can be numerous
online. Shopping on the Internet also can be as safe as shopping in a
store or by mail. Keep in mind the following tips to help ensure that
your online shopping experience is a safe one.
a secure browser.
This is the software you use to navigate the Internet.
Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as Secure
Sockets Layer (SSL) or SET Secure Electronic Transaction. These standards
encrypt or scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet,
ensuring the security of your transaction. Most computers come with a
browser already installed. You also can download some browsers for free
over the Internet.
with companies you know.
Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. If
you're not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or brochure
to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also, determine
the company's refund and return policies before you place your order.
your password(s) private.
Be creative when you establish a password, and never give
it to anyone. Avoid using a telephone number, birth date, or a portion
of your Social Security number. Instead, use a combination of numbers,
letters, and symbols.
by credit or charge card.
If you pay by credit or charge card online, your transaction
will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Under this law, consumers
have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily
withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the case
of unauthorized use of a consumer's credit or charge card, consumers are
generally held liable only for the first $50 in charges. Some cards may
provide additional warranty or purchase protection benefits.
Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order and confirmation
number for your records. Also, you should know that the federal Mail or
Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers orders made via the Internet.
This means that unless stated otherwise, merchandise must be delivered
within 30 days, and if there are delays, the company must notify you.
your bills online.
Some companies let you pay bills and check your account
status online. Before you sign up for any service, evaluate how the company
is securing your financial and personal information. Many companies explain
their security procedures on their Web site. If you don't see a security
description, call or email the company and ask.
on the Internet
Technology now provides companies with the ability to
collect information about you and potentially give that information to
others. While the Internet can serve as a tremendous resource for information,
products and services, you should be sure to safeguard your privacy online
by following these tips.
your personal information private.
Don't disclose personal information--such as your address,
telephone number, Social Security number or email address--unless you
know who's collecting the information, why they're collecting it and how
they'll use it. If you have children, teach them to check with you before
giving out personal or family information online.
Many companies with privacy practices post their privacy
information is being collected on the Web site and how that information
is being used. Before you provide a company with personal information,
written message to the Web site to ask about its policy and request that
it be posted on the site.
Many companies give you a choice on their Web site as
to whether and how your personal information is used. These companies
allow you to decline--or "opt-out" of--having personal information,
such as your email address, used or shared with other companies. Look