Internet 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
deals, convenience, and choice abound on the Internet. But before
you use all the Internet has to offer, be �cyber� smart to make
the most of your online experience.
on the Internet
Shopping online offers lots of benefits that you won�t find shopping
in a store or by mail. The Internet is always open � seven days
a week, 24 hours a day � and bargains can be numerous online. Shopping
on the Internet is no less safe than shopping in a store or by mail.
Keep the following tips in mind 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). These standards scramble the
purchase information you send over the Internet, helping to secure
your transaction. Most computers come with a browser installed.
You also can download some browsers for free over the Internet.
Shop 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. These should be posted on the company�s
Web site. Keep 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. Pay 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, you have the right to dispute charges
under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while
the creditor is investigating them. In the event of unauthorized
use of your credit or charge card, you generally would be held liable
only for the first $50 in charges. Some companies offer an online
shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible
for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide
additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.
Keep a record. Be sure to print a copy of your purchase order
and confirmation number for your records. Also, you should know
that the Mail and Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers online
orders. This means that unless the company states otherwise, your
merchandise must be delivered within 30 days; and if there are delays,
the company must notify you. Pay 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 secures 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
When exploring online, think ABC to remember the privacy and security
questions you should ask about a company.
me. What information does the company collect about me and is it
How does the company use that information and what is the benefit
What choices do I have about the company�s use of information about
me? Can I opt-out of having information used for other purposes,
on the Internet
Technology now provides companies with the ability to collect information
about you and potentially give or sell 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.
personal information private. Don�t disclose personal information
� such as your address, telephone number, Social Security number,
or email address � unless you know who is collecting the information,
why they are collecting it, and how they will use it. If you have
children, teach them to check with you before giving out personal
privacy policies on their Web site. This policy should disclose
what information is being collected on the Web site and how that
information is being used. Before you provide a company with personal
send an email or written message to the Web site to ask about its
policy and request that it be posted on the site. Make choices. 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 for marketing purposes
or shared with other companies. Look for this choice as part of
For More Information
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide
information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file
a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit
www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357);
TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity
theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel,
a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal
law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.