The 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 favorite stock.
Good deals, convenience and choices abound on the Internet. But before you use all the
Internet has to offer, be cybersmart and make your online experience safe.
Easy as ABC
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 how?
Security 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.
Use 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
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.
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, 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.
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 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
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 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.
Privacy 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.
Keep 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.
Look for a company's online privacy
on the Web site and how that information is being used. Before you provide a company with
or 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
For More Information
This brochure was prepared by:
For information about the American Express
Company and its Customer Internet Privacy Statement--which provides a full description
of Web site security, information collection and use, and how to decline email
Call For Action, Inc. is an international,
non-profit network of consumer hotlines affiliated with local broadcast partners.
Volunteers assist, educate, and solve consumer problems through free and confidential
mediation. Help is available to individuals, small businesses, and the hearing and speech
impaired via text telephone. The ABC's of Privacy, which describes how consumers can
protect their personal privacy online, can be accessed at www.callforaction.org. You also
can contact Call For Action at 5272 River Road, Suite 300, Bethesda, Maryland, 20816;
The Consumer Information Center publishes the
Consumer Information Catalog, which lists more than 200 publications from a variety of
federal agencies. You can access the Catalog and the full-text of all its publications at
www.pueblo.gsa.gov. You also can contact CIC for a free Catalog at: Consumer Information
Catalog, Pueblo, CO 81009; (719) 948-4000.
The Direct Marketing Association is a trade
association of catalogers, financial services firms, publishers, book and music clubs,
online service companies, and others involved in direct and database marketing. The DMA's
Mail Order Action Line acts as an intermediary between consumers and companies to resolve
complaints. It can be contacted at 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C.
20036. Or, you can contact The DMA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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 any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP
(1-877-382-4357), or use the online
complaint form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, and other fraud-related
complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds
of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
|FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
Published by American Express Company in cooperation with Call For
Action, The Consumer Information Center, and The Direct Marketing Association. Information
was prepared with the assistance of The Federal Trade Commission. This document may be
reproduced for nonprofit educational purposes.
© 1998, American Express Company, Consumer Affairs Office, 801
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20004