Personal Information - Online Safety
Identity fraud occurs when someone uses your name or
personal information, such as your social security number, driver's license
number, credit card number, telephone number or other account numbers
without your permission. Identity thieves use this information to open
credit accounts, bank accounts, telephone service accounts, and make major
purchases--all in your name.
Two Top Tips:
1. Be cautious about emails offering to help you get a loan. Many unsolicited
emails are fraudulent.
2. Do business with licensed companies. Ask your state banking or finance
department about the licensing requirements for lenders and loan brokers,
and find out if the company has complied.
Shop Online Safely
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
Good 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.
General Security 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.
- 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). 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
EASY AS ABC
When exploring online, think ABC to remember the privacy and security
questions you should ask about a company.
About me. What information
does the company collect about me and is it secure?
Benefits. How does the
company use that information and what is the benefit to me?
Choices. 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, and how?
Privacy 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
- Keep 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 – or family – information online.
their 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 information,
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
IMPORTANT: Also see Credit Scam.