Security On Internet

     Internet has become an essential tool for daily tasks. The options people have
nowadays are limitless: banking, shopping, booking reservations, chatting, and
so on. However, several drawbacks have arisen that are of concern to all of the
internet users. Unfortunately, incidents of auction fraud, the sale of illegal
items, and criminal trespassing are booming in the e-commerce market. The nature
of the Internet and the ease of gaining anonymity on it, has made crime easy and
catching criminals much more difficult. Many cases of fraud have occurred:
people who collect payments from buyers and never ship the goods to them.

"Earlier in the summer, for example, former eBay seller Robert Guest pleaded
guilty to mail fraud. Prosecutors had accused Guest of collecting approximately
$37,000 from bidders for items he never shipped." 1 Cases like these are a
real drawback for e-commerce. The lack of tangibility has been a major obstacle
in doing transactions online and these cases only serve to destroy the little
confidence that consumers have gained so far. Many people are hesitant to shop
online, for example, and when they hear of fraud cases it only serves to confirm
their initial fears. That is why organizations such as The Better Business

Bureau (BBB) and The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are educating consumers to
protect themselves. These agencies know that thousands of consumers are taking
advantage of the opportunity to shop from the comfort of their homes via
personal computers. A person can buy anything and avoid crowded malls, long
lines and busy parking lots. Furthermore, the Internet is always open: 7 days a
week, 24 hours a day. In order to actually benefit from online shopping, certain
things must be taken into consideration. The BBBís Web site contains a section
that offers tips on "What You Need to Know About Cybershopping." 2 The tips
are the following: ∑ When dealing with a new merchant, ask for its physical
location in order to check its reliability with consumer agencies (i.e. The

BBB). ∑ Determine the companyís refund and return policy before you place an
order. ∑ Never give out your Internet password. When creating a password avoid
using established numbers, such as your house number, birth date, telephone
number or Social Security number. If you are asked to create a new account,
never use the same password you use for other accounts. ∑ Be cautious if you
are asked to provide personal information (i.e. Social Security number or bank
account information). ∑ Look at the "address" of the site, the URL ensures
that you are dealing with the right company. It is good to print out a copy of
your order and confirmation number for your records. ∑ Know your rights. The
same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply when you shop
online. Under the law, a company must ship your order within the time stated in
its ads. If no time is promised, the company should ship your order within 30
days after receiving it, or give you an "option notice." ∑ If you decide to
pay by credit card or charge card, 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
consumerís credit card or charge card, consumers are generally held liable
only for the first $50 in charges." 3 If you are not comfortable entering your
credit card or charge account number online, call it in to the companyís 800
number or fax it. The FTC also contains a section which offers consumers tips on
online safety. In addition to the ones made by the BBB, The FTC also suggests
that: ∑ Use a secure browser. This is the software that you use to navigate the

Internet. Your browser should comply with industry security standards, such as

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Secure Electronic Transaction (SET). These
standards scramble the purchase information you send over the Internet, ensuring
the security of your transactions. Most computers come with a browser already
installed or you can download one over the Internet for free. ∑ Before signing
up for any service or buying any product, evaluate how the company is securing
your financial and personal information. Many companies explain their security
procedures on their Web site. Other companies give you options on their Web site
as to whether and how your personal information is used. Trespassing and
unsolicited e-mails Another main concern on the Internet is the trespassing.

Bulk e-mails are flooding our systems everyday. The main problem with these
unsolicited e-mails is that most of the times they are scams. The FTC made a
list that highlights the 12 scams that are most likely to arrive via bulk
e-mail. 1 Business opportunities. These e-mails make it sound very easy to start
a business that will bring lots of income without much work or cash. The scam:
they are usually illegal pyramid schemes. 2 Bulk e-mail. You receive offers to
sell you lists of e-mail addresses for your own bulk solicitations. The problem:
sending bulk e-mails violates the terms of most internet service providers. In
addition, some states have laws regulating the sending of unsolicited e-mail. 3

Chain letters. Youíre asked to send a small amount of money to each of 4 or 5
names on a list, replace the names on the list with your own and forward. The
scam: chain letters are almost always illegal and most of the people who you
forward the message to, are not likely to pay. 4 Work-at-home schemes. These are
envelope-stuffing solicitations that promise steady income for minimal labor. In
most of the cases you have to send money for a start-up kit. The problem is that
once you pay the money, you either never hear from them again, or you receive a
kit that is clearly not worth the amount of money that you mailed. 5 Health and
diet scams. These e-mails offer pills that will let you loose weight without
exercise or changing your diet; cures for impotence or hair loss. The scam is
that these gimmicks donít work. 6 Effortless income. Typically a"get-rich-quick" scheme that offers unlimited profits. The problem is that
these systems donít really work. If they did, wouldnít everybody be rich? 7

Free goods. You are offered valuable goods for free after gaining a certain type
membership that you have to pay for. In reality, the goods arenít free and in
some of the cases you donít even receive the goods. 8 Investment opportunity.

You are offered outrageously high returns with no risk. You usually have to send
money and after you do, you never hear from these people again. 9 Cable"descrambler" kits. For a small amount of money you can buy a kit to
assemble a cable descrambler that supposedly allows you to receive cable TV
transmission without paying any subscription. The scam: itís not going to work
and you canít even complain to authorities because you were engaging in
something illegal by trying to steal cable service. 10 Guaranteed loans or
credit, on easy terms. This turns out to be a useless list of lenders who will
turn you down if you donít meet their qualifications. 11 Credit repair. These
are offers to erase negative information from your credit file. The people who
promote these services usually canít deliver and they can in fact get you in
trouble with the law because the advice you to lie on loan/credit applications
or to misrepresent your Social Security number. 12 Vacation prize promotions.

Typically you win a fabulous vacation. The truth is that this is an easy way to
collect information form you, for marketing purposes. Also, most of the times
you end up paying for specific dates and upgrading. 4 There are however, ways in
which to eliminate or at least reduce the amount of bulk e-mails that are sent
to you. In most of the cases you can remove yourself from the senderís mailing
list. In addition there are organizations that are formed with the purpose of
filtering information. One of the most known organizations is TRUSTe. TRUSTe is
an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to build usersí trust
and confidence in the Internet by promoting the use of fair information
practices. OptList is a Web site designed to filter the information that you
receive via e-mail. Its privacy practices have been reviewed for compliance by

TRUSTe. OptList wants to demonstrate its commitment to consumer privacy. By
displaying the TRUSTe trustmark, this web site has agreed to notify Internet
users of: 1. What personal or identifiable information is being collected from
the web user 2. The organization collecting the information. 3. How the
information is used. 4. With whom the information may be shared. 5. What choices
are available to you regarding collection, use and distribution of the
information. 6. The kind of security procedures that are in place to protect the
loss, misuse or alteration of information under OptList, Inc. control. 7. How
you can correct any inaccuracies in the information. 5 The OptList Web site is
committed to filtering the information that you do not want. "Our mission is
to help reduce the unsolicited e-mail traffic on the Internet. To help consumers
gain control over the flow of unsolicited e-mail into their inboxes. To help

ISPs gain control over the flow of unsolicited e-mail into their mail servers
and to help marketers comply with the preferences of consumers and ISPs." 6

Companies can really make a difference in addressing consumers needs. There are
many tools available out there in order to protect consumers from Internet scams
and fraudulent deals. The important thing is to be well informed and use common


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