Tip 10 – Examine privacy policies and seals.

When you are considering whether or not to do business with a Web site, there are other factors than a secure connection you have to consider that are equally important to Web security. Does the site provide offline contact information, including a postal address? Does the site have a prominently-posted privacy policy? If so, what does it say? (Just because they call it a “privacy policy” doesn’t mean it will protect you – read it for yourself. Many are little more than disclaimers saying that you have no privacy! So read them carefully.) If the policy sounds OK to you, do you have a reason to believe it? Have you ever heard of this company? What is their reputation? And are they backing up their privacy statement with a seal program such as TRUSTe ( http://www.truste.org/ ) or BBBonline ( http://www.bbbonline.org/ )? (While imperfect, such programs hold Web sites to at least some minimal baseline standards, and may revoke, with much fanfare, the approval-seal licenses of bad-acting companies that do not keep their word.) If you see a seal, is it real? Check with the seal-issuing site to make sure the seal isn’t a fake. And examine terms carefully, especially if you are subscribing to a service rather than buying a product. Look out for auto-rebilling scams and hidden fees.

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