Saturday, May 23, 2009

Protecting You and Your Spouse on the Internet


• Always select a gender-neutral username for your e-mail address or for chat, etc. Do not pick something cute, such as or use your first name if it is obviously female. Since the majority of online victims are female, this is what harassers look for.
• Keep your primary e-mail address private. Use your primary e-mail address only for people you know and trust.
• Get a free e-mail account and use that for all of your other online activity and be sure to select a gender-neutral username. There are many free e-mail providers, such as Hotmail, Goggle, and Yahoo!.
• Do not fill out profiles. When you sign up for an e-mail account, whether it is through your Internet Service Provider (such as Comcast) or a free provider (such as Yahoo!), fill out as little information about yourself as possible. The same goes for personal profiles in Instant Messenger programs and chat rooms as well.
• Do block or ignore unwanted users. Whether you are in a chat room or using Instant Messenger, you should always use the block and ignore options available to you. It is always better to ignore an harasser than to confront them.
• Do not defend yourself. Yes, this is the most common reaction when someone begins harassing you online. Most people naturally want to defend themselves, but a reaction from you is just what the harasser wants. The perpetrator is searching for someone to harass, so do not fall for their bait. When you reply to them, you are letting them know that you are upset, which is exactly what they want. Even though it might seem difficult to do, ignore these perpetrators. When they realize that they are not bothering you, they will go on to the next chat room, newsgroup, etc and try to find another victim.
• Never give your password to anyone. Your Internet Service Provider will never ask you for your password.
• Never provide any identifying information(full name, address, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc)
• Be very cautious about putting pictures of yourself, your children, or anyone else you are close to.
• Type anything online that you would not say to someone in person!
• Delete harassing messages, IM conversations, etc. Either print a copy or place them in a folder on your hard drive or disk. WHY?? This information can be helpful in finding the identity of your harasser (if unknown) & be evidence in a case (criminal or judicial).

Shopping Online

· 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. Use a passphrase that has been described before. Don’t use the same one for all accounts.
· 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 event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you are generally 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 federal Mail/Telephone Order Merchandise Rule covers online orders. This means that unless states otherwise, 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 and ask.


· 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 policy. Many companies with privacy practices post their privacy policy 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, check its privacy policy. If you can't find a policy, 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 the company's privacy policy.

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