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  • Try to resolve the dispute with the merchant directly
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Home / Privacy / Shopping / Tips / Know Your Merchant

Know Your Merchant

When shopping online deal only with reputable merchants and only give out enough information to make the purchase. Use these tips to learn how to identify reputable companies and how to read a privacy policy.

  1. Deal with reputable companies (companies you already know from their retail stores, mail order catalogs or other services).
    • At a minimum be sure that you have the company's physical address (preferably not a PO Box) and a telephone number so that you can contact them offline.
    • See if the site is a member of a privacy seal program, for example BBBonline, CPAWebTrust or TRUSTe.
    • Check with your state Attorney General for any adverse reports of the company you are dealing with. (Be aware that information on some companies that may be fraudulent is not always available if they are new.)
  2. Read the Web Site Privacy Policy
    • Although sometimes very lengthy, the privacy policy provides important information about the information that the business collects about you, how it is used and whether they have taken reasonable security precautions to protect you from credit card fraud. (Reasonable security precautions include: encrypting your credit card and other personal information during your transaction, the merchant keeping your personal information in its computers encrypted, allowing you to block personal information from being shared with other people or companies). More information on reading privacy policies.
  3. Only give out information that is necessary for the transaction.
    • If you are unsure of the credibility and security of the Web site or why the information is needed, don't divulge any personal information such as your credit card number, Social Security number, phone number or address.
    • To clarify any uncertainties you may have about Web site's security or privacy policy, contact the company by phone and ask questions about these issues.
  4. Make sure you are on the Web site of the company that you want to do business with. Online crooks can create Web site names (URL's) very similar to those of legitimate companies.
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