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Are You Prepared for Push-Button Shopping?

November 16, 2000

How much do you know about the world of online shopping? Test your knowledge by taking this quiz.

1. A thief has gotten access to your credit card number and has charged $1,000 worth of merchandise from an online site to your account. You are liable for:

a. The entire $1,000, because it was an online transaction.

b. 10% of the amount, or $100

c. $50

d. Not liable for any of the unauthorized charges.


2. When making an online purchase, experts suggest it is a good idea to retain which of the following records?:

a. A printout of the Web page(s) describing the item you ordered.

b. Printouts of any e-mail messages between you and the seller (i.e., confirmation messages).

c. A printout of the seller's Web page(s) showing the seller's name, postal address, telephone number and legal terms, including return policies.

d. All of the above


3. When ordering online, what symbol indicates that you are on a secure server site, indicating the information you are sending is encrypted?:

a. An unbroken key

b. A locked padlock

c. The Web address starts with "https:"

d. A, B or C


4. Web sites often will ask for personal information to complete a purchase, but experts advise it is unwise to supply information not needed to complete the purchase, such as:

a. Your home address

b. Your home telephone number

c. Your Social Security number

d. All of the above


5. Some Web sites use ---------- to enable shoppers to comparison shop for different prices.

a. Bots

b. Personal shoppers

c. Personal ads

d. Online counselors


6. Under the law, a company must ship your order within the time stated in its ads. If no time frame is stated, the company must ship your order in:

a. 15 days

b. 30 days

c. 45 days

d. 60 days


7. Experts suggest purchasing from vendors that you know. One way to check a vendor's reliability is to get its location and check for consumer complaints with the:

a. Federal Trade Commission

b. Better Business Bureau

c. State attorney general

d. All of the above


8. You've received an e-mail that promises you can get rich quick. You think it's spam but aren't sure. Should you open the message?

A. Yes. Opening it up is the only way to confirm your suspicion. And even if it is spam, the message might contain instructions on how to remove your name from the spammer's list.

B. No. Delete the message. Sometimes simply opening the message can generate a "return receipt" reply to the spammer, verifying that your e-mail is active. Often they will then add your e-mail address to a spam mailing list.


9. Your 11-year-old is surfing the Net and spots an offer for a free action figure to anyone who registers at the Web site. The registration form asks for his name, age, e-mail address, phone number, parents' names and his favorite television show. What should your child do before providing the information?

A. Exercise his own discretion --it's an important lesson.

B. Ask his 13-year-old sister for help before providing information.

C. Ask for your permission before giving personal information to any Web site.


10. While online you receive an e-mail from a representative of your service provider asking for your account password to fix a system bug. Should you give your password?

A. Yes. You want the problem fixed right away. The message sounds official.

B. No. Never give your account password to anyone, even if he or she claims to be from your online service provider. Most providers won't ask for your password online because it should always be kept private.

The Answers

1. C. Under federal law, if you have an unauthorized charge on your credit card, you are liable for only $50. In some cases, card issuers and/or Web site operators may waive that amount.

2. D. All of the above. It is a good idea to keep print and/or electronic copies of information about your order.

3. D. Any of the three items indicates a secure server.

4. C. For online purchases, it is usually not necessary to supply a Social Security number.

5. A. Many Web sites use bots, automated search agents, to search for products from different vendors so users can compare prices.

6. B. Under federal law, a company must ship your order within 30 days after receiving it or give you an "option notice," which allows you to agree to the delay or cancel the order and receive a prompt refund.

7. D. The FTC and BBB's Web sites both offer information on merchants, as well as tips on avoiding problems shopping online. State attorneys general can tell you if a company has a complaint lodged against it.

8. B. Delete the message immediately.

9. C. Your children should ask for your permission before giving information to any Web site.

10. B. Never give your password out to strangers.


Sources: Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau,, Times research.

Researched by NONA YATES /

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