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Should You Worry About Buying Online?

Privacy Statement

The Internet has revolutionized commerce. Now you can buy almost anything imaginable online - clothing, books, homes, cars, antiques - at any time of day or night, without leaving the comfort of your home or the confines of your office. This new purchasing power offers convenience and flexibility, but is it safe to use?

It is an important question to ask. After all, how do you know if a web site belongs to a legitimate merchant or to a shady operator? How can you be sure your credit card number and personal information will not be stolen while you are making online purchases?

Many of us fear Internet identity theft, although on a daily basis we hand our credit cards to people in the retail and service industries across the world. Think about the number of times you have given your credit card to a waiter you do not know, to a salesperson in a vacation town you are passing through, or to someone on the phone at a catalog company. Any time you use your credit card - in person, over the phone, or online - there is some risk that your card number will be misappropriated.

Credit card companies know this, of course, and they understand that for the system to work and for individuals to use their cards freely, they must reduce consumer risk. As a measure against fraud, credit card companies limit your liability to $50 for any unauthorized use of your card, and most companies will waive even that fee.

Companies selling merchandise and services online also realize that consumers need similar assurances that their personal information is safe and will not fall into the wrong hands. Currently, there are systems in place that make using your credit card over the Internet even safer than handing it to a waitress at that corner diner.

How can you tell if it is safe to buy? First you need to make sure you have a secure connection. It is easy to determine if your connection is secure; for example, when you use Netscape, a picture of a padlock appears in the lower left corner of the Navigator window. A closed lock indicates a secure connection, which means that any information exchanged between you and the web site will be encrypted (scrambled). Conversely, an open lock indicates an unprotected connection, which means that any information you transmit could be intercepted by a third party.

How does the closed-lock connection work? When you establish a secure connection, the downloaded web site sends a digital certificate to your copy of Navigator. When this certificate arrives, it contains a public key, which functions as a one-way encryption device. The browser then uses this key to scramble your personal data before sending it over the Internet. Information encrypted with the public key cannot be decrypted without the corresponding private key, which only the merchant has. Without this exclusive, private key, your personal information cannot be read.

The second way to ensure you have a secure connection is to make purchases from merchants you know and trust. Here again, the digital certificate is important. In addition to encrypting the data you send over the Internet, the certificate can be used to confirm the identity of a web site's owner (in this case, the merchant).

Let's say you are ordering a product from The Lamination Station. When viewing the order page, you will see the closed-lock icon in the browser's bottom left corner, indicating the secure connection. Click on this icon, and it opens a "Security Info" window that provides encryption details. Select "View Certificate," and it will identify the certificate issuer as well as the shopping cart software site's secure server,

Please note that regular email is not encrypted and is not considered a secure means of transmitting credit card numbers.

Here at The Lamination Station, we want your shopping experience to be as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Our site uses SSL Encryption to keep your personal and credit card information from being stolen as it travels over the Internet. In fact, we are so confident in our security measures that we back every purchase with the following safe shopping guarantee:

1. If you experience fraudulent use of your credit card as a result of shopping at The Lamination Station, simply notify your credit card provider in accordance with its reporting rules and procedures. Most banks will either cover all of the fraudulent purchases or hold you liable for a maximum of $50.

2. If, through no fault of your own, your credit card provider finds credit card fraud but holds you liable for some portion of the unauthorized charges, The Lamination Station will reimburse you for the remaining liability up to a maximum of $50, provided your purchase was made through our secure server.

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