Online Attachments and Screen Savers May Spread More
Than Good Cheer This Season [24th November
ATLANTA, Nov 24, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall
via Comtex/ -- With online shopping expected to increase
by more than 21 percent this holiday season, according
to Jupiter Research's 2003 holiday forecast, EarthLink
(ELNK) , one of the nation's leading Internet service
providers, is providing safety advice for online holiday
"Holiday attachments, screen savers
and Web sites may spread more than good cheer this season,"
said Les Seagraves, chief privacy officer for EarthLink.
"With more and more shoppers going online this
season, consumers should use extra caution to safeguard
their computers, credit card numbers and personal information.
Just because the holiday season is upon us, it doesn't
mean criminals and hackers have taken a break from their
Consumer complaints about Internet fraud
have increased substantially this year, according to
the Internet Fraud Complaint Center, a partnership between
the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National
White Collar Crime Center. Already this year, the Internet
Fraud Complaint Center has received more than 106,000
complaints, a 40 percent increase over the total number
of complaints the agency received last year.
With this in mind, EarthLink's Seagraves
recommended several tips for consumers to protect themselves
online this holiday season:
1. Shop only from trusted online retailers
with secure Web sites. Look
for the locked symbol at the bottom of a browser to
ensure that a
Web site is protected from hackers and thieves, and
make sure your
information will be encrypted during payment.
2. Don't respond to emails from online retailers, ISPs
or other Web sites
asking for your credit card number or other personal
These messages may be phisher site spams, emails that
look like they
come from a legitimate company but which are in fact
messages intended to steal a consumer's personal information.
more information on phisher site spams, please
http://www.earthlink.net/about/press/phisher/ ) Report
fraudulent or suspicious email to your provider, and
retailer directly if you think there's a question regarding
3. Look for the shipping and return policies on a Web
site, as well as a
retailer's physical location, phone number and email
sure the retailer clearly states the policies, terms
4. Look for a privacy statement. Before you buy online,
look for a
privacy statement that says whether the site shares
outside parties and whether or not you can refuse to
about you collected or shared.
5. Be wary of holiday-themed email attachments, downloads
savers. They may have embedded viruses or malicious
code like spyware.
Spyware is a rapidly proliferating type of software
secretly forwards information about a computer user's
activities to another individual or company without
knowledge or permission. Left undetected, it may lead
identity and personal information theft, computer corruption
exposure to annoying pop-up ads.
Seagraves noted that the EarthLink Personal
StartPage ( www.start.earthlink.net ) would be providing
seasonal gift ideas as well as secure links to online
retail partners. "With a little extra caution,
consumers can enjoy all the convenience and benefits
of shopping online this holiday season."
Federal Trade Commission: Going Shopping?
Go Global! A Guide for E- Consumers, and Holiday Shopping
Online? (news release, Nov. 7, 2003)
Federal Bureau of Information: For the
Family: Tips on Internet Scams Internet Fraud Complaint
"EarthLink revolves around you(sm)."
As a leading national Internet service provider (ISP)
headquartered in Atlanta, EarthLink has earned an award
winning reputation for outstanding customer service
and its suite of online products and services. According
to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Internet Service
Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study(SM),
EarthLink is ranked highest in customer satisfaction
among high-speed Internet Service Providers. Serving
approximately five million subscribers, EarthLink offers
what every user should expect from their Internet experience:
high- quality connectivity, minimal drop-offs and ISP-generated
intrusions, and customizable features. Whether it's
dial-up, high-speed, Web hosting, or wireless Internet
service, EarthLink provides the tools that best let
individuals use and enjoy the Internet on their own
terms. Learn more about EarthLink by calling (800) EARTHLINK
or visiting EarthLink's Web site at www.earthlink.net
Carla Shaw of EarthLink, +1-404-748-7436,
+1-404-849-1140, or email@example.com; or Deanna
Anderson of Manning,
Selvage & Lee, for EarthLink, +1-404-870-6834, or
cell, +1-404-759-1890, or