Are We Afraid Of The Internet?
Are American's losing faith in the Internet? Are Internet users doing enough to stop fraud and deception on the web?
According to CNN, half of the population of the United States have used the Internet at one time or another with an additional 18% wanting to utilize it in the future. This adds up to 68% of the population potentially being online in the near future and with this increase comes an increase in security hazards.
In fact, in the first six months of 2005 Symantec, an online giant in security software, documented almost 11,000 new viruses and computer worms that attack Windows Operating System. This represents a 48% increase from the previous six months.
But the public is being cautious, experts say. According to a national survey and report prepared by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, almost one third of Internet users said that they were cutting back their online usage. This survey yielded some other interesting statistics:
53% suggested that they have stopped giving out personal information on the Internet
25% say they have stopped buying products online
29% of those who are online shoppers said that they have cut back in how often they buy products online
Furthermore, the survey suggests that 80% of Internet users are concerned someone could steal their identity and personal information from the Internet. In fact, Internet fraud is expected to cost 2.8 billion dollars in 2005, an increase of 200 million dollars from 2004.
With all this being said, what can the Internet user do if they are the victim of fraud? Where do they go to file an Internet fraud complaint?
The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)was established in 1992 by the National Consumers League which continues to fund the organization. Consumers can use an online form to register an Interent fraud complaint at www.fraud.org/
The Better Business Bureau Online offers Internet consumers the option to file a complaint against e-merchants as well as offline businesses. They can be found at www.bbbonline.org/consumer/complaint.asp
An international site, econsumer.gov was launched by a coalition of thirteen countries and will register cross border e-commerce complaints and offers tips for safe online shopping. Their web site is: www.econsumer.gov
Web users can contact their individual state attorney general office if they feel they have been a victim of consumer fraud in the state they reside.
The Federal Trade Commision maintains a complaint database called "Consumer Sentinel". This database is designed to provide law enforcement agencies with information regarding telemarketing scams, Internet cons as well as other consumer related fraud complaints. It is available to forty federal law enforcement agencies, more than 200 state and local fraud fighting agencies and to every state attorney general in the United States. You can reach the complaint database at: www.consumer.gov/sentinel/index.html
Is this reluctancy to utilize the Internet a growing trend? Have the hackers and spyware community won the battle? It depends on who you ask and which survey you tend to believe. Internet users can be safe online with the proper security precautions, spyware software and a little computer common sense.
About the Author: Robert Benson operates http://www.ezshoppinghere.com a web site devoted to finding unique gifts and merchandise in unique places. Robert writes articles on a variety of topics.