Industry groups urge care when holiday shopping

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Business Software Alliance and the Better Business Bureau are offering a list of 10 tips on how consumers can protect themselves from dishonest vendors and other online threats.

The publication last month of the 10 tips coincided with the release of a survey sponsored by the BSA, which found that more than 63% of U.S. respondents expect to do at least some of their holiday shopping online.

Despite the high number of shoppers, 75% of all U.S. respondents are concerned about the safety of their private information. A full 83% fear that their details will be sold to a third party, 79% are concerned that information will be stolen from Web databases, and 72% are unhappy about the prospect of receiving unwanted e-mails.

The survey polled 4,000 consumers in the U.S., U.K., Japan and Mexico. Only 36% of respondents in the U.K. said they would do their holiday shopping online, while the majority of consumers in Mexico and Japan plan to shop through more traditional routes.

Among the shopping tips (for software consumers) are:

* Check the online seller's price against the estimated retail value of the software. If a price for software seems too good to be true, it probably is.

* Be suspicious of software products that do not include proof of authenticity, such as original disks, manuals, licensing and warranties.

* Check the feedback section on the auction site to find comments about the seller based on previous transactions.

* Security updates should be checked very 30 days for programs installed on computers and operating systems. Allow for automatic updating and/or subscribe to a notification service provided by the vendor.

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