'Tis The Holiday Shopping Season: Business Software Alliance Offers Online Shopping Tips

Internet Users Shop With Caution: Consumer Survey Shows Security Is A Major Concern

'Tis The Holiday Shopping Season: Business Software Alliance Offers Online Shopping Tips

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Internet users intend to do some holiday shopping online this year; however, their confidence in the security of the online shopping experience is a major barrier to the growth of online commerce, according to an independent survey released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). "With personal security such a big concern when shopping online, consumers need to educate themselves on how to protect themselves from dishonest vendors and other online threats," said Bob Kruger, BSA vice president for enforcement. "BSA provides consumers with the information and tips they need to shop safely online during the holiday season." The survey1 of 4,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Mexico, focused on online holiday shopping attitudes and Internet shoppers contemplating software purchases. The study found that online holiday shopping intent has remained fairly steady among confident Internet users since last year. Among this group, more than 63 percent in the United States will do at least some of their holiday shopping online, compared to 36 percent in the United Kingdom. However, the vast majority of consumers in Mexico and Japan plan to shop through more traditional routes than the Internet. Despite the fact that 63 percent of U.S. Internet users will do some of their shopping online, consumers have many security concerns about making purchases over the Internet. Approximately 75 percent of U.S. respondents are concerned a great deal or a fair amount about the following: information being sold to a third party (83 percent), information stolen from Web databases (79 percent), transmitting a credit card number (76 percent), transmitting address or personal information (77 percent) and receiving unwanted emails (72 percent). "The Better Business Bureau advises online shoppers to make their holiday purchases from reliable sites that have satisfactory marketplace records and that willingly provide customer service contacts, a written refund policy, shipping/transaction costs and security and privacy protection information," said Ken Hunter, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and BBBOnLine (www.bbbonline.org). The study also found that when it comes to purchasing software online, 75 percent in the U.S. say it is more important to obtain legitimate software than it is to save money and risk buying fraudulent products. Shoppers in Japan and Mexico responded similarly, while U.K. respondents were much less certain - half didn't know which was more important - price over legitimacy or legitimacy over price. Also, respondents did not see any of the online shopping outlets as completely safe for buying software; however, they were least concerned about purchasing software from online retailers (40 percent), rather than from discount online retailers or auction sites. The study, conducted by the independent research firm, Ipsos Public Affairs, also showed that U.S. respondents will use the Internet to purchase many different types of gifts this holiday season. Forty-three percent and 49 percent of U.S. shoppers will purchase software and computer hardware, respectively, online this year. As two of the preeminent organizations dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world, BSA and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) offer tips to online shoppers contemplating software purchases and guidance on how to improve their cyber security:
  1. Trust Your Instincts. Check the online seller's price against the estimated retail value of the software. Whether it is being sold as new or used, if a price for software seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Make Sure It's Authentic and Read the Label. Be suspicious of software products that do not include proof of authenticity, such as original disks, manuals, licensing, warranties, etc. Beware of products that do not look genuine, such as those with hand-written labels.
  3. Install Anti-Virus Software. Does your computer(s) have anti-virus software installed? Most anti-virus software includes an automatic update feature. Make sure it is activated.
  4. Beware of Back-Ups and Steer Clear of Compilations. Take special care to avoid sellers offering "back-up" copies. This is a clear indication that the software is illegal. Be wary of compilations of software titles from different publishers on a single disk or CD.
  5. Be Cyber Secure. Report cyber attacks to local law enforcement agencies and the IT provider.
  6. Do Your Homework. Check the feedback section on the auction site to find comments about the seller based on previous transactions. Look for a trust mark from a reputable organization, like BBBOnLine, that signifies the merchant has agreed to a code of business practices. Also, knowing the retailer's address, phone number or URL permits you to check for a Reliability Report with the BBB (go to www.bbb.org, look for the "Check It Out" box and click "Business").
  7. Check for Security Updates. Security updates should be checked every 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.
  8. Install a Firewall. A firewall will protect your computer(s) from unauthorized access to and use by hackers.
  9. Be Careful When Crossing the Border. Be especially cautious when dealing with software sellers in other countries. The physical distance, differences in legal systems, and other factors could complicate matters if the transaction goes awry.
  10. Report Piracy. Buyers suspecting software piracy, counterfeit software and/or fraud on auction sites should contact law enforcement agencies and BSA at 1-888-NOPIRACY or www.bsa.org/usa. For assistance in resolving a dispute with an online merchant, consumers can file a complaint at the BBB Web site (www.bbb.org).
1Survey Methodology: According to Ipsos Public Affairs (www.ipsos-pa.com), the study, which was conducted in four countries, focused on holiday shopping behavior and the Internet. The margin of error for this study, conducted in September 2003, is +/- 4 percent per country (U.S., U.K., Japan and Mexico). The Business Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the foremost organization dedicated to promoting a safe and legal digital world. BSA is the voice of the world's commercial software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members represent one of the fastest growing industries in the world. BSA educates consumers on software management and copyright protection, cyber security, trade, e-commerce and other Internet-related issues. BSA members include Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Bentley Systems, Borland, CNC Software/Mastercam, Internet Security Systems, Macromedia, Microsoft, Network Associates and Symantec. The Council of Better Business Bureaus (www.bbb.org) is the umbrella organization for the 124 BBBs that serve communities across the U.S.; another 14 BBBs serve Canada. Funded by more than 270,000 business members, the BBB system provides 25 million instances of service each year to consumers and businesses seeking information to make a wise purchasing decision or assistance with resolving marketplace disputes. BBBOnLine programs (www.bbbonline.org) offer tools and information to consumers and businesses in support of a safe online marketplace. For more information, please contact: Debbi Bauman Business Software Alliance 202-530-5132 Leanne Scott Brown Dittus Communications 202-775-1401 Holly Cherico Council of Better Business Bureaus 703-247-9311 About Ipsos Public Affairs Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective public affairs research organization made up of Democratic and Republican campaign and political polling veterans. It was established in August 2001 in Washington, D.C., and is headed by veteran pollster Thomas Riehle, who has more than 15 years of experience as a political pollster in Washington. The division conducts strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of U.S. and international organizations. Typically, the division's studies are based on opinion research, not only public opinion, but often elite stakeholder, corporate and media opinion. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research group. About Ipsos Ipsos is a leading global survey-based market research group, with revenues of 538.5 million euros in 2002. It offers a full suite of research services, guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies in advertising, marketing, public opinion and customer loyalty research, as well as forecasting and modeling. Member companies also offer a full line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services. To learn more, visit: www.ipsos.com Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris Premier Marchй, and is part of the SBF 120 and Next Prime Indices as well as eligible to the Deferred Settlement System (SRD). Euroclear code 7329, Reuters ISOS.LN, Bloomberg IPS FP

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