GLOSSARY

Advance fee fraud is a confidence scheme or trick where the victim is persuaded to advance relatively small amounts of money with the promise of making a much larger amount. 419 scams are a common form of this type of fraud.

Internet bots (short for robots) are computer programs that run automated tasks over the Internet. They are used to fetch and analyze information from Web Sites and servers faster than any human can. They can be used to catalogue Web sites for fast searching or do comparison shopping to find the lowest price on an item you are looking for. Malicious bots can be used to hijack unprotected computers, recruiting them in to botnets that launch spam email campaigns, denial-of-service attacks or online fraud schemes.

Buyer protection policies are policies offered by companies to help buyers recover funds from sellers who do not deliver promised goods or who send products that are not as described online. They provide an additional safety measure for online shoppers.

Cookies, also known as Web cookies or HTTP cookies, are simple pieces of text information created by a Web server and sent to a Web browser (such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox) on the user's computer and stored to be resent when the server is accessed again. Cookies are often used legitimately by sites to track a user's visit ("shopping carts") for example, often use cookies to store items the user is considering purchasing). While cookies are incapable of performing any operation alone, they have been of concern for Internet privacy since they can be used to track browsing behavior and maintain specific information about users without their consent. For example, they can be used to track your surfing habits without your knowledge and target advertising to you accordingly. Most browsers have settings allowing users to decide if they want to accept cookies. Rejecting cookies makes some legitimate Web Sites unusable, however.

The three Credit Bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) collect and collate financial information about consumers and sell that information in the form of a Credit Reports and Credit Scores to creditors, landlords and even potential employers. A Credit Score quantifies the relative credit worthiness of a consumer.

Escrow services are businesses which facilitate e-commerce by holding payment from a buyer until they receive and approve merchandise from a seller. When the buyer confirms receipt of their purchase the escrow service forwards the payment to the seller. This service is typically used for expensive items, and buyers typically are charged a fee for this service.

Extended fraud watch (extended fraud alert) - An alert you can have put on your credit report if you have been a victim of identity theft and have submitted an identity theft report with the consumer reporting company. Resulting from this alert:

    You are eligible for two free credit reports within 12 months from each of the three consumer reporting companies.
    Your name will be removed from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years.
    When businesses see the alert on your credit report, they must verify your identity before they issue you credit. To reduce delays in obtaining credit, you may wish to include a cell phone number in your alert.

A keylogger is a surveillance tool used to monitor all the keys typed on a keyboard. It is either a software program or a hardware device that logs each key typed. The record can be monitored by the person who installed the device or program. They are sometimes used by employers to monitor employees' computer usage. They can also be installed maliciously through a Trojan horse or spyware, allowing your information to be transmitted to a third party. Because they monitor keystrokes, the can allow someone to find your passwords, account numbers and other information you may not wish others to know about.

Malware, short for malicious software, is a general term used to encompass all software that is designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system or network without the user's knowledge or consent. This includes viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, etc. Basically malware means bad software that you don't want. See our Safeguarding Your Computer page to learn how to protect your computer.

Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a business model that uses salespeople to both sell products and recruit additional salespeople from whose sales they will then earn a royalty. New salespeople are often required to pay for their own marketing materials, or to buy a significant amount of inventory. Illegal pyramid schemes follow a similar model but, instead of generating commissions from the sale of products, they generate their income by taking advantage of the salespeople themselves (by requiring salespeople to buy more than they can be expected to sell, for example).

Personally identifiable information or personally identifying information (PII) is any information that could potentially be used to identify, locate or contact a specific person. Examples include name, social security number, date and place of birth, address, phone number, sex, race, mother's maiden name, financial information, medical, criminal and educational or employment history. Protecting PII has become more important in an age where the Internet and information technology have made collection and reselling of this data easy and profitable.

Phishers are people who engage in phishing, which is described on our Web Site at Phishing & Spoofing.

A secure server is a Web server that uses the industry standard Secure Sockets Layered protocol (SSL, designated in your browser address bar as HTTPS) or the much less used Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (designated S-HTTP) to encrypt and decrypt data so that third parties cannot tamper with sensitive information. The SSL protocol has been described as a secret handshake between a Web browser and a Web server: essentially, the browser will only talk to the server after the server has proven that it knows the handshake. Making purchases over a secure Web server ensures that your payment or personal information will be translated into a secret code to be transmitted over the Internet.

Spyware is a program that installs itself on your computer without your consent and tracks usage and surfing habits, often with the aim of deploying customized and unwanted advertising. Aside from being an invasion of privacy, it may generate annoying pop-up ads, slow your system to a crawl, redirect your computer to Web Sites you never intended to visit, monitor your Internet surfing, or even record your keystrokes.

A Trojan horse is a computer program that is disguised as or is embedded in seemingly benign software but is designed to damage your computer upon execution. They are often designed to either destroy data or to steal sensitive information such as passwords or account numbers. They can even allow someone to take full control of your computer. See our Safeguarding Your Computer page to learn how to protect your computer.

A user interface is the means by which a person interacts with a computer program. It encompasses the graphics, text and sounds presented to the user and they ways in which the user controls and acts upon the program.

Viruses are computer programs or scripts that infect computers without the knowledge or consent of the user and attempt to replicate and spread themselves to other files or computers. Once they have infected a computer, viruses can cause poor performance, system crashes, lost or corrupted data and more. Viruses can spread themselves from computer to computer in a variety of ways, including email attachments, downloads, across networks or via a removable medium such as a USB drive, CD, or floppy disk. See our Safeguarding Your Computer page to learn how to protect your computer.

A worm is a type of virus that resides in a computer's memory and replicates itself, usually spreading to many other computers on a network. Worms often inflict damage simply by consuming bandwidth and clogging up networks as they duplicate and pass themselves from computer to computer. See our Safeguarding Your Computer page to learn how to protect your computer.