Consumer-protection week

From telemarketers to Internet auction houses to door-to-door salespeople, today's consumers need protection from hyperactive sellers - even in their own homes.

Providing that "armchair armor" is the goal of this year's National Consumer Protection Week (Feb. 14 - Feb. 20), sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Some pointers:

*Use a credit card to pay (it gives you the best recourse against scams or undelivered goods).

*Never reveal personal passwords or PIN numbers.

*Ask for identification from door-to-door salespeople.

*When shopping via the Internet, shop from vendors that post privacy policies. Try to use a "secure" browser.

*Make sure to clarify shipping and handling fees upfront. Many vendors tag these fees on at the end.

*Keep a record of your purchases. (Write down a sales confirmation number and the name of the person you deal with.)

*Track your order; ask which shipper is being used and for a tracking number for your package.

*Think offers through, and demand time to consider them. Don't buckle under pressure to buy, or buy on impulse.

For more information, visit the FTC's NCPW Web site at www.consumer.gov, or call 800-677-1116.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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