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Federal Trade Commission Privacy Policy

This page describes how the FTC handles information that we learn about consumers when consumers visit the Web sites we operate (www.ftc.gov, www.consumer.gov, www.econsumer.gov, www.donotcall.gov ) or contact us by mail, phone, or email. We collect the information under the authority of the FTC Act and other laws we enforce or administer, and we maintain it in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, where applicable. Any personally identifying information you provide is voluntary. We use it to fulfill a request you make or to assist us in carrying out our mission; it may be disclosed to others for such purposes.

If you visit our Web sites to browse, read, or download information:

  • We automatically collect and store: the name of the domain and host from which you access the Internet; the Internet protocol (IP) address of the computer you are using; the browser software you use and your operating system; the date and time you access our sites; and the Internet address of the site from which you linked directly to our sites.

  • We use this information only as anonymous aggregate data to determine the number of visitors to different sections of our sites, to ensure the sites are working properly, and to help us make our sites more useful. We do not use it to track or record information about individuals. Generally, we delete this information after one year.

  • We do not use persistent "cookies" or tracking mechanisms that collect personally identifying information on our sites. Our Do Not Call Web site (www.donotcall.gov) uses session cookies to anonymously collect a visitor’s IP address and the date and time of the visit. Session cookies are temporary files that are erased when you close all browsers. We use these session cookies for site management purposes. Accepting session cookies on our Do Not Call Web site is voluntary; you may still use the site if you decline cookies.

If you choose to identify yourself when you call us, write to us, send us email, or use our secure online forms:

Information We Collect

  • We collect any personally identifying information, such as your name, street address, email address, and phone number, and any other information you provide to us.

  • In accordance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), when a visitor files a complaint online and indicates an age under 13, no personally identifying information is collected in conjunction with that submission.

How We Use and Disclose Information

If you choose to provide personally identifying information to us, we will use and disclose it as described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not provide your name or other identifying information, it may be impossible for us to refer, respond to, or investigate your complaint or request. We may share your information with contractors acting on our behalf, such as call center operators and redress administrators, who are subject to confidentiality agreements.

  • If you contact us to order publications, we use the information you provide to fulfill your order or contact you about your order.

  • If you contact us to complain about a company, individual, or a particular practice, or to report that you have been a victim of identity theft:

    • We make your complaint available to FTC employees involved in law enforcement.

    • We may share your complaint with a variety of government agencies worldwide that enforce consumer protection, competition, and other laws.

    • We may share your complaint with certain private entities, including companies you may have complained about, to help address your complaint. If your complaint concerns identity theft or the accuracy of your credit report, we may share it with credit bureaus to help address your complaint or identity theft-related concern.

    • When you submit a complaint, you may be contacted by the FTC, other law enforcement agencies, or any of the private entities to which your complaint has been referred.

  • If you contact us by phone to be included in the National Do Not Call Registry, we will collect your phone number and store it in the registry so that telemarketers and sellers covered by the FTC's rules can remove your phone number from their call lists. If you contact us via the Internet, we also collect your email address to confirm your registration request. We will store your email address in a secure manner, separate from your telephone number. We will not share your email address with telemarketers. Telemarketers are required to search the registry every three months and delete from their call lists phone numbers that are in the registry. Phone numbers in the registry may also be shared with law enforcement to assure compliance with federal and state law.

  • In other circumstances, including requests from Congress, Freedom of Information Act requests from private individuals or companies, during litigation, for routine agency uses subject to the Privacy Act, or under our access and public record rules, we may be required or authorized by law to disclose the information you provide.

If you want to get information about you or your company that may be in our records:

  • Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act of 1974, to the extent applicable, you have certain rights to get information about you or your company that may be in our records. For more information about the circumstances under which you can get and correct this information, click on FOIA and Privacy Act. To access information about you that the FTC may have on file, contact our FOIA office. You will get access to any information that the FOIA and Privacy Act require us to disclose to you.

Here's what you should know about the security of the information you provide to us:

  • We use secure socket layer (SSL) encryption to protect the transmission of the information you submit to us when you use our secure online forms. The information you provide to us is stored securely.

  • Email that you send us is not necessarily secure against interception. If your email communication includes sensitive information like your Social Security number, your bank account number, or your credit or charge card numbers, contact us through one of our secure online forms or by mail or telephone.

Here's how to contact us about:

Last Updated: Thursday, April 22, 2004


1. Cookie

A "cookie" is a small text file that a Web site can place on your computer's hard drive in order, for example, to collect information about your activities on the site or to make it possible for you to use an online "shopping cart" to keep track of items you wish to purchase. The cookie transmits this information back to the Web site's computer which, generally speaking, is the only computer that can read it. Many consumers do not know that "cookies" are being placed on their computers when they visit Web sites. If you want to know when this happens, or to prevent it from happening, you can set your browser to warn you when a Web site attempts to place a "cookie" on your computer. [Back to Top]

2. Our Secure Online Forms:

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