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Danger on the Web: The 'safe' certifications that may not be

Danger on the Web: The 'safe' certifications that may not be
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Have you ever bought items on eBay and Etsy or looked up restaurant reviews on Yelp? I bet you have. These sites and thousands of others all have one thing in common: They're certified by TRUSTe, a service that's supposed to assure consumers that the sites they're using are safe and secure. But, it turns out you might not want to trust TRUSTe. That's because it just paid the FTC $200,000 to settle a complaint that alleges the company failed to ensure that certified companies actually kept user data secure.

In its complaint, the FTC says that from 2006 to 2013, TRUSTe failed to live up to its promise to consumers. The commission found these deceptive business practices unacceptable.

The FTC says that in that span of time, there were some 1,000 "incidences" where companies weren't forced to re-certify on an annual basis despite TRUSTe's site claiming otherwise.

TRUSTe says that it didn't re-certify some websites annually because those sites purchased "multi-year agreements." The company also claims this only makes up 10% of annual reviews. The number might seem small, but that's still 1,000 websites that didn't have compliance reviewed.

Next page: Make sure your data is safe online
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