SAN FRANCISCO - September 23, 2008 –TRUSTe, the leading trustmark and recognized authority on privacy best practices on the Internet, today announced the termination of one of its sealholders, Classic Closeouts LLC, an action that included the successful resolution of hundreds of online complaints.
To date, TRUSTe has helped over 200 consumers who were affected. TRUSTe is working to resolve the issues by managing and handling consumer complaints, and in some cases, helping to obtain refunds from irregular charges that were incurred on the Classic Closeouts Web site. In addition, by revoking its privacy seal, TRUSTe could keep hundreds of thousands of additional consumers that were on the Classic Closeouts mailing list from experiencing unauthorized credit card charges.
“TRUSTe is committed to ensuring protection for consumers online by making sure our sealholders comply with strict standards for online trust, and revoking seals for those who are not willing to comply,“ said Fran Maier, CEO of TRUSTe. “Web threats are constant and evolving, so we take consumer complaints seriously and respond quickly when instances such as this occur.“
Classic Closeouts, an online shopping forum, sent an offer letter to a large number of its past customers, encouraging them to enroll in a promotion program. TRUSTe received Watchdog complaints regarding unauthorized charges from 238 consumers who reported that they were charged without authorization. When subscribers complained, the company neglected to issue reimbursements in a timely manner.
TRUSTe promptly suspended Classic Closeouts’ authorization to use the TRUSTe privacy seal. In addition, TRUSTe worked rapidly to ensure that Classic Closeouts refunded the charges in question and resolved any other privacy complaints. As a TRUSTe sealholder, the company failed to comply with various program requirements and did not execute reasonable security measures. Upon suspension, Classic Closeouts did not meet obligations to reinstate its sealholder status.
Sealholder termination occurs only after TRUSTe outlines steps necessary for the licensee to remedy violations and such steps are refused. To execute TRUSTe’s mission to build online trust, TRUSTe educates Web site operators to meet best practices in the industry for the collection and use of consumer information. In this case, Classic Closeouts met a portion of the company’s obligations to remedy problems found with their practices, but did not address all requirements.
With valid privacy complaints on the rise – complaints to TRUSTe have increased 40 percent from last year, most likely a result of increasing consumer awareness and concern for online privacy - TRUSTe’s recent monitoring and protection efforts have taken steps to meet consumer demand for increased protection online. TRUSTe certifies and monitors over 2,400 web sites, protecting over 240 million consumers per month. In 2007, TRUSTe responded to over 6,000 Watchdog complaints filed by consumers; so far this year, TRUSTe has responded to nearly 5,000 complaints of the same kind.
Even as threat levels rise, customer service personnel at most companies are often inadequately trained to detect privacy, security or data breach issues. With the help of TRUSTe’s automated monitoring systems that scour web pages for privacy breaches, companies can get better results faster in order to protect consumers. Just this year, TRUSTe has helped licensees identify over 23 technical security vulnerabilities via both scanning and Watchdog processes.
TRUSTe operates the largest privacy certification, monitoring and dispute resolution program in the world, monitoring and validating privacy practices on 2,400 Web sites, including many of the most heavily trafficked, such as Disney, NFL, HP, eBay & PayPal, Microsoft, Apple, Boy Scouts of America, Hasbro, EA and the New York Times, protecting more than 240 million consumers per month.
TRUSTe is the leading global privacy management solutions provider and offers a broad suite of solutions that enable multinational companies to safely and efficiently handle the customer data powering their online businesses - including advertising, cloud services, mobile applications, and websites. Over 5,000 web properties from top companies like Apple, Disney, eBay, Forbes, HP, and Microsoft rely on TRUSTe to ensure compliance with evolving and complex international privacy requirements. TRUSTe's mission, based on a "Truth in Privacy" framework, is built on a solid foundation of transparency, choice and accountability regarding the collection and use of personal information. TRUSTe's privacy seal is recognized and trusted by millions of consumers worldwide as a sign of responsible privacy practices. For additional information on TRUSTe and its offerings, please visit http://www.truste.com.