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Forum

While consumers long have been wary about entrusting credit-card numbers to the Internet, improvements in encryption software are making online transactions safer than every before and consumers appear to be responding. One recent study found that 30 percent of online households had made a purchase via the Internet over the past six months. So the Business Journal Forum asks:

Have you ever purchased anything online?

Jonathan G. Lasch

President and CEO

Advanced Sports Materials

I have bought stocks and mutual funds. I’ve used some of the travel (Web sites) to search for information, but I can’t remember putting in (my credit-card) number. I’ve usually ended up talking to someone. Online trading of stocks and mutual funds is great. I can do what I want quickly, and you get a reduced commission if you’re comfortable with making your own decisions.

Tony Polk

President

Polk Communications & Research

I’ve bought books on Amazon.com, and I like that. I can search the indexes and find what I want without going to the bookstore. I like going to the bookstore, but (the Internet is) great when I don’t have the time. Also, we’re a marketing and public relations company that deals with law firms, and we bought a general counsel book (from another online bookstore besides Amazon.com), and that service was fine too. We couldn’t find the book elsewhere and we were able to find it online.

Albert J. Mayer

Senior Vice President

Fred Sands Realtors

I buy office supplies and I buy books on Amazon.com. I buy subscriptions to papers and magazines. The largest item I have bought online is a color printer, which only cost around $200. I haven’t bought a car or anything, but my son did. He bought a truck. He thought he got a better deal; he thought he saved between $500 and $700. I do it for the convenience. It’s easier to shop on it. I was doing independent consulting work before Fred Sands, and I bought a good many office supplies for my small business online.

Terry E. Bess

Senior Vice President and Manager

Silicon Valley Bank

Most recently, I bought some luggage for a vacation trip I took with my wife. I found it a quick and easy way to shop and it worked for me fine. It was delivered as expected, and the photo of the luggage was accurate and we weren’t disappointed. We bought three pieces. It was probably less than $1,000. I would say I spend a low average amount of time online. I (found the luggage on) the Lands End site. Since I’ve ordered clothes from Lands End over the years, I looked to see if they had a Web site.

Brady Craine

Senior Director of Trade Events

American Film Market

I have never bought anything online because I’m afraid to use my credit card over the computer. I don’t know of anyone who has had things happen, but I’ve heard reports about it. I tend not to give my credit card over the phone either. I usually send a check. The need (to purchase online) has just never come up.

Elizabeth Mann

Litigation Partner

McDermott, Will & Emery

I am a lawyer, and I have some clients who were trying to decide whether to sue somebody. They wanted me to do an asset search. I was going to hire a private investigator, and he wanted $1,800. That seemed like a lot of money for an asset search. I happened to hear a National Public Radio report about how the Internet can violate people’s privacy. I decided to find out how much privacy I could violate. I found a company that, for $39 or $69 or whatever they wanted to charge, would give me that information. I never actually used the service, but you can get everything from the Internet.

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