Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
There are many features on our products and services for which no personally identifiable information is required to be provided by you. However, you will need to provide us with personal information about yourself if you are interested in obtaining certain information, purchasing our products and services, making a donation, or participating in other activities with CR, such as sweepstakes, contests or other special initiatives. And if you use any third-party social media services that are integrated with our products and services, or purchase certain of our mobile products and services from third party services, we may receive personally identifiable information that you have made available to us via those services.
When you provide us with information in connection with a particular activity or otherwise purchase our products and services or provide your contact information, including an email address or telephone number in connection with that activity, product or service, you expressly consent to our communicating with you future information about Consumer Reports' products, programs and services using the information you provided to us and acknowledge that we have the authority to contact you via the information you provide. This means we may contact you, in person or by recorded message, by e-mail, telephone and/or mobile telephone number (including use of automated dialing equipment), text (SMS) message, or any other means of communication that your wireless or other telecommunications device may be capable of receiving. You attest that you have the legal authority over any telephone number you provide to us and can provide us with the authorization to contact you.
We have separate policies for PII provided in response to surveys. Please see the section regarding how we treat surveys below.
Submission of User Product Reviews, Ratings and Comments
We collect information that you voluntarily provide through various tools on our Sites and products and services, including messages you post in any public discussion group (forums), user product reviews and ratings submitted through our review tool, and blog comments ("User Generated Content"). In order to post a user review or blog comment, CR requires you to provide us with a user name (which should be different from your real name) and other information, which may include your email address and/or geographical location. Only your user name and geographical location will be posted with your review. Forums are available only to subscribers and registered users and comments you make on a Forum are identified by your name as it appears on your CR billing records if you are a subscriber and by your user name if you are not a subscriber.
User Generated Content is public. If you don't want people to know your email address or any other personally identifiable information, do not include that information in the text of any message you post publicly. If you submit user reviews, please be aware that we may share your submissions with other Web sites or provide links to your submissions from other Web sites. The posting of User Generated Content is subject to our User Agreement.
Information Collected Through Technology
When you use any of our Sites or mobile products and services we or our service providers may collect tracking information such as your browser type, mobile device type, the type of operating system you use, the domain name of your Internet service provider, and pages visited on the Sites. We use this information for aggregate reporting, for example, to know how long the average user spends on our Sites or which pages or features get the most attention. We use this information to make our Sites and other products and services more useful to you, to present you with content we believe you'll be interested in, and to serve banner ads for Consumer Reports products and services on both our Sites and other websites.
Most aggregate information is collected via cookies, web beacons and other technical methods. For instance, we use Web beacons on some of our Site pages in conjunction with cookies to compile statistics about site usage. Web beacons are small pieces of code that are embedded on the pages of Websites or applications so we can detect when they have been viewed. We or our service providers use these technical methods to analyze the traffic patterns on our Sites, such as the frequency with which our users visit various parts of our Sites, and to measure site effectiveness or use of our other products and services, such as mobile applications. We also use Web beacons in HTML e-mails that we send our visitors to determine whether our recipients have opened those e-mails and/or clicked on links in those e-mails. On their own, cookies and Web beacons do not contain or reveal any personally identifiable information. However, if you choose to furnish Consumer Reports with personally identifiable information, this information can be associated with the data collected using the cookies or Web beacons. These technical methods may involve the transmission of information either directly to us or to our service providers. These technical methods allow us to make our Sites and other products and services, and any e-mails you have agreed to receive, more relevant to you.
We also use "cookies" to store, and sometimes to track, usage information. We and/or our service providers may use Flash cookies, for example, for user authentication and fraud detection purposes. Cookies, by themselves, do not tell us your e-mail address or other personally identifiable information. A cookie is a small amount of data that is sent to your browser from a Web server and stored on your computer's hard drive. A cookie contains a unique number that allows our Sites to recognize your computer. We use both temporary and persistent cookies. A temporary cookie tracks visitor activity during a session or visit and it expires when you close your browser. We use them to provide continuity for your visit as you visit Web site pages. Persistent cookies, for example, store a unique credential that allows us to automatically log you back in if you are a subscriber so you don't have to re-enter your user name and password each time you visit. The Help function on most browsers contains information on how to set your browser to notify you before accepting cookies or to disable cookies entirely. However, if you don't accept cookies, you won't be able to take advantage of various features on our Sites that are available to other visitors.
Supplemental Information We May Receive From Other Sources
We may supplement information you give us with information from other sources, such as information to validate or update your address, payment card or other demographic and lifestyle information. We use this information to help us maintain the accuracy of the information we collect, to enable us to fulfill our products and services, to target our communications so that we can inform you of products, services and offers that may be of interest, and for internal business analysis or other business purposes consistent with our mission.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization, not beholden to any commercial interests. We pay for all of the products and services we rate and we do not accept advertising from others. Our income derives primarily from the sale of our Consumer Reports products and services and from donations. As a result, we may place ads for Consumer Reports products or services on other Web sites. Advertisements displayed to you on our sites and elsewhere may be customized to your interests and preferences based on information collected as you browse online, unless you opt out by following the instructions that can be found here and here. You have to opt-out using each of your Web browsing applications separately. Tracking technologies like cookies and web beacons are used by our ad partners for these purposes.
Our ConsumerReports.org Web site does not respond to "do-not-track" settings in users' web browsers at this time. However, to opt out of interest-based advertising you can go to our Ad Choices page. Visit Google's Ad Settings to manage the ads Google serves.
Consumer Reports licenses content from various licensors for our products and services. Most such third-party content is hosted directly by us. In a few cases, however, the company licensing content to Consumer Reports may host the content on their Web servers, although our subscribers gain access to the content through our Sites. In such cases, the content licensor may collect aggregate tracking information such as domain name and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses for those who access the hosted content. Those companies are restricted from sharing or reselling any PII collected.