I am always leery of downloading browser toolbars. There are several out there designed to help you save money online. They may offer to remind you of coupon codes or pay cash back when you make your purchase through their toolbar. However, what they really do is track your traffic. Tricia sent this link today that details one person’s discovery. Upromise is apparently sending secure information via plain text which can be read over any network—including user credit card numbers!
Another thing these toolbars do is transfer your purchase to their affiliate account. As you know, this site (and many others like it) rely on affiliate networks as payment for the services we provide. If you choose to make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, the merchant pays us for the referral. However, many toolbars will override the tracking with their own id. This means that the person who actually referred you to the website does not receive credit.
That’s an ethical discussion for another day, but I really want you to be aware of the security hole in using these toolbars. They truly are tracking your every move—compiling data for their own use, selling demographics to marketers and (apparently) recording private information. If you believe your security is compromised, be sure to pull your credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You are eligible for 1 completely free credit report from each company annually.
If you have already used your free report, or if you want additional monitoring, there are a number of services available to you. Equifax Credit Watch Gold 3-in-1 will provide a report and continue to monitor your identity. (And, yes, I get paid if you choose to sign up.)