BUSINESS DELIVERY PHARMACY SERVICES PHOTO CENTER TRAVEL REBATES MEMBERSHIP
Costco Wholesale Corporation
Privacy Statement
(United States and Puerto Rico)
Last Updated August 29, 2008
  
 
 
This privacy statement (also referred to as Costco's Privacy Policy) explains our privacy practices for our customers who: (1) shop in our United States and Puerto Rico warehouses or (2) use our website, www2.costco.com,.
 
Costco's Commitment to Privacy

We respect your right to privacy. Your ability to make informed choices about the uses of your information is important to us. This privacy statement explains our policy regarding the collection, use, disclosure and protection of personal information. The terms of this privacy statement apply to information collected from you, unless different terms are specified as part of a special offer, or in another form or contract we provide you and you consent to those terms by participating in the special offer or the program, or otherwise. The links below provide detailed information about our privacy practices:

 
  A.  What is Personal Information?

  B.  Collection of Personal Information

  C.  Use of Personal Information by Costco

  D.  Sharing of Personal Information

            1.  Order Fulfillment

            2.  Member Services

            3.  Our Contractors

            4.  Tobacco Rebates for Business Members

   E.  Other Uses and Disclosures

   F.  Protection of Personal and Credit Card Information

  G.  Choice

  H.  Health Care Centers

            1.  Health Care Centers

            2.  Pharmacies

  I.  Online Specifics 

            1.  What Are Cookies and Are You Required to Accept Them?

            2.  Use of the costco.com Web Site by Children

            3.  Online Links to Other Web Sites

            4.  Updating, Reviewing or Correcting Online Personal Information

  J.  Questions or Concerns

  K.  Changes to this Statement
 

 
A. What is Personal Information?

Personal information is information that identifies an individual or is directly associated with a specific person or entity such as a name, address, telephone number, email address, credit card number, or information about activities which can be directly linked to that person, such as his or her purchases. Personal information also includes information such as your medical history and prescription profile for fulfillment of pharmacy orders (see Health Care Centers below) or the information for processing of Member Services (see Member Services below) when you use those services. As a convenience to our Members, we allow the primary cardholder to add his/her spouse or others to your membership. In all circumstances, other than a choice to opt-out (see Choice below), reference in this policy statement to "you" or "your" also includes your spouse and others added onto your membership by you. Reference in this statement to "information you provide" includes information provided by you, your spouse or others added on.

 
Our definition of personal information does not include "aggregate" information. Aggregate information is data we collect about a group or category of products, services or website visitors, from which individual identities have been removed. In other words, information about how you use a service may be collected and combined with information about how others use the same service, but no personal information will be included in the resulting data. Likewise, information about the products you purchase may be collected and combined with information about the products purchased by others. Aggregate data helps us understand trends and Members' needs so that we can better consider new products and services, and tailor existing products and services to Members' desires.
 
B. Collection of Personal Information

We collect the personal information that you provide us, such as when you:

 
  • sign up for or renew your Costco membership;
  • register to use costco.com or sign up for news or notifications of specials or other promotions on costco.com;
  • place an order or purchase products or services at our warehouse locations, online, by telephone, mail or facsimile;
  • contact us for any reason, such as by replying to inquires by mail, fax or through our website, by telephone through customer service, or in person at one of our locations; or
  • sign up for or participate in our various Member Services (see Member Services below).
We may automatically collect some information when you visit our website, such as your computer's network address and operating system, the site from which you linked to us, your site activity and the time and date of your visit and purchases. This information may be collected through the use of "cookies" (see Online Specifics below). We also receive information from third parties who provide Member Services or special promotions or products (see Member Services below) and we may combine this information with the other personal information we maintain about you. In either case, this policy statement governs this information.
 
C. Use of Personal Information by Costco

The personal information we collect is generally used to process your requests or transactions, provide you with high-quality service, tell you about opportunities we think will be of interest, and understand your needs so that we can serve you better. For example, we may use your telephone number, your email or your postal address to: (1) alert you about product recalls or safety issues; or (2) communicate membership opportunities and programs. We also may use personal information we collect to provide you with promotional information, which is information we believe will add value to your membership, such as coupon savings booklets, promotions, or information about Member Services ("Promotional Information"). If you prefer not to receive Promotional Information from us, we make it easy for you to let us know. You may contact us at any time to decline Promotional Information (see Choice below).

 
D. Sharing of Personal Information  

We do not sell, rent, share or disclose personal information to third parties without your prior consent, except in the limited circumstances described below:

 
1. Order Fulfillment
We may provide to a third party information that is necessary to fulfill an order you have placed with us. For example, if you request shipment for a purchase, we may provide your address to the shipping carrier, and if you pay by a credit or debit card, your card number and sales transaction information are passed on to the card processor and/or issuer (including their service providers such as fraud verification services). However, we give suppliers, and others involved in the commerce distribution chain only the information needed to provide you the products or services you order, such as shipping and/or billing address, email address, telephone number and product orders. Moreover, we require them to keep the information confidential and not to use it for other purposes. We are not responsible for any additional information you provide directly to these parties, and we encourage you to become familiar with their practices before disclosing information directly to them.
   
2. Member Services
We offer special products and services to our members that are provided by third parties such as rebates, financial, travel, insurance and other business and consumer services ("Member Services"). We may share your name, postal address, email address and membership status, number and type ("Member Information") with these third parties in order to notify you of their offerings, to determine whether, or at what level, you qualify for the products, offerings or services, and to evaluate new and existing products, offerings or services. If you prefer that we not share Member Information with third parties, you can contact us at any time (see Choice below).
   
  However, if you apply for or request certain products, offerings or services, information you provide will be shared directly with the third parties who will be providing the requested products, offerings or services. If you apply for an American Express Card through Costco, we will provide American Express with all of the information you provide on the application, membership information and the approximate amount of your annual spending with us to help you obtain the highest credit limit possible.
   
  These third parties are required not to use personal information we share for any purposes other than providing the requested services. We are not responsible for any additional information you provide directly to these parties, and we encourage you to become familiar with their privacy and security practices and policies before disclosing information to them. If you provide additional information to third parties, they, subject to applicable laws and their privacy policies, may share with us the information you provided and information about your use of the services. In some cases, these third parties may require as a condition of providing services to you that you authorize them to share information with us. If we terminate our relationship with a third party, information you provided to them may be returned to us, and we may provide that information to a new third party offering the same or similar services.
   
       3. Our Contractors
  We may contract with others to perform tasks or services on our behalf. For example, we might retain a company to process credit card payments, to email information about special offers, or to analyze data. If any of our contractors need access to your personal information, we require that they promise to use the information only to perform the tasks we have engaged them to perform. We also require that they maintain the confidentiality of the information and/or return the information to us when they no longer need it.
   
4. Tobacco Rebates for Business Members
As a service to our Business Members who purchase tobacco products for resale, we provide certain information to the tobacco manufacturers' representative to process retail incentives for our Business Members. The information we provide is the Business Member's name, address, the brand name, and the amount of tobacco products purchased.
   
  Pursuant to California law, if you are a Business Member in California and you do not want us to disclose this information on your behalf, you can notify us (see Choice below).
   

E. Other Uses and Disclosures

In addition, we may use or disclose personal information in the good faith belief that we are lawfully authorized to do so, or that doing so is reasonably necessary to protect you, to comply with legal process or authorities, to respond to any claims, or to protect the rights, property or personal safety of Costco Wholesale, our Members, our employees or the public. We may share your name, address and membership level (Gold Star, Business or Executive), but no other personal information, with your employer if your membership was purchased for you as an employee benefit. Information about our Members, including personal information, may be disclosed or transferred as part of, or during negotiations of, any merger or sale of company assets or acquisition.
 

F. Protection of Personal and Credit Card Information

We have adopted security measures in an effort to protect personal information from loss, misuse or alteration while it is under our control. We use technical, contractual, administrative and physical measures in an effort to protect against unauthorized access. Personal information we collect is stored electronically and may be combined with other membership information.

 
We collect, process and maintain payment information, including credit card information, in compliance with the data security rules adopted by credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express. This means that we do not retain debit card PINs or credit card security codes, and that any time we maintain a credit card number, such as when you create an online account, we use access controls and strong encryption to protect it.
 
Further, when you enter personal information online, that information is encrypted using a security protocol called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which encrypts all information prior to transmitting it over the Internet. We also use SSL to allow you to securely view your online account and registration information.
 
Online account information is accessible only by using a password. To protect the confidentiality of personal information in your online account, you must keep your password confidential.  You are responsible for all uses of www2.costco.com by anyone using your password. If others have access to your computer or email, they may be able to find your password and obtain information about you (such as your credit card number), or change information in your user profile. You should not use an email account operated by an employer because many employers have the legal right to view your email or online accounts. Please advise us immediately at customerservice@costco.com if you believe your password has been misused.
 
G. Choice

We give you the opportunity to opt-out of receiving certain information or to request that certain information not be shared with third parties, by giving you numerous methods to inform us of your decision. Your choice to opt-out will not apply to your spouse and any add-on members.

 
1. If you do not want us to share Member Information (see Member Services) with third parties, you can: (a) check the opt-out box on our membership applications; (b) follow the opt-out instructions on your renewal notices; (c) visit us at any Membership desk at any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco warehouse location; (d) call our Membership Services representatives at 1-800-774-2678; (e) email us at customerservice@costco.com; or (f) write us at: Customer Service, P. O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124.
   
  2. If you do not want to receive Promotional Information (see Use of Personal Information by Costco) or information about Member Services, you can: (a) visit us at any Membership desk at any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco warehouse location; (b) call our Membership Services representatives at 1-800-774-2678; (c) email us at customerservice@costco.com; or (d) write us at: Customer Service, P. O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124.
   
3. If you are a Business Member in California and you do not want us to disclose information about your tobacco purchases, you can: (a) visit us at any Membership desk at any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco warehouse location; (b) call our Membership Services representatives at 1-800-774-2678; (c) email us at customerservice@costco.com; or (d) write us at: Customer Service, P. O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124.
   
4. If you do not want to receive promotional emails, you can: (a) call our Membership Services representatives at 1-800-774-2678; (b) email us at customerservice@costco.com; (c) write us at: Customer Service, P.O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124; (d) click the provided "unsubscribe" link in any email to unsubscribe; or (e) access "My Account" if you are a registered user of costco.com, and check the opt-out box. If you have more than one email address, you will need to specifically opt-out for each email address.
 
H. Health Care Centers
 
1. Health Care Centers
We appreciate the importance of safeguarding the privacy of your personal health information and consequently we have special procedures to protect this sensitive information provided to our pharmacies, and optical and hearing aid departments ("Health Care Centers"). Personal health information includes your prescription information, your Pharmacy Patient Profile and other related information. Click here to review our Health Care Centers' Notice of Privacy Practices. If you are an Executive Member, your purchase information from our Health Care Centers will be combined with your other personal information to calculate your Executive Member 2% Reward, subject to the terms and conditions of that program.
   
2. Pharmacies
This section explains our policy with respect to the uses of personal pharmacy information, whether you use our services online or in a warehouse pharmacy. Prescription information is stored in an electronic system separate from all other member stored personal information. To fill your prescriptions, we collect your name, address, telephone number, age, gender, allergies, and other prescription-related information. We are required by law to collect this type of information to identify potentially dangerous drug interactions or other health concerns. We use this information to process your order, contact you with any questions and provide you with the counseling you may require. Our pharmacist database is maintained separately from other Member databases. Only licensed pharmacists, specifically authorized staff, and others permitted by law to view this database, are allowed to do so. When you use our services, you consent to our use and disclosure of your personal health information for purposes of treatment, payment or health care operations. We do not otherwise sell, share, rent or disclose personal information collected from our pharmacy pages or maintained in pharmacist records unless you have authorized such disclosure, or such disclosure is permitted or required by law. Additional terms regarding the confidentiality of your prescription information are explained in our confidentiality of personal pharmacy information page located on our Web site http://www2.costco.com/Browse/Productgroup.aspx?Prodid=11229291 and incorporated in this Privacy Policy by this reference. Please review these terms so that you understand how they affect your actions and information.
 
I. Online Specifics
      
 
1. What Are Cookies and Are You Required to Accept Them?
Cookies are small files that are stored on your computer. At costco.com, we use cookies to help optimize your shopping experience. For example, we use cookies to customize our home page for you and to better display pages according to your browser type. Costco.com does not store in cookies any personal information about you. 
    
While cookies are optional for browsing costco.com, they are required for registering, logging on, shopping or adding items to your cart. If you wish to purchase items or set up an account on costco.com, you will need to accept a costco.com cookie.
  
2. Use of the costco.com Web Site by Children
We encourage parents to take an active interest in their children's use of the Internet. We do not intend to collect information from children who are under 18 years of age. If you are under 18, you should not provide information on the costco.com Website and should ask your parent to do so for you. In addition, individuals under the age of 18 may not fill, refill or transfer a prescription on costco.com.
 
3. Online Links to Other Web Sites
Through the Member Services (see Member Services above) and selected other portions of our website, you can link to other websites of third parties who have agreed to offer goods and services to our members. Any personal information you provide on the linked pages is provided directly to that third party and is subject to that third party's privacy policy. Except as described above, we are not responsible for the content or privacy and security practices and policies of websites to which we link. Links from our site to third parties or to other sites are provided for your convenience. We encourage you to learn about their privacy and security practices and policies before providing them with personal information.
 
4.

Updating, Reviewing or Correcting Online Personal Information
You may update, review or correct your online account information at any time online by accessing your password-protected registration page via the "My Account" area of the Web site. You also may email us at customerservice@costco.com or call us at 800-774-2678. To update prescription-related information, access the patient profile page at our online pharmacy site. To update general membership information, such as a change of address, please see below.

 

5. Retention of Information we Collect Online
Information we automatically collect as a result of your online activity is generally not retained in a personally identifiable form, or if the information is personally identifiable, we retain it only long enough for us to perform studies and analyses related to our website. The exception would be information we need in order to investigate fraud or problems associated with particular transactions or events.

 

J. Questions or Concerns

If you have any questions or concerns about this privacy statement or would like to contact us for any reason, you can do the following:

 
1. Visit us at any Membership desk at any U.S. or Puerto Rico Costco warehouse location;
2. Call our Membership Service representatives at 1-800-774-2678;
3. Email us at customerservice@costco.com; or
4. Write us at: Customer Service, P. O. Box 34622, Seattle, WA 98124.
  
K. Changes to this Statement

We reserve the right to change this privacy statement at any time, but will alert you that changes have been made by indicating at the top of the privacy statement the date it was last updated. We encourage you to review our privacy statement to make sure you understand how information you provide will be used. If there is ever a material change to how we use information you provide and the new uses are unrelated to uses we disclose in this statement, we will communicate the changes in advance.