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  • Costco Wholesale Corporation
    Your Privacy Rights

    (United States and Puerto Rico)
    Last Updated December 31, 2013

    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, www.costco.com.

    Costco's Commitment to Privacy

    We respect your right to privacy. We do not sell, rent, share or disclose personal information to third parties without your prior consent, except in the circumstances described in this Privacy Statement. In addition, 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 links below provide detailed information about our privacy practices:

    A. What is Personal Information?

    Personal information is information that identifies an individual or that can be reasonably associated with a specific person or entity, such as a name, contact information, Internet (IP) address and information about an individual's purchases and online shopping. Personal information also includes medical information collected through our pharmacies, hearing aid centers and optical centers (see Health Care Centersbelow). As a convenience to our Members, we allow the primary cardholder to add his/her spouse or others to a membership account.

    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, online or otherwise;
    • contact us for any reason;
    • participate in a survey or promotion; 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 IP address and operating system, the site from which you linked to us, your site activity, the time and date of your visit, and your purchases. This information may be collected through the use of "cookies" and web beacons (see Online Specifics below). We also receive information from third parties who help us correct our records, prevent fraud, and provide Member Services or special promotions or products (see Member Services below). We may combine any of this information with the other personal information we maintain about you.

    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 administer your account, including distribution of our own surveys and publications. For example, we may:

    • Alert you about product recalls or safety issues;
    • Communicate membership opportunities and programs; and
    • Provide you with promotional information, such as coupons, offers and product recommendations, 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 share information in these circumstances:

    1. Order Fulfillment
      We may provide to a third party information as necessary to fulfill an order you have placed with us. For example, we may provide your address to a shipper, and if you pay by a credit or debit card, your card number and sales transaction information are passed 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 distribution chain only the information needed to provide you the products or services you order, and we require them to keep the information confidential and not to use it for other purposes. We are not responsible for any 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 through 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 collect the application on behalf of American Express.

      These third parties are required to use personal information we share only to provide 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 practices and policies before disclosing information to them. Information you provide to third parties, may in turn be shared with us along with 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 services on our behalf. For example, we might retain a company to process credit card payments, ship merchandise, distribute emails, process rebates or analyze data. If any of these service providers need access to your personal information, we require them to use it only to perform the services for us. 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. Primary Account Holder
      Each membership account has an individual primary account holder who is authorized to designate and remove add-on members and make other account management decisions. We may disclose Personal Information that relates to activities occurring under the account to the primary account holder.


    5. Tobacco Rebates for Business Members
      As a service to our Business Members who purchase tobacco products for resale, we provide information to the tobacco manufacturers' representative to process retail incentives. 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. If your membership was purchased for you as an employee benefit, we may share your name, address and membership level (Gold Star, Business or Executive), but no other personal information, with your employer. 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 physical, administrative and technical security measures in place to protect personal information from loss, misuse or alteration while it is under our control. We are required to collect, process and maintain payment card information in accordance 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 must limit access to it and use strong encryption to protect it. Further, when you enter personal information online, that information is encrypted prior to transmission using a security protocol called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). 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. You must keep your password confidential. You are responsible for all uses of www.costco.com by anyone using your password. Please advise us immediately at customerservice@costco.com if you believe your password has been misused.

    G. Choice

    We give you choices related to your personal information, and 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. If you receive emails from the online Photo Center or one of our services providers (see Member Services) you will need to specifically opt out of these special purpose emails. There will be an opportunity to do this on the email itself, and you may opt out of Photo Center emails by logging into your Photo Center account.
    5. If you do not want us to track your activity on Costco.com, you can access "My Account" if you are a registered user 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. Review our Notice of Privacy Practices: Pharmacies & Health Care Centers. 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 Notice of Privacy Practices: Pharmacies & Health Care Centers 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. Information Gathering and Use.
      We use cookies. Cookies are small files that are stored on your computer. They enable us to monitor online activity. We use this information to help optimize your shopping experience. For example, we may customize our home page for you, better display pages according to your browser type, and/or deliver customized product recommendations and email. To opt out of these features see Choices. Cookies are not spyware, and Costco does not collect multi-site data, share information with others that we gather through cookies or allow others to gather information on our site using cookies. Currently our site does not respond to “Do Not Track” features enabled through your browser.

      Like most web sites, our servers log your IP address, the URL from which you accessed our site, your browser type, and the date and time of your purchases and other activities. We use this information for system administration, troubleshooting, fraud investigation and communications from Costco (only).

      Finally, we use web beacons to determine when and how many times a page has been viewed. Again, we use this information for our own marketing purposes.

      Your browser will accept cookies and allow automatic collection of information unless you change the browser default settings. If cookies are disabled the web site will not load properly.
    2. Links to Other Sites
      From our web site you can link to websites of third parties who we allow to offer goods and services to our members or who provide functions and amenities to our site, such as product information and reviews. If it is not clear from the context that you are being directed to a third party site, we endeavor to notify you that you are visiting a site where a different privacy policy applies. In general, 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. We are not responsible for the content or privacy and security practices and policies of websites to which we link. We encourage you to learn about their privacy and security practices and policies before providing them with personal information.
    3. Updating, Reviewing or Correcting Online Personal Information
      You may update, review or correct your online account information at any time 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.

    J. Apps/Mobile Specifics

    1. SMS (Text) Messages
      We will send you SMS (text) communications only if you consent to receive them. We may send you information customized based on your area code, but we do not automatically collect any information that discloses your physical location. You may review our terms of SMS service here.
    2. The Costco App
      Before we collect or send location-specific information, we will ask for your consent. You may use the app without consenting to this, and you may withdraw your consent by changing your selection within the app. Your general consent to your mobile service provider to allow (or disallow) location-based services does not automatically apply to us.

      In general, you do not need to provide any personal information to use our app. If you wish to make a purchase through the app, however, you must create an account. Personal information you provide is subject to this Costco.com Privacy Statement. In addition, as with any online service, our app automatically collects information such as an IP address, the unique identifier of your mobile device and the URL from which you accessed our app (see Online Specifics). Neither your name nor telephone number are automatically collected. It is not possible to opt out of providing information automatically collected through our apps.

      Providers who supply the technology necessary for us to create the app may share in the receipt of automatically collected information. We restrict their use of personal information to the purpose of providing services to Costco. In addition, you should review the privacy statements published by your mobile carrier and by your device manufacturer. Either or both of them may automatically collect information. Costco does not have access to information you provide to or that is automatically collected by these third parties.

      Our apps may provide links to Costco service providers (see Member Services) and other third parties (see Links to Other Sites).

      Except as described in this Privacy Statement, Costco does not sell or share with third parties any information you provide or information automatically collected through our app.

    K. 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 or app. In addition, individuals under the age of 18 may not fill, refill or transfer a prescription on costco.com.

    L. 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.

    M. Changes to this Statement

    We may 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 your Personal Information will be used. If we make a material change to how we use Personal Information and the new uses are unrelated to uses we disclose in this statement, we will communicate the changes in advance.