American Express Co. is encouraging customers to use its cards at gas stations and supermarkets with a new promotion that awards double points for using the card at such merchants.

Cardholders enrolled in the Membership Rewards program will earn two points for each dollar they spend on gas and groceries through Aug. 31. The promotion will be advertised at the merchants, on radio, and in print.

In a separate announcement, American Express said it is working on education programs for on-line privacy in partnership with the Federal Trade Commission, the Consumer Information Center, the Direct Marketing Association, and Call For Action.

American Express has introduced a brochure, "Cybersmarts: Tips for Protecting Yourself When Shopping On-line." The leaflet is available by mail and is posted on the company's Web site.

Among other things, the brochure explains that consumers' rights in the physical world also apply in the on-line world. For instance, merchandise must be delivered within 30 days unless stated otherwise, and customers are liable only for the first $50 of fraudulent charges made on their cards.

"The Internet is an exciting tool, providing consumers with vast information, convenience, and choice," said Peggy Haney, vice president of consumer affairs at American Express. "As with many methods of purchasing, however, there are concerns about privacy and security protection."

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