Computer users, beware. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer worries that consumers who make Internet purchases have become too complacent about...

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WASHINGTON — Computer users, beware. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer worries that consumers who make Internet purchases have become too complacent about the risks of financial fraud and stolen identity.

Ballmer said in an interview with The Associated Press that a calm period without significant Internet attacks has lulled computer users, even older Web surfers who traditionally have been more anxious than teenagers about their online safety.

“I don’t want trepidation high, but on the other hand, I want people aware of what’s going on and taking appropriate precautions,” Ballmer said yesterday. “I’m afraid that may have declined, a little too much.”

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Ballmer and other technology executives, all part of the Washington-based Business Software Alliance, met in Washington with congressional leaders and members of President Bush’s Cabinet to lobby on Internet security, foreign trade and protections against software piracy. They also met with AP reporters and editors.

“Convenience is improving rapidly. Things I might have been a bit hesitant to do a couple years ago, I’m willing to go a bit further with today, even with some security concerns,” said Stephen Elop, chief executive at Macromedia, which makes popular drawing software and programs for animating Web sites.

The executives said parents should teach children to avoid the Internet’s seedier neighborhoods. Ballmer said one of his sons carries a laptop to school every day and spends hours online unsupervised.

“We need to oversee and use technology and teach our children what’s appropriate,” Ballmer said. “Some of it’s still going to have to come from parents kind of teaching their kids what’s right. That was true even before the Internet.”

Elop, a father of five, said he uses software tools to protect his kids online. “But I do not abdicate the responsibility to train my children,” he said. “At the end of the day, you have to develop their character and trust them to respond.”

Another chief executive, John McEleney of SolidWorks Corp., called on the Supreme Court not to allow expanded copyright lawsuits against manufacturers of file-sharing software popular for stealing music and movies over the Internet. A decision in the case is expected in coming weeks.

Ballmer joked that his family never downloads songs illegally. “As I tell my three little boys, our family is going to be as holier-than-thou, when it comes to copyrights, as any family around because I have to do this kind of work,” Ballmer said.