CPO offers advice for holiday and online shopping

It's important to be safe and secure when shopping online this holiday season. (file photo)

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The Consumer Protection Office (CPO) of Manitoba has some tips and resources available to Manitobans to shop safely online during the holiday season and year-round.

Online shopping can offer convenience, specialty items and attractive sales.  However, it is important that consumers stay safe when shopping online.  The CPO recommends shopping with recognizable and trusted businesses. If you are considering using a new company, search online to read about other customer experiences and familiarize yourself with their terms and conditions including how to modify, cancel or return an order.  Consumers should be cautious when using online auction sites, as consumer protection laws may not apply.

Personal information is as valuable to scammers as money.  The CPO recommends protecting your personal information by only shopping on secure websites, which have ‘https://’ at the beginning of the web address.  Learn how your browser indicates a website is secure, which might be with an icon of a lock or a green address bar, and be sure the website address you are visiting is accurate.

Before completing an online purchase, review your shopping cart to ensure the products, prices and quantities are correct.  Notice any extra costs such as taxes, shipping and handling, foreign exchange rates or duty fees that may be applicable.  Afterwards, monitor your banking statements for any charges that you may not recognize.

Manitobans who pay by credit card for online purchases have extra protection if issues arise with their transactions.  The Consumer Protection Act will:

  • protect consumers against the unauthorized use of credit card information;
    • limit a consumer’s liability to $50 when credit card information is used without proper authorization;
    • provide the right to reverse or cancel a credit card charge if the consumer was entitled to a refund and has not received one from the vendor;
    • give consumers the right to cancel a sale prior to receipt of goods or services if the seller has not provided certain information to the consumer; and
    • provide the opportunity to cancel an Internet sale if the seller fails to deliver goods or services.

The CPO administers Manitoba’s consumer protection legislation and helps consumers and businesses effectively identify and manage marketplace issues. For more tips on online shopping, visit http://manitoba.ca/justice/cp/cpo/info/shopping_safely_online.html.

Manitobans are encouraged to learn more about consumer protection issues and their rights under the law.  To do this, either download the free Consumer Protection mobile app or contact the CPO 204-945-3800, (toll-free) 1-800-782-0067, or by email at consumers@gov.mb.ca.  More information is also available at www.gov.mb.ca/justice/cp/cpo.

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