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New to online shopping? Here’s how to stay safe

New to online shopping? Here’s how to stay safe

If online shopping makes you a little nervous, you’re not alone. Though it’s been around for years, not all of us have embraced the world of online shopping.

If you’re interested in doing more online shopping, here are some tips to shop safely and with confidence.

Is this website secure?

When you share financial information like your credit card details with an online seller, make sure the web address includes “https://”. You can also look for a locked padlock symbol.

Is this website legal?

When it comes to certain specialty products, there are ways to check if the site is legal and the products sold are safe to consume. Beware of websites asking for e-transfer or cryptocurrency payments, and if the website states that they ship anywhere in Canada, that is an illegal vendor and your shipment may be seized.

Is it too good to be true?

As always, if you see a deal way too good to be true, take another look. Chances are you’ll find some red flags. If there’s no way anyone would sell the product that cheaply – they probably aren’t.

Comparison shop

Just like you might check different stores at a local mall, check out various websites selling the product you want, so you have a realistic sense of pricing.

Read the terms and conditions

Make sure to read the fine print before you pay so you know your options if you have to return the item. Some stores will cover return shipping, while others will not. Some outlets will have a quick 14-day turnaround for returns or exchanges, while others will give you more time. Some might advertise free return shipping, but charge you a restocking fee instead, or charge for taxes and duties if the product is crossing the border.

Take online reviews with a grain of salt

Online product reviews can sometimes be paid for by the company selling the product, so they may not always provide the best insight. Don’t just look at the highest and lowest ratings, and check if the product has reviews from a wide range of time. Check a few different sites and sources for reviews.

Pay with your credit card

It’s best to pay online with your credit card or a secure service such as PayPal. They have consumer protections that allow you to dispute the charges if you need to, unlike your debit card or an e-transfer. Review your banking and credit card statements regularly and you’ll notice if anything is amiss. 

Online shopping is usually safe and secure, but it’s important to keep your eyes open to stay safe.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contacted by a scammer or misled by marketing tactics, report it to the Competition Bureau at (NC)

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