Tips to Help Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

Tips to Help Protect Yourself When Shopping Online
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Black Friday and Cyber Monday (November 27th and November 30th, 2015) mark the start of the holiday shopping season for many Ontarians. With a growing number of consumers choosing to shop online, it’s the perfect time to brush up on safe online practices before you order a product or service.

Follow these five steps to help make the online shopping experience a positive one.

Never use a public Wi-Fi network for online transactions.

While it’s convenient to browse on-the-go, public Wi-Fi connections at places like coffee shops or bookstores do not offer the security recommended for a financial transaction. A strong password-protected connection at home is your best bet for safer shopping.

Make sure the final payment webpage is secure.

Before sharing personal or financial information online, confirm that the final payment web page for your purchase is protected with encryption. Security features are different for every web browser so take the time to learn the basics for the one you prefer to use. The two most common signs of a secure page for any browser are:

  • The web address begins with “https” (for example,
  • A padlock symbol that you can click to see the security information.

Check for additional charges.

There may be taxes, duty and other shipping and handling charges included in your purchase, especially when buying internationally. Make sure you understand any additional charges included in the final price and double check the listed currency. If the listed price isn’t in Canadian currency, the exchange rate can affect the final price you pay.

Get to know the refund policy.

Ontario businesses are not generally required to offer refunds or exchanges, so it’s important that you check each business’ policy before making your purchase. Look around the web page for FAQs and the terms of the sale, and make sure they work for you.

Save or print the payment confirmation page.

The confirmation page summarizes your purchase before you complete it. The business must provide you with an opportunity to accept or decline the terms of agreement and correct any errors. Once you accept the terms of agreement, it acts as your Internet agreement with the business.

Quick Facts

  • When you buy online, you are entering into a type of consumer agreement known as an Internet agreement. If you spend more than $50 on the online transaction, the Consumer Protection Act has rules that apply.
  • The business must also provide you with a written copy of the Internet agreement within 15 days after you enter into the agreement.
  • In 2014, Consumer Protection Ontario handled 772 inquiries and complaints related to online transactions and purchases.

Visit to learn more about Internet security and the simple steps you can take to protect yourself online.

November 27, 2015 – Ministry of Government and Consumer Services


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