Consumer Protection Office Advises Manitobans to Know Their Rights Any Time They Make Purchases Online

The Consumer Protection Office wants to ensure consumers are protected and have the information they need to make informed decisions while shopping online, especially during the busy holiday season.

Today is Black Friday, a significant shopping day for traditional shoppers.  This coming Monday is Cyber Monday and is the online equivalent when shoppers are tempted to make purchases using the Internet.

There are a number of steps that consumers can take to make their online shopping experience positive.  Before entering any financial information online, consumers are advised to make sure they are using a secure site.  A secure site should have the following features:

* an icon – usually a lock shown in the locked position at the bottom of the screen; and

* a website address beginning with https:// (the ‘s’ indicates the site is secure).

Consumers are advised to research a company before making a purchase.  A quick Internet search may reveal if other consumers have had problems with the seller.  Contacting organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre may also provide information relating to a company’s reputation.  Finally, before paying, consumers need to check the terms and conditions of the purchase and confirm the final price.

Even if consumers take steps to protect themselves while shopping online, they may still encounter difficulties with a transaction.  The Consumer Protection Act helps online shoppers by:

* protecting against the unauthorized use of credit card information,

* limiting a consumer’s liability to $50 when credit card information is used without proper authorization,

* providing the opportunity to cancel an Internet sale if the seller fails to deliver goods or services, and

* requiring credit card companies to reverse or cancel a credit card charge if the consumer was entitled to but did not receive a refund from the vendor.

By knowing the rules and becoming informed about rights under the law, consumers will enjoy safer online shopping experiences, not only on Cyber Monday and during the holiday season but all year round.

For more information, shoppers are encouraged to contact the Consumer Protection Office at 204-945-3800, 1-800-782-0067 (toll-free) in Manitoba, via email at [email protected] or visit the website at www.gov.mb.ca/cca/cpo.