Online shopping — What you need to know

(NC) — Canadians spend more time online than citizens of any other country. The key to staying safe when shopping online and using digital technologies is knowing where the risks may be and how to protect yourself.

While most shopping sites are credible, there are those that prey on trusting consumers.

To protect yourself while shopping online, follow these tips:

-- Know who you're dealing with. Look for phone numbers, e-mail addresses and street addresses so you can follow up if needed.

-- Know exactly what you're buying. The vendor should tell you everything you need to know about the product to make a satisfactory purchase, such as size, colour, weight, warranties and other important product features.

-- Know what you're agreeing to. Look for detailed information about the terms of sale, the company's privacy and complaint policies, and the expected delivery date and costs.

-- Read the return policy. The vendor should outline the return policy and any fees associated with it such as shipping costs.

-- Know exactly what you're paying. Ask for the total price, including taxes, shipping, insurance and handling. International orders may be subject to customs and brokerage fees.

-- Look for secure payment methods, like an icon of a closed padlock and for an address with https:// as the “s” indicates a secure site.

-- Be cautious. Never give your credit card information before entering a site and never buy into unsolicited offers you receive by e-mail.

The Canadian Consumer Handbook (, produced by federal, provincial and territorial governments, offers great tips for safe online shopping.


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