Online shopping scams: handle with care

News release

Learn to recognize, reject and report it - #2G2BT

March 13, 2018 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

Shopping for good deals online? Here’s the real deal: online purchase scams cost Canadians more than $13 million in 2017. From subscription traps, to counterfeit goods, to vendors that vanish out of thin air, shopping online must be done with a certain degree of caution.

Tomorrow, March 14, is the 6th annual “Too Good to Be True Day”. Tune in to #2G2BT on Twitter at 1:00 p.m. and join the conversation to learn more about online shopping scams. Avoiding fraud is all about knowing how to recognize the signs, reject the claims that seem too good to be true and report them to the authorities. 

Before you check out, make sure it checks out. Spot the red flags:

  • Spelling mistakes: be skeptical of emails, messages or websites that contain misspelled common words.
  • Sketchy URL: examine the URL of the website closely to make sure it is the real website and not a fake one.
  • Reviews: check the vendor’s feedback. If there is none, or very little, don’t take a chance.
  • Pre-checked boxes: be skeptical of websites that pre-check boxes for you when you check out. It could be a trap.
  • Terms and conditions: don’t trust a website that hides their terms and conditions or makes them difficult to read.
  • It's just too good to be true: trust your instinct. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Recognize and reject fraud when shopping online with the following tips:

  • Buy from companies or individuals you know by reputation or from past experience.
  • Before checking out, make sure you’re still on a reputable website and have not been redirected to a third-party page.
  • Beware of sellers from far away or that have limited or no reviews.
  • Use a credit card when shopping online; many offer protection and may give you a refund.
  • Regularly check your credit card statements for frequent or unknown charges.

If you have information about online purchase scams, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501) or the Competition Bureau (1-800-348-5358).

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The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.

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