Holiday tips for smart consumers

Press Release

The holiday season is a time to give, but it also is a time when some people may try to take advantage of the giving spirit.
To help families protect themselves, Ontario is offering some consumer tips on purchasing gift cards, donating to charities, and shopping online.
These include:
•gift cards are as good as cash—keep them in a safe place;
•keep your gift card receipt as a guarantee of the value of the card (the recipient may need it if the card is lost or stolen);
•give only to familiar charities, or check diligently before making a donation;
•ask questions about the charity and how your money will be spent;
•when shopping online, purchase from a reputable business; and
•protect credit card numbers and personal information (use secure websites to purchase gifts online).
Helping consumers make informed choices is part of the McGuinty government’s commitment to educate, protect, and serve Ontarians by ensuring a fair and safe marketplace.
“We encourage Ontario families to enjoy the holidays and feel good about giving, but we urge Ontarians to be smart consumers,” stressed Consumer Services minister Margarett Best.
Ontario was the first province to ban expiry dates on gift cards and certificates holding a specific dollar amount in 2007.
But fees and expiry dates still can apply to some types of cards and certificates. Read and understand the terms and conditions before purchasing.
The Canada Revenue Agency and CanadaHelps websites list registered charities.
As well, gifts like electronics or sports equipment need to meet Canadian safety standards.
Watch for this when shopping online internationally.