Friday, December 12, 2008

BBB's “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips”

This year, BBB is offering a “Top 10 Online Shopping Tips” for holiday shoppers to help prevent being taken in by unscrupulous online retailers, scammers and hackers.

1. Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a secure firewall.

2. Use trustworthy Web sites – Shoppers should start with BBB to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. Always look for a “trustmark” from BBBOnLine and click on that seal to confirm that it’s valid.

3. Protect your personal information – BBB recommends taking the time to read the site’s privacy policy and understand what personal information is being requested and how it will be used. If there isn’t one posted, it should be taken as a red flag that personal information may be sold to others without permission.

4. Trust your gut – Offers on Web sites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end. If you are searching for deals in online classified ad sites like and, be careful because they do not prescreen advertisements. Choose a local site close to where you live to search for products, and communicate with the seller to arrange for pickup. Never wire money to a stranger.

5. Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the Web site where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.

6. Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (Web site address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.

7. Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card online, because the shopper can dispute the charges with their provider if he or she doesn’t receive the item. Shoppers also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on their credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it.

8. Keep documentation of your order – After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the Web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.

9. Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by checking statements online regularly.

10. Know your rights – If you have entered into the contract over the internet or phone, it may be considered a Distance Sales Contract. For more information about consumer contracts and your cancellation rights, please contact the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority (BPCPA) at 1-888-564-9963 or visit

For more advice on staying safe online this holiday season, and to see reports on thousands of online retailers, go to

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Minutes of September 24, 2008 Regular Meeting

November 26, 2008

The meeting was called to order at 7:12 pm in the Lounge of the Parish Hall of Holy Trinity Cathedral with 14 persons in attendance.

Chairperson: Lila Wood, Recorder: Miriam Smith.
Directors present: Judy Ross, Miriam Smith, Jonathan Story, Lila Wood.

M/S/C To approve the Agenda, Minutes and Treasurers Report as circulated.

Guest Speaker: Acting Mayor Bill Harper, New Westminster City Council member.

Mr. Harper reported on the outcomes of the Open House workshop and the Design Charette held in September in regard to the Downtown Community Plan. He then went over the new council’s vision for the proposed changes and improvements that will affect the downtown area. We all want to maintain a liveable, walkable city and to promote sustainable development. We have to deal with ongoing issues of homelessness, lack of child care facilities and an aging infrastructure. The city has no reserve fund for amenities. Development cost charge money will go for this purpose.

Harper fielded questions and concerns from the audience regarding a variety of issues including homelessness, new and ongoing development, Westminster Quay Market, etc.

Guest Speaker: Sue MacPhail, Canadian Cancer Society.

Sue spoke regarding the use of cosmetic or non-essential pesticides,
herbicides and fungicides and their harmful side effects on children, pets and farmers. They are also harmful to bees, frogs and fish, and can contaminate drinking water. Some stores, including Home Depot, Canadian Tire and Rona are removing these products from their shelves. We should work to eliminate their usage, particularly those that contain 24D.

At this point we decided to draft a motion:
M/S/C “Therefore be it resolved that the New Westminster Downtown Residents Association support the passing of a cosmetic pesticide by-law by the City Council of New Westminster”

Committee Reports

Homelessness Coalition
A one-hour “Stand” for Homelessness will be held November 29th at a location to be announced. Next meeting of the coalition will be 9:00 am in Holy Trinity Parish Hall. Homeless and “one pay cheque from homeless” are increasing rapidly.

Traffic Advisory Committee
New bolder and wider pedestrian crosswalks have been painted at the 4th and Carnarvon intersection. Committee next meets tomorrow.

Community Policing Committee
Complaint received regarding pedestrian safety in the construction zones at 10th Street and Carnarvon discussed and passed on to Traffic Advisory Committee.
Notice of scam regarding persons posng as fire extinguisher repair persons in order to gain entrance to premises was discussed.

Unfinished Business: None.

Next General Meeting
January 28, 2009, 7:00 pm in the Lounge of the Parish Hall at Holy Trinity Cathedral.