Young consumers: Spend your money wisely!



    McGuinty Government Launches Awareness Campaign For Young Consumers

    TORONTO, March 28 /CNW/ - A new consumer awareness campaign will help
young Ontarians make more informed decisions when spending or borrowing money.
    Young consumers are more vulnerable to scams and are at a higher risk for
debt problems. A recent study found that only 66 per cent of Canadians between
the ages of 21-30 consider the consequences of rising interest rates when
borrowing money.
    Consumers aged 18 to 25 have significant purchasing power, but often lack
the experience needed to protect themselves against issues like money
management, credit risk and identity theft.
    The campaign will enhance awareness for smart money-management, identity
theft and protecting yourself when making online purchases. It will target
young consumers in secondary schools, colleges and universities, and in the
workplace. The campaign will include:

    
    -   A Young Consumer Advisory Group to consult with the government
    -   An outreach program to talk with young consumers in schools and
        community centres
    -   Education modules for use by teachers in secondary schools
    -   An interactive Young Consumer E-Zone on Ontario's Consumer Protection
        website

    The announcement is the first in a series of initiatives aimed at
assisting young people during Consumer Awareness Week, which runs from
March 28 to April 4 in Ontario.

    QUOTES

    "From buying cars and homes to dealing with banks and credit companies, we
want to help young consumers make informed financial decisions," said
Government and Consumer Services Minister Ted McMeekin. "The more we can point
them in the right direction and protect them from risks, the better."
    "We're proud to join in this campaign with the Ontario government so that
more young consumers get the information they need to succeed, and as early as
possible," said Laurie Campbell, executive director of Credit Canada.

    QUICK FACTS

    -   Almost a third of Ontarians have four or more credit cards
    -   930 convictions within the last four years have been made under the
        Consumer Protection Act

    LEARN MORE

    Read more about consumer protection in Ontario at 
www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection
    For further information on credit education and debt management, visit
http://www.creditcanada.com/


    BACKGROUNDER
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                       CONSUMER PROTECTION IN ONTARIO

    Consumer Awareness
    The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services works to ensure that
Ontario consumers know their rights. A wide range of consumer information,
including printable brochures, is available online at
www.ontario.ca/consumerprotection.
    The Young Consumers Awareness Campaign (March 28 - April 4)is a new
initiative, which aims to inform a young audience with need-to-know advice on
credit and consumer issues. Themes of the campaign will include:

    -   Smart money management
    -   Credit awareness and education
    -   Avoiding identity theft
    -   Staying safe online

    The campaign will seek to work in partnership with key players in the
consumer awareness field. Some of the initiatives for this campaign will
consist of:

    -   Young Consumers' Advisory Group made up of secondary school, college,
        and university students to provide feedback on campaign initiatives
        and effectiveness
    -   Interactive Young Consumers' Zone on the Consumer Protection website,
        to be launched in June, 2008
    -   Young Consumers' Education Modules (on CDROM made available to
        Ontario secondary schools teachers)
    -   Young Consumers' Roadshow to be piloted in ten Ontario schools
        between September 2008 and March 2009

    The Consumer Protection Website provides assistance and further
information on the following subjects:

    -   The Consumer Protection Toolkit to help consumers exercise their
        rights
    -   Consumer Links to other valuable fraud prevention and consumer
        protection resources
    -   Consumer Beware List to help consumers steer clear of "problem"
        operators
    -   New Scams & Frauds and Charges & Convictions sections
    -   New Information for Businesses section with links and resources to
        help the business community understand its obligations to consumers

    Another tool to inform consumers is the smart consumer calendar updated
annually with relevant information. The 2008 smart consumer calendar provides
consumers with helpful tips and resources, while educating them about frauds
and scams in the marketplace.

    -   The ministry distributes 275,000 English and 30,000 French copies of
        the calendar to individuals and organizations across Ontario every
        year.
    -   The calendar is available at all MP and MPP constituency offices, and
        at all ServiceOntario / government information centres.

    Charges and Convictions

    The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is active in
investigating unfair business practices and bringing charges against suspect
businesses violating consumers' rights.
    Operating with authority created under the Consumer Protection Act 2002,
the branch has made significant contributions to over 930 convictions within
the last four years. These convictions, sought through Ontario's provincial
offences courts, are pursued according to several guiding principles that form
the basis of all branch investigations:

    -   marketplace fairness
    -   reliable disclosure
    -   fair value to consumers
    -   a regulatory environment that is responsive to the needs of
        businesses and consumers

    Engaging in unfair business practices is prohibited in Ontario. The
Consumer Protection Act contains 92 separate sections under its regulations
covering issues relevant to consumer agreements, including, but not limited
to:

    -   Disclosures in various types of agreements
    -   Cancellation rights
    -   Timelines for receiving and issuing refunds
    -   Monetary threshold for agreements
    -   Calculation of annual percentage rates inside credit agreements
    -   Public record / disclosure of information

    Ontario's Consumer Protection Branch administers provincial consumer law
by mediating consumers' complaints and providing them with information and
advice on their rights and investigating consumer law violations. The Branch
also regulates collection agencies, consumer reporting agencies and
cemeteries.
    Anyone with knowledge of or information about the use of unfair business
practices in Ontario should call the Consumer Protection Services Bureau
toll-free at 1-800-889-9768.

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                                                  ontario.ca/government-news
                                                      Disponible en français
    





For further information:

For further information: Greg Dennis, Minister's Office, (416) 327-3072;
Ciaran Ganley, Communications Branch, (416) 325-8659

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