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New report suggests majority of shoppers still wary of online marketplaces

Ottawa police have created "Safe Trade Zones" at police stations on Elgin Street (seen here), Kanata, and Orléans. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa) Ottawa police have created "Safe Trade Zones" at police stations on Elgin Street (seen here), Kanata, and Orléans. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

While nearly a third of Ontarians have considered using peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace sites like Facebook Marketplace or Kijiji in search of a deal — specifically because of the rising cost of living — most are reluctant to do so.

Jamie-Lynn Eckhardt says she would never meet someone in person based on an online sale.

"I don't want to meet a random person in a parking lot that I've never met for a $20 chair off of Kijiji," she said.

Like many others, she has concerns. "I think as a woman buying things online, there's definitely a safety component to it and I value my safety. So I would just rather not," she tells CTV News Ottawa.

Findings from the Ontario Benchmark Report on Trust in Peer-to-Peer Marketplace Transactions found that three quarters (74 per cent) of Ontarians are uncomfortable when it comes to meeting up in-person to complete transactions and exchange goods.

Issued by portable digital identity platform goConfirm in partnership with Angus Reid, the report released Tuesday finds that 60 per cent of Ontarians are uncomfortable organizing in-person meetups to exchange goods purchased via online P2P marketplaces because of increased news reports on trending scams and frauds across popular platforms.

According to the report, women are more likely to feel uncomfortable (79 per cent) than men are (67 per cent) when it comes to organizing in-person meetups to exchange goods.

"I think peer-to-peer marketplaces have so much power to bring people together to allow for the second-hand economy to really thrive. And I think the fact that people are beginning to get concerned about what's happening there and shy away from using them as much as they can is a real lost opportunity," Kirk Simpson, cofounder and CEO of goConfirm, tells CTV News Ottawa.

Among those who feel uneasy about completing P2P transactions in-person, verifying the identity of a marketplace seller or buyer was identified as a solution that would make more than three quarters (78 per cent) of respondents feel more comfortable, according to goConfirm.

Brian Peterkin uses online marketplace sites often, and says he stays vigilant.

"It's really good deals and it works," he tells CTV News Ottawa. "I might go with a friend, but I am not worried. I just go because when you deal with the people (such as) on the phone, you can get a sense of their sincerity and honesty."

The Ottawa Police Service has created 'Safe Trade Zones' at Police Stations in Orléans, Kanata, and at headquarters on Elgin Street. While not monitored 24/7, police say the idea is to take transaction away from secluded parking lots of private residences 

In December, police warned of an increase in personal robberies, linked to online marketplaces.

The police service suggests :

  • Consult the profile of the buyer/seller to see if they have an established profile. Use caution when dealing with newly created accounts.
  • Check the buyer/seller's reviews or ratings to see if there are red flags.
  • If the price of the item seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't proceed with the sale.
  • Meet during daylight hours if you're planning to meet in person. Any last-minute changes to the location should also be considered a red flag. We recommend you walk away from the exchange rather than go to a second location.
  • Avoid vacant parking lots or properties when you meet with the other party. Top Stories

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