Local police are opening up their parking lot in the hopes of reducing fraud when it comes to online purchases.
As part of Project Safe Trade, Collingwood OPP and the Town of Collingwood, have teamed up in an effort to prevent fraud related to online purchases from classified and auction sites.
There are two parking spots at the Collingwood OPP detachment now signed as an Internet Purchase Exchange Zone.
The idea is to give people a public, well-lit space where they can pick up and pay for purchases arranged online.
“We’re hoping, with a police presence so close, this eliminates unlawful behaviour,” said Media Relations Officer Martin Hachey. “Online transactions happen more and more. Project Safe Trade aims to increase public safety.”
The safe trade parking spots are available at all times with no appointment. The spots are not monitored, and OPP cannot mediate the transactions that occur on those sites, according to Hachey.
While he didn’t have statistics on instances of fraud related to online purchases in Collingwood area, he said the nationwide statistics suggest 95 per cent of Internet or telephone scams, frauds, and thefts go unreported.
Collingwood OPP recommend those purchasing something from a seller they’ve only met online should arrange a meeting in a busy place.
“You don’t get a more public place than this,” said Hachey from the Collingwood OPP detachment.
OPP also recommend bringing a trusted friend or family member as a witness during the meeting, keep transactions to daylight hours, and do not erase emails, texts, or voicemails between you and the seller or buyer.
Hachey said it’s dangerous to conduct these sorts of transactions from your home, as the buyer or seller is usually a stranger and therefore shouldn’t be invited to a private residence.
Though the transaction might be occurring in the police station parking lot, officers will not be checking serial numbers for items. If you would like more information about an item such as a firearm, vehicle, boat, or electronic item, you can check the serial number online on the Canadian Police Information Centre website. That site includes the serial numbers of items reported stolen in Canada.
“Our hope is that this will deter criminal behaviour,” said Community Safety Officer Const. Marcey Rivers.
Rivers said the Collingwood detachment does hear of Internet and telephone scams and thefts, but said there’s “a lot of things we really can’t resolve.”
For more information on Project Safe Trade, visit the website here.