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Consumers warned about new online scam advertising cheap flights

Consumers are advised not to use public Wi-Fi when buying things online, and to ensure ‘https’ is before the website address.

Image: Shutterstock/godshutter

FRAUD AWARENESS GROUP FraudSMART has issued a “serious warning” to consumers to watch out for an online scam that appears to be advertising cheap flights, but instead tricks people into buying something else instead. 

FraudSMART, which is the fraud awareness initiative of Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, said that websites trick consumers into unknowingly purchasing other goods, “including €1,200 worth of precious metals traded by fraudsters”.

Head of Fraud Prevention at BPFI Olivia Buckley said that customers should “independently visit” the website of the sales company they’re about to buy something from, as opposed to clicking on social media or pop-up ads.

“Consumers should also be cautious about availing of special offers – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” she said.

Buckley advised people:

One of the real dangers with fraudulent online adverts is that they appear to be extremely authentic and consumers can easily be lured into clicking on the advert and making purchases quickly, before checking out the detail.

“That is why it is so vital to independently visit the company website to check its authenticity.”

“It is also vital that when consumers receive a notification from their bank, by way of an SMS or In App message, with a passcode required to complete an action/transaction that they fully read and understand the message before proceeding.”

Buckley also advised consumers to use secure websites when purchasing online.

The website address should be ‘https’ before the purchase is made, indicating a secure connection. Consumers should also use sites where a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address.

She also warned consumers not to use public Wi-Fi when making online payments but switch to 3G/4G.

FraudSMART is a fraud awareness initiative developed by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland in conjunction with AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, PermanentTSB, Ulster Bank and An Post.

The aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends and provide simple and impartial advice on how best they can protect themselves and their resources.

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