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Gardaí issue warning ahead of Black Friday as €4 billion worth of online sales expected in next month

Gardaí said the potential for fraud increases around the Christmas period.

Image: Shutterstock/tuthelens

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED consumers to only make purchases using secure websites as it is estimated we will spend over €4 billion on our cards in the next month.

The Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) along with gardaí issued the strong warning and said people should only use secure websites. They were advised to check that the website is showing a ‘https’ address and that a padlock symbol is on display.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said the potential for fraud increases around the Christmas period.

He said: “As the pre-Christmas rush draws thousands of shoppers online, we urge that people be aware of the potential for fraud, whether they are buying or selling a product.

“People should be particularly careful when high value products are offered at prices significantly under market value and when there is a demand for payment in advance to a person or entity that are not known or not clearly identifiable.”

Olivia Buckley, who is the head of fraud BPFI’s FraudSMART initiative, said well over €4 billion is expected to be spent online with payment cards throughout November and December.

“Almost €12 billion was spent using cards between November and December last year, with well over €4 billion of that spend accounted for by e-commerce . Purchasing online is growing amongst Irish consumers; €41.3 billion of purchases were made with cards in the first nine months of this year alone with some €20.1 billion of that spending carried out online, almost double the amount for the same period in 2015.”

Buckley added that in the region of 75% of all card fraud occurs online, so serious caution is required when purchasing goods or services.

The large volumes of online purchases expected to be made this week means fraudsters will be attempting to lure consumers into fraudulent websites, while posing as authentic suppliers, she added.

FraudSMART and gardaí said there are some critical pieces of advice that consumers must follow to help protect their finances and their bank account.

• Use secure websites. The website address should be ‘https’ before the purchase is made, indicating a secure connection
• Use sites where a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address
• Do not under any circumstances use public Wi-Fi when making payments – switch to 3G/4G on your phone if necessary
• Independently visit the website of the online sales company as opposed to clicking on social media or pop-up adverts
• Be cautious about claiming outrageous offers – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is
• Stick to well-known websites or websites that you are familiar with or websites associated with high street retail outlets
Consumers can get advice on how to avoid fraud by visiting www.FraudSMART.ie

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