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Take care: Consumers warned about potential scammers ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Gardaí have issued a range of advice to help people avoid getting caught when buying online ahead of the Christmas period.

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GARDAÍ ARE URGING consumers and retailers to take all necessary precautions in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

This time of year sees a large increase in purchases being made online as people try to secure the good deals on offer ahead of the Christmas period. 

In conjunction with the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland’s (BPFI) FraudSmart initiative, gardaí have issued advice to help make sure you don’t fall prey to scammers when you’re trying to get a deal.

According to data from the BPFI, only 57% of people use credible websites when shopping on their mobile phone. Social media is used to inspire purchases for 38% of people, but this rises to 94% for 18-24 year olds. 

Card fraud costs Irish debit and credit card holders €29 million last year. 

Niamh Davenport, leading the FraudSmart programme, said: “While Black Friday provides consumers with a great chance to grab a bargain, it can also open up the perfect opportunity for scammers and hackers.

It is often a simple or easy measure that people can take to protect against fraud and it is important that consumers know these to avoid being vulnerable to fraudsters.

The top tips for shopping online centre around being informed, being alert and being secure.

People are urged to do their research, only buy from trusted sources – either shops or brands you’re familiar with or websites that friends, family or colleagues have used before.

It is also recommended not to click on links or adverts from social media but rather independently go to the website offering the deal to ensure you’re not shopping on a fake website.

Gardaí also said: “Never send your Card number, PIN or any other card information to anyone by email [and] don’t use public Wi-Fi when making payments, always switch to 3G/4G.”

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Common ways criminals can obtain payment card details include phishing – where criminals send unsolicited emails to individuals which appear to be from genuine businesses or individuals to try to get you to reveal your payment card details. Vishing is a version of this which occurs over the phone.

Retailers can also be the target of online fraud and gardaí also had advice for sellers to help them avoid incurring losses. This includes being cautious with purchases using credit/debit cards issued overseas and in a different name than the purchaser, and being aware around any bulk purchasing of gift cards and guest logins rather than creating accounts.

Detective Superintendent Gerard Walsh, from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, said: “Buying online is a very convenient way to shop particularly in the busy run up to Christmas however shopping safely online is not a given, as there are inherent risks. It is vital that people exercise caution when shopping online and follow the fraud prevention advice provided.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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