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Smartphone users are 33% more likely to fall victim to identity fraud

Cross-border scams for fraudulent tickets, counterfeit goods and data phishing are increasingly common, says survey

A NEW SURVEY by the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) shows that the most common scams involving fraudulent e-commerce transactions involve fake items or tickets, counterfeit products, alleged free trials, data phishing and the purchasing of used cars online.

Over 70 per cent of participants reported fraudulent websites, many of which entice consumers by offering items such as phones at cheap prices only to demand further payment for delivery or customs charges.

Smartphones

The advent of easy-to-use smartphone has increased the likelihood of users being a victim of fraud, with the survey finding that smartphone users are 33 per cent more likely to fall victim to identity fraud than the general public.

Phones tend to be less secure than regular computers, said ECC-Net and, who warned that consumers were less vigilant with their personal information when using them.

The survey found that consumers often pay significant sums of money for tickets that are never delivered and which may not even exist. While more than 30 per cent of participants reported instances of consumers being caught out by “free” trials of a product or service which then turned out to be a front for costly subscription services.

Counterfeit goods

The ECC-Net said the proliferation of counterfeit products, reported by 41 per cent of participants,  is particularly worrying as the purchasing these items is considered a criminal offence in some European countries.

Other growing scams include gaming fraud, animal rescue tricks, and online dating fraud – the latter particularly devastating, as fraudsters often spend long periods of time building a bond with the victim only to then seek money for supposed travel or health issues.

Caroline Curneen, Assistant Legal Advisor at ECC Ireland said with Irish consumers spending over €4.1 billion on online shopping in 2012, “it’s more important than ever to be informed and vigilant about fraudulent behaviour”.  She added:

Regrettably, consumers encounter scams online with disheartening frequency. Fraudsters are becoming ever-more inventive and sophisticated in their approaches and it is crucial that consumers remain vigilant and are aware of the latest threats.
Tips for shopping online this Christmas include:
  • Be vigilant with personal details
  • Buying from reputable traders
  • Pay with a safe method
  • And remembering, that if it seems to be good to be true it probably is

Read: Former solicitor charged over alleged €2.8 million fraud>

Read: Thomas Byrne sentenced to 12 years in jail for fraud and theft>

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