Online shoppers have been warned to be on the lookout for scams as we approach some of the busiest e-commerce days of the year.
ardaí have issued a 10-point guide to avoid scams, which cost average losses of €2,300 per incident.
The golden rules of online shopping were produced after gardaí said that in the first 10 months of this year close to 500 shopping frauds have been reported to it.
- Gardaí advised online shoppers to only buy from trusted sources. Make sure you have the name and full contact details, including postal address, of the web trader so you know who you are dealing with. Do not rely on just an e-mail address or a post office box.
- Consumers were advised to understand the risk and to think twice before purchasing. Read the terms and conditions of sale and purchase on all websites before engaging in purchases and check the delivery and shipping conditions before you pay for your product.
- It is also worth checking the seller’s reviews and ratings before purchasing, and ensure data transfer is secure, the gardaí said. Check for trust marks. These are electronic labels on websites that indicate that the e-trader has agreed to follow the rules and regulations of a trust mark scheme, like the EU Trusted Shops Guarantee, and click on the trust mark to verify its official registration.
- Ensure data transfer is secure. Do not disclose personal information that is not necessary to complete a financial transaction online. Certain personal details, combined with your credit card number, place you at risk of identity theft.
- Shoppers should save all documents related to online purchases in case there is a dispute about the transaction.
- If you do not make a purchase, you should not leave identity or card details behind.
- Consumers should also check the website payment security, An Garda Síochána said. If you are asked for a prepayment, avoid paying by bank transfer if you do not have experience with the trader. A locked (closed) padlock is an icon that indicates a secure internet connection.
- People were told to never send card details by email, text or other messaging methods.
- And consumers should not send money to someone they do not know.
- Online shoppers were also advised to use credit cards when buying online as it may be possible to use charge-back to get a refund if there is a problem with the purchase.
Gardaí gave an example of a 69-year-old man from Co Laois who purchased a JCB online for €15,000.
The JCB was not delivered as requested.
A website had been set up to advertise machinery from a fake company.
Chief superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: “Whether you are going shopping online for the first time, or continuously shop, online be careful.
“Do your research. What are you buying? Where is it available and why is it only available at this one price on this website that you have seen?”
And a survey conducted for Ulster Bank found that a fifth of respondents who shop online say they would click on a link if it promised them a great deal.
One in five of 18 to 24 year-old respondents have shared their online banking Pin (personal identification number) with someone either verbally, via text or online.
It comes ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday later this month, with more people already shopping online due to Level 5 restrictions. And the oneset of Christmas shopping is also tempting more e-commerce spending.