Shoppers warned of online scammers on Black Friday
Shoppers have been warned by gardaí about the risks of having their bank details stolen when they make purchases online.
It has also emerged that people buying online are most likely to encounter problems having the goods delivered to them, and end up with difficulties getting refunds.
The State's consumer enforcement agency said there was a 23pc rise in complaints from online shoppers last year.
The revelation from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) comes days ahead of Black Friday, when retailers offer discounts online and in stores.
Online shoppers complained to the CCPC that they did not have goods they ordered delivered, or the items were not delivered in time.
Consumers also contacted the agency because they were unable to secure refunds from online sites when returning something they were unhappy with, or because the item did not arrive.
Gardaí appealed to shoppers to take greater precautions when buying on the internet to avoid online theft.
Detective Garda Jim O'Meara, of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, said: "The message we want to get out to people is to protect your payment card as if it was cash."
Gardaí quoted banking figures indicating half of Irish people now shop online. Some €13bn was spent online by consumers using credit and debit cards last year.
Up to a third of people who shop online now do so through their mobile phones.
Senior members of An Garda Síochána insisted the force and its partners in Europol were actively targeting cyber crimes such as online fraud, which often originate outside the country.
The public needs to be aware that the proceeds from these fraudulent activities go to fund organised criminal gangs, senior officers warned.
A recent Central Statistics Office household survey found 79pc of people who made purchases online did not experience any problems.
But 2pc of online shoppers reported fraudulent activity.
There was a fall in card fraud in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year.
Some €21m of transactions were thought to be fraudulent in the first six months of 2016, with the level of fraud falling to €17m in the first half of this year.
Despite this, fraud awareness and payments manager at the Banking and Payments Federation Niamh Davenport advised consumers and businesses to take more care.
"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.
"Always independently check the person is who they say they are before engaging with them and as always - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is," Ms Davenport added.
Deputy CEO of Retail Excellence Lorraine Higgins urged retailers to be prepared to take advantage of the forthcoming shopping sprees, this Friday, and on Cyber Monday, which is next week.
She said Black Friday sales were becoming an increasingly important part of retailers' strategies.
Protect yourself when shopping on the web
Online shoppers have been advised to take precautions to avoid having their card details compromised.
Here is An Garda Síochána's advice for online shoppers.
- If you are not buying a specific product or service, don't submit your card details.
- Avoid doing your online shopping at sites that don't use full authentication.
- Never send your card number, Pin or any other card information to anyone by email.
- When purchasing something online from another person, do not send money upfront.
- Never send your card details in an unencrypted email.
- Don't send money to anyone you don't know online.
- Always save all documents related to your online purchase.
- Regularly check bank statements and transactions for any suspicious activity.
- If you have suspicions about an online transaction, check your account online to see if the payment was made to the genuine retailer.
- Report suspicious transactions to your Garda station and to your bank or card processor.
- Never give banking security details such as full banking password, codes or log-in details, or Pin to anyone.