Gardaí outlines ‘golden rules’ to avoid shopping scams over Christmas

Gardaí have issued a series of “golden rules” to avoid falling victim to online shopping scams in the coming weeks.

The force has warned that cybercrime incidents are increasing in the run-up to and during the holiday season.

Investigators said victims of shopping or purchase fraud often trick their hard-earned money in a variety of ways, including stealing credit information or not delivering goods. In some cases, counterfeit items are sold under false pretenses.

To avoid online fraud, Gardaí said the public should take the following preventive measures when shopping online.

“Buy from trusted sources. Make sure the website you are on is real and not cloned or fake. Before purchasing, make sure the web address begins with ‘https’ and has a padlock icon next to the URL – this indicates a secure connection,” said a spokesman for garda.

“Another way to tell if a website is legit or not is to look for the trustmarks. Trustmarks are often placed on homepages, login pages, and checkout pages. They are instantly recognizable and remind visitors that they are safe on this site. You can click on them to see if they are real.

“Know the site’s policy on refunds and know your consumer rights. If selling platforms offer an official, secure payment method, use that instead of sending money directly to a third party – otherwise, use an online payment option like PayPal, which will help protect you.

“Check their payment methods, there should be credit cards. Never transfer money directly or pay cash. Make sure the data transfer is secure. If a website asks you to send money to a random PayPal address, transfer it via Western Union, pay with iTunes gift cards, or just trade in cryptocurrency, it should send a red flag. Most of the time, these methods are performed to avoid verification and ensure that a transaction cannot be reversed.”

“Don’t go into offsite communications for a lower cash price. Never buy through social media or where you received the offer through social media. Never use public WiFi when paying – switch to 3G/4G on your cell phone if necessary. Independently visit the online distributor’s website instead of clicking on social media or pop-up ads,” they added.

Gardaí said 550 cases of online shopping fraud had been reported in the period from January 1, 2022 to October 31. The average damage was €1,537 per incident, giving a total damage to Irish citizens of €845,093.31.

Meanwhile, the business world is frequently targeted by scammers using stolen or compromised credit cards, bank accounts, or payments, known as “card-not-present scams.” Companies that fall victim to this scam suffer losses as part of the “charge back” process.

Gardaí said that in the first 10 months of 2022, 1,356 cardless frauds were reported, for an average loss of €959, or €1,300,527.00 in total.

Gardaí said in a statement: “Businesses are warned to protect their sales and revenue by identifying risks: know your product, know your customers, use secure means of payment and use reliable delivery methods. Consumers and businesses need to protect their personal information during transactions other than the normal data required to complete a transaction. This site offers advice on all aspects of online shopping.” Gardaí outlines ‘golden rules’ to avoid shopping scams over Christmas

Fry Electronics Team

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