Shoppers tempted to avoid the festive crowds by going online for Christmas presents are being warned of the pitfalls of shopping online.
According to internet security firm Eset, Ireland is one of the top European online festive spenders and predict that many of us will once again log on to source the best Christmas gifts this year.
Therefore, it has come up with tips to make online shopping a safe and enjoyable experience.
Research: If you want to buy something from a less well-known website, spend five minutes googling it. If it is not legitimate, you will quickly find out.
Third-party sellers: Websites such as Amazon and eBay allow third-party users to set up “shops”. If you intend to buy from one, then check their rating and what users are saying about them;
Secure payments: Be sure to look for the padlock and https:// in the address bar. These indicate a secure webpage, meaning your details will be transmitted securely.
Payment detail storage: Some websites will ask if you want to store your payment details, while others will require you to consciously opt out of having them stored. While it is very convenient to have your payment information stored if you frequently use a website, it does potentially place your details in danger.
Payment method: Most websites will require your credit card to make your purchase. However, you could use PayPal or WorldPay. These provide an extra layer of protection between the world and your actual bank details.
Eset adds: “Be sure to keep an eye on your bank statements. Be on the lookout for small ‘under the radar’ payments or possible overpayments that could indicate that your card has been compromised. If you do notice anything then be sure to report it ASAP to your bank.”
Meanwhile, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has warned there are risks to buying gift vouchers as Christmas presents.
It said consumers should try to minimise that risk by always checking the terms and conditions, including the expiry date, what happens to any used part, and whether a voucher can be used in every outlet if the shop is part of a chain. It also advised buying vouchers that can be used at more than one outlet or chain.
“Some shops do not have a clear gift voucher expiry policy but others do try to make sure that consumers are made aware of this by printing the policy or expiry date on the voucher itself, or by making it clear on their website and in their shops,” said CCPC. “Always check if there is an expiry date printed on the voucher and if not, ask the shop.”
CCPC said expiry dates vary widely, with some shops giving the bearer just six months to redeem the voucher, and that if a gift voucher is lost, the shop does not have to replace it.
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