An Garda Síochána and Europol have issued 12 golden rules for safe online shopping ahead of Black Friday on November 24.
Some of these include shopping from trusted sites and checking that the URL of the website carries a padlock icon or the HTTPS application protocol.
“The traditional shopping period of December 8 has come forward now to Black Friday, which we have imported from America, and Cyber Monday, which is when people in modern times are commencing their shopping,” said Detective Superintendent Michael Gubbins, head of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau.
“Years ago, we’d be giving people advice about, if they came to Dublin or the big city centres, to mind their chequebook or mind their cash from having their pocket dipped.
“But now we have to think: Where are the people? Where is the community going now? Something like 30% of people will shop online [using their mobile phone] this Christmas.”
Det Supt Gubbins was speaking yesterday at the launch of the Safe Online Shopping campaign, which is being rolled out by An Garda Síochána in conjunction with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland and Retail Excellence, in advance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday on November 27.
Niamh Davenport, the federation’s fraud manager, said the “sophistication” of online scams can trick people.
“The sophistication of scams can often confuse and distract people,” she said. “They’re quite convincing, whether it’s an advert on Facebook or a website that appears to be quite genuine.”
Ms Davenport said that, from the federation’s research, 58% of people in Ireland believe they are more vulnerable to fraud now than two years ago.
According to the Safe Online Shopping campaign, last Christmas more than 50% of Irish people shopped online, a 15.4% increase from December 2015 to December 2016.
For the whole of 2016, €41bn was spent on credit and debit cards issued in Ireland — €13.2bn of it was spent online. The trends are expected to grow, according to Retail Excellence.
Deputy chief executive Lorraine Higgins said: “With the development of the internet and internet shopping, we see double-digit growth in terms of desktop purchasing. We see an increase in the number of people who are buying on their handsets, from work, and so on.
“The fact that 84% of people will buy frequently online by 2020, according to the Department of Communications’ figures, it’s really important that we all be on the curve when it comes to combating the kind of crimes that are now popping up.”
Some of the tips issued by the campaign yesterday include regularly checking your bank statements for fraudulent transactions and to never shop through an unsecured or free wifi connection.
An Garda Síochána also outlined the top four ways that criminals obtain payment card details. These are through skimming, which usually occurs at ATMs and happens when criminals place a device into the card slot of the ATM. A second way is through phishing, where criminals send unsolicited emails to induce people to reveal card details.
Vishing — voice phishing — is similar except the unsolicited contact comes via a phone call. This is also being done through SMS text messages, known as smishing.