Irish consumers who buy online are being warned to make purchases only on secure websites as more than €4bn in e-commerce purchases using cards is expected to be made between November and December.
The Gardaí and FraudSmart- a bank-funded organisation - issued the alert and urged consumers to be extra cautious in their online activity on Black Friday and Cyber Monday and to make purchases using only secure websites, where ‘https’ and a padlock symbol are shown.
Olivia Buckley, head of fraud prevention at FraudSMART, said well over €4bn is expected to be spent online with payment cards throughout November and December. “Purchasing online is growing amongst Irish consumers; €41.3bn of purchases were made with cards in the first nine months of this year alone with some €20.1bn of that spending carried out online, almost double the amount for the same period in 2015.”
“In the region of 75% of all card fraud occurs online, so serious caution is required when purchasing goods or services,” she said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau urged consumers to be aware of the potential for fraud.
"People should be particularly careful when high-value products are offered at prices significantly under market value and when there is a demand for payment in advance to a person or entity that are not known or not clearly identifiable,” he said.
Meanwhile, Revenue is cautioning consumers to be aware of hidden taxes and charges when they are buying goods online in the run-up to Christmas and discount days such as Black Friday.
They are reminding shoppers that while the cost of goods advertised online can appear attractively low, it may be because tax and duty has not been included in the advertised price.
Depending on where the consumers buy the goods, they may be liable for additional charges when the goods arrive in Ireland, particularly if they come from outside of the EU.
"If goods have a customs value, including cost, transport, insurance and handling charges, of more than €22 you will have to pay VAT," Maureen Dalton, Principal Officer in Revenue's Customs Division explained.
If your goods alone cost more than €150 you will have to pay Customs Duty plus VAT. This means, for example, that an item of clothing bought online from the US, at an equivalent cost of €175, could cost an additional €76.08 in Customs Duty, insurance and handling fees.
However, it's not just goods coming from outside of the EU. Some goods that arrive from another EU country could also be subject to charges such as excise duty and VAT.