The number of reported incidents of fraud related to online shopping increased by 50% between 2019 and 2020.
An Garda Síochána have said that Irish consumers lost €22 million in credit and debit card fraud incidents related to online shopping last year.
This fraud is where the buyer doesn’t receive the goods after making payments, or can receive fake or counterfeit goods that don’t match what was advertised.
The seller can also be the victim in this crime, in incidents where goods are dispatched, but no payment is received.
This has become more prevalent in the past year, as the lockdowns imposed during the COVID-19 crisis have resulted in a surge of online shopping.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is advising people to always make sure that you always shop on secure websites, and make sure that it is not cloned or fake.
Look for trust seals on website homepages, and check the url for “https” at the beginning of the web address and a padlock symbol displayed beside the URL to ensure the connection is secure.
Know the website’s policy on refunds and know your consumer rights. Where selling platforms offer an official, safe way of paying, use this rather than sending money directly to a third party – otherwise use an online payment option such as PayPal, which helps to protect you.
When specifically using auction sites, be wary of people with buying things from people with little or no selling history, and also when a seller is trying to create a sense of urgency.
Definitely do not send personal or financial information via email, and avoid purchasing through social media, or where an offer came to you through social media.
The GNECB has also said that you should check the IBAN of the bank the seller wants you to send money to. If it is in a different country than where they say they are, this should be considered a red flag.