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Here's what to do to avoid being scammed while doing your online shopping

The Gardaí have issued advice for shoppers hoping to embark on an online spending spree for the festive period.

Last year, Irish people spent €41bn using credit and debit cards with €13.2bn of that spent online.

In the first half of this year, there was €16.6m in card fraud in this country, with data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealing that 2% of customers reporting problems with fraudulent activity.

More than 50% of Irish people shop online, according to the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland who, along with the Gardaí and Retail Excellence, are launching the S.O.S. (Safe Online Shopping) campaign ahead of Cyber Monday.

Sergeant Kelvin Courtney, of the Garda Crime Prevention National Centre of Excellence, said: "Cyber Monday and the run-up to Christmas is a time when increased numbers of consumers go online to get the last minute deal.

"Shopping online is safe so long as we use our Credit/Debit cards correctly. We are asking people to take greater precautions when shopping online then they would if purchasing in the shops."

Gardaí say that the most common methods for criminals to steal card data are by skimming, email (phishing) scams or phone (vishing or smishing) scams.

So if you want to be part of the 79% of people shopping online who had no problems with fraud, you should follow these Golden Rules for safe online shopping:

    The Do's

  • Only buy from trusted sources, shops or brands that you are familiar with;
  • Use credit cards when purchasing things online;
  • Make sure the data transfer is appropriately protected. Look for the padlock symbol Think twice before allowing e-merchant stores to store your payment details;
  • Be aware how to control the recurring charge if paying for a continuous service online;
  • Always save all documents related to your online purchases.

    The Don't's

  • If you are not buying a specific product or service, don’t submit your card details;
  • Avoid doing your online shopping at sites that don’t use full authentication;
  • Never send your Card number, PIN or any other card information to anyone by email;
  • When purchasing something online from another person, do not send money up front;
  • Never send your card details in an unencrypted email;
  • Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know online.


  • Regularly check statements and transactions for any frauds or suspicious activity;
  • If you have a suspicion about an online transaction check your account online to ascertain if the payment was made to the genuine retailer;
  • Report suspicious transactions to your local Garda station and to your bank or card processor.

Detective Superintendent Michael Gubbins, Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau, said "An Garda Síochána and its partners in Europol are actively targeting cybercrimes such as online fraud. The public need to be aware that the proceeds from these fraudulent activities go to fund organised criminal gangs."

Overall fraud on card payments is relatively low, but of the fraud that occurs, since the introduction of Chip and PIN, card not-present fraud has accounted for the bulk of card fraud.

Detective Garda Jim O’Meara of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, said: "We had noticed a sharp rise in the level of Card Not Present fraud activity from 2015 to 2016, thankfully a downward trend in this type of fraud is noticeable for the first six months of this year.

"We would caution people to protect their personal and financial details online. If purchasing online only trust your own Wi-Fi networks as opposed to public Wi-Fi where you could be vulnerable to having your payment card details compromised and then sold on the dark web."

Niamh Davenport, Fraud Awareness and Payments Manager, Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, said it is often a simple or easy measure that can protect people against fraud.

    FraudSMART.ie top tips include:

  • Never give your personal details or banking security details such as full banking password, codes /logon details, or PIN to anyone;
  • Be wary of unexpected emails, calls or texts;
  • Always independently check the person is who they say they are before engaging with them and;
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.