Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Avoiding online fraud

Online fraud

There’s not too much time left to purchase Christmas gifts online, but if you are buying digitally you should be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid falling victim to fraud. It’s not an insignificant problem – more than half of Irish people shop online and the first six months of 2017 saw €16.6 million in card fraud. Two per cent of customers have had issues with fraudulent activity.

“Shopping online is safe so long as we use our credit/debit cards correctly,” said Sergeant Kelvin Courtney, Garda Crime Prevention National Centre of Excellence. “We are asking people to take greater precautions when shopping online than they would if purchasing in the shops.”

So how can you avoid fraud while shopping online?

Make sure you’re buying from a trusted source. If you receive an email or spot a Facebook post about a good deal, visit their website separately rather than following a link. Sometimes fraudsters can redirect you to a fake website that looks like the real thing but instead is set up to snare your details. Make sure the domain name (i.e. www.example.com) sounds right and browse around to make sure nothing seems suspicious. If it’s a smaller company, do a quick Google search for previous customer experiences.

Check for encryption. If you’re happy that you’re buying from a genuine retailer, make sure your payment will be encrypted by checking for a padlock icon at the beginning of the address bar and a URL that begins with ‘https’ instead of ‘http’.

Don’t buy on public Wi-Fi. If you’re purchasing online, do so at home on your private network or using 3G or 4G data – this will help prevent attackers from stealing your information via unsecured public hotspots.

Stay secure. Always make sure your computer’s security is up-to-date, as this can help prevent malicious attacks or software being installed on your device without you realising it. If you haven’t got any, PC Mag has got a handy round-up of the best free options for 2017.

Keep an eye on your bank statements for any suspicious transactions. If you spot something you don’t recognise, contact your bank and local garda station immediately.

Use common sense. If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If you come across an expensive item available at an unbelievably low price, it should be an immediate red flag. Never send money up front, or provide your financial information via email.

Use a third party provider. If you’re still worried about your information falling into the wrong hands, use a third party payments service like PayPal for an extra layer of security.

For more tips on how you can stay safe this holiday season, visit FraudSmart.ie.

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When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money’s editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.

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