Shoppers warned to be on ‘high alert’ as online payment fraud rises 21%

Fraudulent payments on cards exceeded €12m in first half of 2020, says BPFI

Industry body BFPI urged shoppers to exercise caution when shopping online. Photograph: iStock

Industry body BFPI urged shoppers to exercise caution when shopping online. Photograph: iStock


Shoppers are being warned to take extra precautions in the run up to the Easter weekend as new figures showed online payment fraud is on the rise.

According to data from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BFPI), fraudulent payments on cards totalled more than €12 million in the first half of 2020, due to more than 143,000 fake transactions.

In-store card fraud halved during the year, reflecting a change in how consumers shopped during the pandemic, online fraud was up 21 per cent over the same period.

The figures cover the first six months of 2020, with Covid-19 restrictions kicking in last March. Recent data from the Central Statistics Office showed online retail sales were up 13 per cent in March, the highest proportion of retail sales transacted online since May 2020, and with no clear date for the end of restrcitions on non-essential retail, the online shopping trend is likely to continue.

“Looking at how fraudsters are obtaining customers card information we can see that 72 per cent of all fraudulent transactions involved the theft of card details.

“Fraudsters do this mainly by using fake text messages, email scams or fake websites to get a hold of a consumer’s card details and go on to use those details to make fraudulent payments mostly online,” said Brian Hayes, BFPI chief executive.

“This is a very worrying trend that we are seeing, and we cannot stress enough the need for customers to be on high alert particularly as we approach the popular Easter shopping period and Bank Holiday weekend ahead,” he said.

‘Be vigilant’

“Despite the fact that the theft of card details led to a large majority of fraudulent transactions, lost or stolen cards still accounted for about 21 per cent of card fraud. This underlines the ongoing need for consumers to be vigilant when using their card in-store and our key advice in that regard is to always treat your card as you would your cash and keep it safe at all times.”

The BFPI urged shoppers to exercise caution when shopping online.

“Over the last 12 months we have seen how criminals have very quickly tailored their scams taking advantage of this rise in online shopping, as well as remote working and people being more contactable via email,” Mr Hayes said.

“This has led to an increase in impersonation scams with fraudsters mimicking delivery companies for instance or trusted organisations such as utility companies or banks via text, email and online websites.”