Gardaí have warned consumers to be extra vigilent when making online purchases during the period of heavy discounting dubbed Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The expectation is that Irish consumers will make more than €4 billion in online purchases between November and December, with significant volumes of transactions occuring on these specified discount dates.
An Garda Síochána, alongside the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) have introduced a new fraud awareness initiative, dubbed FraudSMART, in an effort to prevent consumers falling victim to online fraud.
People are being warned to be cautious in their online activity, and to only make purchases on secure websites, which can be identified by the presence of “https” in the URL address bar, and a padlock symbol.
Detective Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said that 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".
Olivia Buckley, who is head of fraud prevention at FraudSMART, said that purchasing online is growing among Irish consumers, who spent about €20.1 billion online in the first nine months of the year, almost double the volume for the same period in 2015.
“In the region of 75 per cent of all card fraud occurs online, so serious caution is required when purchasing goods or services. The large volumes of online purchases expected to be made this week means fraudsters will be attempting to lure consumers into fraudulent websites, while posing as authentic suppliers,” she said.
Consumers are also being told not to make purchases using public Wi-Fi, and to independently type in the URL of an online vendor, rather than clicking social media or pop up adverts.