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Online Shopping - Fraud prevention advice

This month on Crimecall Detective Inspector Mel Smyth of The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau promoted the golden rules of online shopping.

In the lead up to Christmas and in particular the Black Friday sales promotion period, An Garda Síochána are supporting Europol’s online fraud prevention campaign which encourages safe online shopping by customers and provides fraud prevention advice to online retailers / eCommerce businesses. 


More and more businesses are using the internet as the primary channel to sell goods and services. Whilst convenient for both the consumer and retailer it also presents opportunities for fraudsters who can use the anonymous nature of the internet to rip off consumers or target retailers who do not have the necessary defences in place to protect themselves.

There was a total of €22 million in credit and debit cards fraud losses on Irish consumers in 2020, according to the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

As Christmas approaches Consumers and eCommerce merchants will be particularly active online over the next few weeks While the vast majority of transactions will be processed without issues, there is always the potential for fraud. Consumers will be making purchases from individuals advertising on trading websites, from local businesses and from well-known and un-known websites based in Ireland and abroad. Businesses will be engaging with individual consumers and other businesses who often are completely unknown to them. An Garda Síochána and Europol advise consumers and online retailers to adhere to the following online shopping fraud prevention advice: 

Consumer advice:

  • - One of the principal rules is to only engage with known and trusted businesses and websites and avoid doing business with people who are unknown and whose identity cannot be verified!
  • - Be wary when a product is being offered for sale at a price well below market value. Fraudsters will have a well-rehearsed story to explain the low price, don’t fall for it!
  • - Think twice before sending money for a product in advance to an unknown person or entity. Carry out checks first!
  • - Make the purchase using recognized payment systems or your credit card rather than direct transfers from your bank account or payment card!
  • - Don’t record your card or account details on a website if you are not going to buy anything!
  • - Never give away unnecessary personal data, such as your date of birth, social insurance number, password or pin numbers!
  • - Read the terms and conditions and save all messages and documentation related to the purchase.
  • - The higher the value of the product the more care you should take before making a purchase.   

 Business owner advice:

  • - Know your product: is it a high value product? Is it easy to re-sell? Is there any history of product being attractive to fraudsters? Can you identify risks associated with the product? Talk to the customer about the product to test their knowledge of it
  • - Know your customer: identify their name, address and eircode. If the customer is another business, research it. Is their address / email / phone number genuine? Is their account held in a different country? How do they wish to pay? What address are they using for delivery?
  • - Implement safe means of payment: talk to your acquirer about safe means of payment. Use 3d secure payment services. Keep a record of transactions for reference in the event of charge backs. Have an efficient resolution process to deal with charge back.
  • - Use a professional and reliable delivery system: check the delivery address. Only allow re-routing to known customers. Have signature to confirm delivery. If in doubt don’t deliver.
  • - Keep your data secure: have up to date IT systems including anti-virus software. Ensure all data is securely backed up very regularly and that it is readily accessible if necessary. Be GDPR compliant.  

Information provided by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau