Ahead of Black Friday and the expected Christmas sales rush, gardaí at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau are warning the public of the potential risk to their personal and payment data.
The warning has been issued this Saturday given the increase in online shopping and parcel deliveries due to the Covid-19 pandemic and with further increases expected in the coming weeks.
"An Garda Síochána are advising the public to never click on an unsolicited text or email, never give away personal data like your PIN, card numbers or passwords, and to not respond to such emails or texts. Instead, Gardaí would advise the public to take a screenshot of the text/email, delete it, and report it to your local garda station," said a garda spokesperson.
There have been a number of incidents in Limerick in recent weeks which have resulted in thousands of euro being fraudulently withdrawn from bank accounts and credit cards.
"Gardaí would also like to advise the public to never open attachments in unsolicited emails and to make sure your computer has the most up-to-date anti-virus software installed. Gardaí would also like to advise the public to be weary of unsolicited phone calls," added the spokesperson.
Gardai say there are some critical pieces of advice that consumers must follow to help protect their finances and their bank account.
- Only use secure sites and make sure you are on the real site. Check the URL and look for the trust seals (see below).
- Use trusted payment methods and never send cash
- Use sites where a padlock symbol is shown beside the website address
- Do not under any circumstances use public Wi-Fi when making payments - switch to 3G/4G on your phone if necessary
- Independently visit the website of the online sales company as opposed to clicking on social media or pop-up adverts
- Be cautious about claiming outrageous offers - if it sounds too good to be true it probably
- Stick to well-known websites or websites that you are familiar with or websites associated with high street retail outlets
An Garda Síochána are also advising any person who wishes to donate to charity over the Christmas period to be weary of unsolicited requests and only ever donate to legitimate, recognised charities.
If you encounter a person claiming to be from a charity, look to see their ID and collection permit. If in doubt, do not contribute and contact gardaí.