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Shoppers urged to be cautious as Cyber Monday looms

As Cyber Monday looms, Irish information security company Espion is urging shoppers to be cautious when buying Christmas presents online.

The term Cyber Monday was originally coined by the online retail industry in the US, and refers to the Monday immediately after Thanksgiving, when online sales hit its highest levels. This year Cyber Monday falls on 30th November.

“While originally applied to America, Cyber Monday is a concept affecting Ireland and Europe as well. It marks the beginning of the busiest period of the year for online retailers. Recent surveys show we are number 10 in the world for online shopping. We are one of the most Internet savvy consumers in Europe and traffic to online retail websites multiply in the run up to Christmas,” explains Colm Murphy, technical director with Espion.  

According to Eurostat, Ireland has one of the fastest growth rates in online purchases in Europe. According to Murphy, Irish online shoppers should be aware of the risks.

“Cyber Monday will see a huge increase in online shopping. Taking this fact into account, online criminals may try their luck by attempting to exploit weaknesses in online retailers’ systems to gain access to information about shoppers. There is also the risk of encountering hoax retailers and other non-reputable sites,” he adds.

“There are no absolute guarantees of safety on the Internet. With a little common sense and some basic security awareness, you can avoid any problems with your online shopping experience.”

Some of the risks of buying items online include…

-Mis-use or interception of your credit card details

-Getting charged for goods or services that you did not purchase

-Not receiving goods you have purchased

-Unacceptable delays

-Receiving goods other than what you paid for

-Poor after sales service

Tips for Safe Online Shopping-

– Never hand over any sensitive personal and/or financial information to anyone over the phone or email.

– Use reputable retailers that you know OR look for sites with payment safety standards; or PayPal verified sites.

– If you are using your credit card, make sure the site is secure: a website with an address which starts with https://’ (rather than http://) is secure.

– Read shipping, refund and return policies.

– Check the site’s privacy policy.

– Always keep a record of your Internet transactions.

– Choose your credit card over your debit card, as credit cards offer security features that debit cards don’t have.

– Know that if you buy from traders in other European countries you have many of the rights that apply in Ireland. However, this might not be the case when buying from retailers outside Europe (USA, etc). Check that company has a physical EU address.

 – Beware of unrealistic bargains: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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