Irish shoppers have been warned to stay vigilant ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as online fraud soars.

According to Dell EMC and RSA in Q3 2016, ‘phishing’ scams rose by 54% globally on the same period last year. A total 201,082 phishing campaigns were recorded, a figure likely to rise as the festive season begins.

Phishing, a type of online fraud that dupes people and businesses into handing over their personal and financial details using malware and social engineering, costs global organisations over €8 billion each year.

For Irish consumers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are relatively recent online shopping phenomena, but that didn’t stop us spending more than €60 million over the two days in 2015.

“As we take advantage of the sales, cybercriminals will be waiting to take advantage of our desire to spend,” said Gerry Murray, Country Manager at Dell EMC Ireland.

“The vast majority of online shoppers won’t ever have any problem shopping online, but to stay safe, it’s important to keep your eyes open to signs of fraud.

“The majority of online fraud stems from malicious email attachments and links to scam websites. These emails are generally filtered through to your junk or spam folders, but if you’re suspicious of an email, particularly an unsolicited one, trust your gut and delete it.

“When you’re shopping online, shop with a renowned brand. If you’re not sure, do a bit of research on social media and discussion forums to see if other consumers share your concerns.

“When you buy online, look out for signs of untrustworthiness. A suspicious URL, particularly if you’ve opened it in an unsolicited email, is a good indicator of a malicious website. Look out for a lock or shield icon on a website’s payment screen—that indicates that your connection is secure and your personal details won’t be intercepted. Even a poorly designed website or pop-up ads can indicate a hastily put together scam.

“If you think you may have fallen victim to online fraud, you should change your passwords immediately, log out of all active sessions and notify your bank. Get into the habit of changing your password every six months and use a combination of random cases, numbers and symbols. It’s also essential that you update your apps and programs when prompted—these updates often fix holes in security that can be exploited by fraudsters.”

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