Fraud Prevention Month #COVID19EMERGENCY

April 22, 2020

Every year the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network holds Fraud Prevention Month.  This year the theme centres on the impact of the Coronavirus. COVID-19 has had a significant effect on how we live, work and shop.  Now, more than ever, it is important to protect yourself online.

Online Shopping

When shopping online, make sure you research the website before buying anything.  It should list the name, physical address and contact details of the company.  If you research a site by reading reviews, don’t just rely on reviews from one website or forum, as they could be fake.  If many of the reviews use the same language or seem to repeat themselves, this could indicate that they are not to be trusted.

COVID-19 could also impact on the ability of businesses in affected areas to produce goods or meet delivery timescales. This means you might experience delays.  But you have strong rights when you buy from a website within the EU.  You do not have the same level of protection if you buy from a website based outside the EU and you will need to check the terms and conditions of the website to see what you are entitled to.

If you buy a product from an EU based website you have the right to return it for any reason. You have 14 days to change your mind from when you receive the item.  You must notify the business of your intention to cancel within these 14 days.  Once you have written to the business to let them know, you then have 14 days from that date to return it.

Find out more about your rights when buying online.

Scams

While the vast majority of businesses act in good faith, in these challenging times there is a risk that a small minority may try to take advantage by engaging in commercial practices which are damaging to consumer welfare, particularly vulnerable consumers.

If you think you may have been the victim of a scam you should contact your local Garda station.

Phishing

Phishing involves scammers trying to get people’s personal details – for example PIN numbers, passwords, or credit card numbers. Phishing can happen by email, through a website, or social media, such as Facebook or Twitter. For example, you may get an email or text that claims to be from your bank, asking you to update your information or telling you there has been some unusual activity on your account. You may be asked for personal information relating to your account. This is a scam, your bank will never ask you for your details in this way.

You should also be wary of unsolicited emails or messages claiming to come from your service providers asking you to update your payment information or to click a link to update your financial information.  Before giving any personal information stop and think. Check the official website or phone your service provider to check.  If in doubt, don’t reply.

The CCPC is actively monitoring company websites and where we identify issues, we will take appropriate action to protect consumers.

For more information on online shopping and deliveries, insurance, travel contracts, and financial support at this critical time, see our dedicated COVID-19 hub.

Take a look at the ICPEN’s website to find out more about avoiding scams and Fraud Prevention Month #COVID19EMERGENCY.

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