Fraudster worries hit shoppers
Over one-third of Ulster's internet shoppers are worried about becoming the target of online fraudsters.
New research shows that 37% are concerned that their details will be stolen online and used fraudulently.
In the run-up to Christmas when UK shoppers are expected to spend millions online, urgent calls have been made for tougher penalties for identified online hoaxers.
Almost half of those people surveyed believe that the Government should issue clearer guidelines for secure online shopping, while almost 40% of people in Northern Ireland think retail sites can help by reassuring the public that their payment card details will remain safe.
The research, carried out by secure payment provider 3V, also reveals that the UK's e-commerce industry could be missing out on a massive £23 billion each year, with consumers saying that they would make two additional online purchases a month if they had 100% confidence in internet security.
Despite nearly two-thirds (64%) of people in Northern Ireland now using more and varied websites for internet shopping than a year ago, they are still nervous about putting financial details onto such sites.
Established sites such as Amazon are considered much more trustworthy by almost seven in ten shoppers. Nearly three-fifths of online consumers are considering using alternative payment methods such as 3V Vouchers or other pre-paid tools, saying it would give them added security when purchasing online.
Kieron Guilfoyle, chief executive of 3V Transaction Services, said: " The British public has strong reservations about the safety of their credit and debit card details when shopping online.
"Internet shopping has become incredibly popular over the past few years, and it's up to the Government, retailers and the payments industry to ensure that we create a secure environment for consumers to enjoy all the perks of internet shopping without a fear of becoming a victim of fraud."
Fraud expert Professor Martin Gill, of the Perpetuity Consultancy, added: " Fraudsters, online or elsewhere, look for easy targets, so people need to make sure they are protected. Shoppers can also do their bit by taking simple precautions, such as not giving away personal details until they know the authenticity of those asking."