Bank warns online shoppers to be wary of scammers
Around a third of Northern Ireland customers have been scammed while doing their Christmas shopping online, according to a new survey.
According to Barclays, 31% of people in Northern Ireland have already been scammed in previous years while Christmas shopping on the web.
Across the UK, festive fraud victims are estimated to lose around £1.3bn in total, it said.
Joanna McArdle, relationship director at Barclays Northern Ireland, said: "While families in Northern Ireland are preparing to enjoy the festive season, criminals are ready to pounce on anyone who lets their guard down.
"Buying gifts online may be more convenient than heading to the shops, but with Christmas 2017 set to be the most fraudulent on record, online shoppers must be more vigilant than ever.
"Beat the fraudsters by looking out for the typical warning signs such as the padlock symbol on retailers' websites."
According to Barclays, "record levels of cyber-crime and growth of festive e-commerce are set to create unprecedented levels of fraud for Christmas 2017".
The survey also showed that almost half of online shoppers in Belfast "either don't know, or aren't sure, how to identify a secure website when shopping online".
"As a result, of those who had fallen victim to online fraud, only a fifth said they check for the padlock authentication symbol in the address bar on the payment page," the survey said.
Around 60% of those quizzed said they feel confident about their online security around the Christmas period.
"This is a noticeable overall drop in confidence compared to other times of the year, when 77% say they feel secure when shopping online," it said.
Barclays says customers should "look out for the padlock symbol and 'https' in the address bar" when buying online, and "watch out for deals that look too good to be true".
It also said customers should not use public wireless internet to buy Christmas shopping online, as well as never giving out a card pin or online banking password.
Last month, Northern Ireland's high streets and retail parks were dealt a "black trading cloud" after suffering a huge slump of 6.5% in shopper numbers last month.
Footfall fell a further 6.5% during October, compared to a 4.3% decline in September, the highest in the UK, according to the latest Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) with Springboard.