Consumers are being warned to be on the lookout for scams when they are shopping online in the run into Christmas.

According to FraudSMART - an initiative of the Banking & Payments Federation and supported by the Gardaí - three quarters of card fraud takes place online with the scams becoming ever more sophisticated.

It is no surprise that fraudsters step up their activity in the run into Christmas and the shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

According to BPFI figures, over €4 billion is expected to be spent online using payment cards throughout November and December. 

"Almost €12 billion was spent using cards between November and December last year, with well over €4 billion of that spend accounted for by e-commerce," Olivia Buckley, Head of Fraud Prevention with FraudSMART, said.

"Purchasing online is growing among Irish consumers. €41.3 billion of purchases were made with cards in the first nine months of this year alone with some €20.1 billion of that spending carried out online, almost double the amount for the same period in 2015."

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Ms Buckley pointed to a number of steps that people should be aware of when shopping online, including only shopping on websites that carry 'https' before the web address and a padlock symbol to signify that it is a secure site.

She also cautioned about the use of public wifi.

"People love free wifi, but the problem is free wifi and big public wifi areas are very vulnerable. You shouldn't be on those if you're banking online, putting in personal details, making purchases online. Use your 3 or 4G. It may cost you, but it's a lot cheaper than getting scammed," she advised.

Enhanced collaboration between the banks, the Gardaí and other agencies, as well as consumers, has seen greater awareness of scams and a great effort to clamp down on them.

"Where we've had alerts it's been really helpful and that's why that teamwork between the National Economic Crime Bureau, the Gardaí and the banks is so important. When we get alerts into the system, that's the point at which we're able to alert consumers and protect them," she explained.