How to Protect Yourself This Holiday Shopping Season


Explore this special holiday release of the Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report to learn how to protect yourself while holiday shopping.

The holidays are upon us once again. While shopping will be trickier than usual this season because of rapidly rising prices due to inflation, savvy shoppers should also be alert to security concerns as they pick out holiday gifts. 

We recently completed the 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Holiday, conducted online in August 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adults 18+ by The Harris Poll, which reveals that nearly 2 in 5 Americans (36%) have been victims of online shopping scams during the holiday season, losing $387 on average. Those high numbers are not surprising when you consider another of the study’s results: 34% of shoppers admit to taking more risks when online shopping during the holiday season compared to other times of the year, yet 43% of shoppers don’t know the best way to shop safely online.  

Here are some of the risks that you should look out for and what you need to know to protect yourself.  

Know that there are a lot of fake and fishy shops online

To find low prices, you might be likely to search online for your desired product and click on the search result with the lowest price. You’re not alone: Our study found that 77% of U.S. adults are likely to take actions to help cut costs this season due to inflation and the rising cost of living. However, if you take the lowest-price strategy when searching online, it’s possible you may end up at a fake store set up specifically to scam you.  

Some of the abundant fake online shops take your money and send you nothing. Others send you low-quality goods and hope that you won’t complain. Such sites may be ordering cheap goods in bulk from other retailers and then passing them on to you at a huge mark-up. Some fake online shops may simply steal your credit card information or other personal information. Our survey showed that 12% of online shoppers in the U.S. are willing to share their personal information (e.g., name, email, and birthdate) to get a high demand gift or toy over the holiday season.  

Don’t trust a site just because it’s slick and pay attention to the site’s reviews

Fake sites fool you with sophisticated design. Even if a site looks legit, you should still be wary: Scammers are really good at creating slick, sophisticated sites quickly. This way they can respond to trends in search behavior. Similarly, an ad on social media may look polished, but that doesn’t mean it leads to a legitimate site.  

E-shops may also trick you by stacking up positive reviews on their site. They might delete bad reviews left by customers or have a completely fake review system on their site. If you are purchasing from a new e-shop, it can be helpful to check third-party sites to check the site’s reputation, keeping in mind that scammers will sometimes flood these third-party review sites with fake positive reviews, so be sure to read take a close look at them and read some of the site’s less positive reviews. In general, find ways to be sure that the site has a high share of satisfied customers.  

Beware of accepting notifications from sites you don’t know

Fake shops might ask you to sign up for notifications, perhaps by incentivizing you with discounts or other benefits. Your permission allows them to put arbitrary popups on your screen, which can make you think your computer has a virus that you can fix by clicking on a link.  

Clicking this link can give hackers, identity thieves, and other bad actors access to your computer and personal information, especially if your antivirus software is out of date. Always be on your guard whenever a site asks you to enter information or click on a link to enable notifications. 

Take actions to protect yourself

Beyond knowing the dangers and understanding how scammers can trick you, there are a few practical things you can do to help protect yourself as you shop this holiday season.  

First, use Norton Safe Search when browsing for online shopping. It’s a search engine focused on security that blocks a lot of risky sites like those that are scams or engage in phishing schemes. Then install our Safe Web browser extension, which helps your browser identify malicious websites.  

Next, when you see a site that seems too good to be true or you see a popup on your computer, do a little research before clicking anything or providing any information. Search the domain name and the word “scam” to see if anything comes up. In many cases, you’ll find reports about scams related to the site if other people have encountered problems.  

The best approach is to be skeptical of all sites you aren’t familiar with, including those that look legitimate. Be an informed and defensive consumer and use the software that’s available to help you stay safe. With a little bit of knowledge and some practical action, you can get your holiday shopping done without a hitch. 

Norton logo
  • Norton
Norton empowers people and families around the world to feel safer in their digital lives

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


    Want more?

    Follow us for all the latest news, tips and updates.