How to stay safe while shopping online

While shoppers are looking for the hottest deals from online retailers to kick off their holiday shopping, cybercriminals are also looking to “score big” – by stealing shoppers’ personal and financial information. This year, cyber thieves got off to an early start and Norton expects them to continue their nefarious holiday scams.

Norton has observed spam messages promoting replica watches, health products, free gift cards, and other fake product offers related to Christmas with the following email subject lines:

  • Subject: Grab em before Christmas
  • Subject: Just in time for Christmas – cheap watches
  • Subject: Hi xxxx, get 70% off Christmas.

Most of these spam messages encourage users to get these products early because of limited supply or to get the best deals. But by clicking the URL users were directed to fake websites selling replica watches, an online pharmacy, or other fake product offer sites.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, online threats masquerading as holiday-themed e-mails and fake product promotions tricking shoppers into giving up their credit card information are just some of the more common online scams that Norton expects this year.

According to the 2010 Norton Cybercrime Report, 73 percent of Americans have already been a victim of cybercrime. However, by taking simple precautions, consumers can ensure their holidays are free of spam, viruses and online scams.

Don’t give those naughty cybercriminals a gift this year – follow best practices (and check them twice!) to make sure your family is protected this holiday season.

Norton experts are on hand to share tips with users on how they can protect themselves while shopping online, including:

Make sure your holidays are filled with cheer, not fear – If you receive a suspicious email – whether it’s offering discounts that are too good to be true or is filled with grammatical errors – delete the message. It could be spam that’s trying to trick you into downloading a virus or giving away your personal information.

Use visual cues to identify safe websites – Scan the entire web page for a trust mark, such as the VeriSign Trusted Seal. These marks demonstrate that trusted authorities have taken comprehensive measures to certify such things as security, online business ethics or customer privacy standards.

Don’t let viruses turn your Black Friday into the “blues” – Use trusted online security software, like Norton Internet Security 2011, to make sure your system is protected against online threats. Norton Safe Web Lite, a free online tool, can also help identify risky websites as you shop.